Greek Travel Report

Just returned from a fantastic two week trip to Greece, primarily for wine, and had to share a couple of observations. (And make sure to read the last bit about who to fly with if you are carrying wine.)

  • First, Greece remains one of the great under-visited wine regions of the world in terms of history, culture, and quality. It really is a unicorn for my wine travel in rarity as well: there are so many producers there that don’t export to the US, it is particularly rewarding to bring bottles back.

  • Santorini is amazing as a wine lover, at least in March before the tourist season and cruises arrive. Santorini Assyrtiko is one of the greatest white wines in the world, which we already appreciated going in, but my goodness what stellar bottles. We were also really impressed by every example we tried of the rare Aidani grape: it is the ‘aromatic’ white of Santorini (and often blended up to 15% with Assyrtikos) and is a delight.

  • The real eye-opener to us? Naoussa (of the eponymous region in the north). Yes, because of the wines: Xinomavro is such a fascinating and ageworthy red, Malagousia is a joyously delicious aromatic white that caught us off guard at every winery we went to. But also just as a beautiful place to visit. A quaint hilltown, surrounded by verdant rolling hills of peach and almond trees, with massive snow capped mountains looming no more than a mile or two behind you? Unreal! It was like the Swiss Alps crossed with Tuscany, and I can’t fathom it staying secret for too much longer. For a hotel (and restaurant), a shout out to Palea Polli, a remodeled silk factory with 7 great rooms and a huge roaring fire in their restaurant on the ground floor with high-end takes on local cuisine + every bottle of Naoussa wine in existence. We finished a lot of evenings in front of that fire with a bottle of wine from a producer we wouldn’t be able to make it to otherwise. And we bumped into a lot of local winemakers doing the same.

  • A very important note about flying with wine: we are used to checking shipper-cases of wine to travel with, and have never had any issue returning to the US with them. We did run into a weird quirk in Greece, however: Aegean Air. Don’t fly with them. They have an internal regulation that they won’t allow anyone to fly with more than 5L of liquid… and suspiciously have linked up with a company that sells ‘approved’ wooden crates with sawdust for those 5L. We had to fight with them to accept an international shipper case, it wasn’t pretty. Fortunately, we discovered this on the way into Greece (we brought a case of our own wines to hand out as we go and replace with what we purchased): we landed in Athens via Delta and had to check back in with Aegean and they forced us to get rid of 6 of our bottles unless we bought one of their boxes. There is a very happy cleaning lady in the Athens airport, as a result. Fly Sky Express, they gladly took our cases of wine fully knowing what they were.

So that is that for my general takes. We returned home with 36 bottles and one magnum, so I’d say it was a fantastic success. (Although I would have preferred we returned home without the food poisoning, that made for a pretty brutal set of flights and a week of recovery.)



Nice report. Thank you.

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Assyrtiko tastes so much better on Santorini that anywhere else in the world

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Love Greece, Love Greeks, Love Greek Food, Love Greek Wine. Now I want to go back.


Thanks for pointing this out. I’m about to do the same with Lufthansa on the way to Europe, and was concerned that security would open them haphazardly. Are you talking about cardboard shippers sealed with tape? Did anyone ever open yours along the way?

I’ve flown with cardboard shippers (styrofoam inserts) and have had a few of them opened. Fortunately, all were resealed and in good shape at the destination

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Kelby - Can you share some of the Naoussa wineries that you enjoyed? We have been exploring a number the xinomavro that are imported into the US and digging the many interpretations. Thymiopoulous, Dalamara, are Foundi are a few makers with versions we have found compelling but we have not been to the mountain and still have much to learn. Teach! Cheers - Joe

Hello, Joe. Here is the region’s website - starting primer. I am going to try to PM you some more info. I have been there a couple of times on behalf of a US importer. There is a very high concentration of great wineries in northern Greece, including Thymiopoulos, Foundi, Kelesidi, Argataia, and Kir Yianni. Also worthy of mention and high praise - Gerovassiliou just outside Thessaloniki.

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