"I was 21 years old. I was walking in the central square in Piraeus, the city where I was born and still live. A new retail wine shop had opened and I started gazing in the window. And it’s there: a wine called Megas Oenos, from Skouras Winery. The vintage is 1987 and the cost is 3,200 drachmas. I am amazed. I cannot believe that a wine could cost that much. I was studying mechanical engineering at the time, so going to a restaurant and spending even 600 on a bottle of wine was well beyond me. I just couldn’t imagine many people being able to afford 3,200.
So I walk into the shop and I say, 'OK, you made a mistake, I think you put an extra zero on that price tag.' The owner says, 'Oh, bloody hell, I’m sorry about that.' He opens the invoices and says, 'No, sorry, that’s the correct price.' And I’m going, 'Why the hell should a bottle of wine cost more than 3000 drachmas?' And he goes, 'Well I don’t know, but I’ll have the winemaker here at my opening party next Wednesday, so come and ask.'
So I go there and George Skouras is opening a bottle of Megas Oenos and saying, 'OK, I will explain why the price, but hopefully you’ll taste it [the reason], drinking a glass with me.' That was probably the glass of wine that put me into the wine business. From that evening and from that glass of wine, there was no turning back. I was captivated, I was amazed, I was charmed by the whole approach of smelling a wine and tasting.
So I walked away with my girlfriend – now she is my wife and the mother of my son – and I said, 'Antonia, bloody hell, this is something that I need to learn more things about.' So that was the starting point for me in the wine industry.
It was the layers in this wine that were unbelievable. It was a lot more extracted, a lot more complex than anything I’d had before. The wine was giving reasons to just keep it in your mouth a bit longer, rather than gulp it away. Now that I think about it, it was not a great wine. I mean, that was Skouras starting his business; he was not making the wine he does now. If you have the opportunity, please taste Megas Oenos from the 2008 vintage; that’s a great wine."
As told to Nick Vaughan
Fast Facts from Wine-Searcher's search engine:
- Indicative blend: 80% agiorgitiko, 20% cabernet sauvignon
- Average price: $26
- Vintages available: Six, from 2000 to 2008
- Country of origin: Greece
- Region of origin: Peloponnese.