Tassos Triantafyllou – Oenologist

No other “artwork” is appreciated with so many senses

Tassos Triantafyllou works as an oenologist since 1975 and has been engaged in the design and installation οf (ISO) and (HACCT) systems. At the same time from 1984 to 1995 he worked as a technical consultant for the «Association of Hellenic Industries of Wines and Spirits». He has been a member of many committees and working groups for organizations within and outside Greece.

In short, he is a man who knows a lot about wine. And especially the Parian wine, since he is the oenologist in one of the three wineries of Paros. For his knowledge and experience, we turned to him and asked him some questions. Between Verona, Paros and Canada he found the time to answer them.

Is wine an art or a technique?
It is both art and technique.
Art, because it integrates the local viticultural tradition, varieties, grape growing, traditional wines, traditional wines for religious use known as «nama», the «craft» of the wine-grower and of course it appeals to all our senses-sight, smell, taste, touch to mouth-even hearing, with the fizz in sparkling wines. No other «artwork» is appreciated with so many senses. So the oenologist and the wine-grower are true craftsmen and often artists. Technique & technology nowadays, because the technological equipment of the wineries and the good scientific training of the oenologist improve all the above.

What are the characteristics of the Parian vineyard?
The vineyard of Paros is a traditional Aegean vineyard. However, a large residential development and changes in the occupations and habits of the residents since Paros became a popular tourist destination have significantly reduced the extension of vineyards from 2700 acres to 1700 acres, now scattered in small areas throughout the island. Most of the vineyards are old and self-rooted, as the phylloxera has not spread out, and are located on the low slopes around Mount Prophitis Ilias [Prophet Elias] (726m.), which dominates the center of Paros. The law defines the whole island as a PDO area (‘Paros’, introduced in 1981), both for white and red wine. Main varieties of red are Mandilaria and small quantities of Vaftra (Antiparos) and Black Aidani. Of the white varieties Monemvasia, a little White Aidani and some acres of Assyrtiko planted recently.

What has been the evolution of Parian wine in the last 30 years?
The evolution has been huge. From the ‘dyeing’ bulk wine for mixing of those days we have passed now to around 25 labels with decent wines. There are three wineries: the one belonging to the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Parikia, the big, modern one of M. Moraitis in the Agioi Anargiri area, and the small, graceful winery of G. Moraitis in Naoussa within its own organic vineyard.

It is true that Greek wine does not lack quality but mainly promotion?
It is true, but not the whole truth. In the market there are still wines with quality problems. But most importantly there is nearly always no accurate value for money. You know, it is not possible that all wines are of a very high quality. This mainly depends on the grape variety, on the ecosystem and of course on the equipment of the winery as well as the art and knowledge of the oenologist. These factors lead to wines of different qualities. What is needed though is that they be free of defects. Thus it’s logical e.g. that a wine has a much better aroma, due to the above factors, but it is unacceptable that is smells bad; that’s a quality problem. Let me stress again that in our market there are expensive wines of a much lower quality than others, much cheaper ones.

Bottled wine, bulk?
I think it’s completely wrong and potentially dangerous to think that those who put their wine in bottles will solve their problems if they convince consumers that quality-wise bottled wine is good and wine in casks is bad.
Equally wrong is the view of the other camp, who think that wine in casks is pure whereas bottled wine is industrial.
Wine in Greece is still part of the everyday diet, and I hope it remains such. Only thus can we keep on being a country where viticulture is a major sector of agricultural production.

Is there wine that is cheap and good?
Yes, there is. Unfortunately though, consumers cannot make the right choices, mainly due to wrong and deficient information.

Summer 2011