Mantineia in February....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The clouds were low and there was still snow on the mountain tops. hibernating.  The trees, the fields, the vineyards are sleeping, feeling and accepting the rain that falls abundantly.

At 600m above sea level, the Mantineia Plateau is surrounded by mountains. Mainalo on the west, Lirkeon on the northeast and Artemisio on the east.

It was a day-trip organised by my friend and teacher in my Sommelier training course, that brought me and a few others to this fertile plateau in central eastern Peloponnese. 

We were looking for wine. We found plenty and a few more "treats" along the way...

The church of Agia Foteini, Greece's most "unorthodox" Orthodox church.

Agia Foteini was built between 1970 and 1973 by the visionary architect Kostas Papatheodorou. Its architecture is an imposing melange of styles. Ancient Greek stone pillars and pediments resting on Byzantine arches made from marble, stone and tiles. 

Every material used to built Agia Foteini was procured locally. There is not even an ounce of concrete in the whole structure.

Ancient Greek fables and Greek Orthodox icons live together inside the church.

Moschofilero, one of Greece's most famous, indigenous varieties reigns supreme in Mantineia. The whole area has a PDO classification. Lemony yellow, fresh with crisp acidity and laced with intense lemon, lychee and even rose petal aromas it quickly became one of my favourite wines.

High altitude is unforgiving to the vines. Late October harvests give the grapes enough time to mature while keeping their crisp acidity and their characteristic rose petal and citrus aroma.

On this rainy February day we visited the vineyards and winery of Domaine Spiropoulos and were treated to a tour and a generous wine tasting by Mr Ioannis Spiropoulos.
Moschofilero is also vinified in the traditional Champenoise method, yielding delicate sparkling whites and roses with titillating acidity and an exotic, fresh nose.