Wine of the Month
Featured Wine: Skouras Saint George Agiorgitiko
Grape Variety: 100% Agiorgitiko
Produced by Designation of Origin Nemea
Vinification: Alcohol fermentation and extraction in stainless steel vats at 23 degrees Celsius. Total extraction time is 12 days.
Aging: Full malolactic fermentation in neutral French barriques for 12 months and then aged in the bottle for 2-6 months in their cellar
Color: Dark Cranberry/Deep Garnet
Price: Under $20
As a kid, I always wanted a big brother. Obviously it was a wish that couldn’t be fulfilled. But then in my 20’s, while in school, I met this guy, Oscar ‘AKA’ Onkar Singh Sohi, known to his wife and friends in Canada as Donny. And no, I still don’t know why he had so many names. Maybe it was because he was a Gemini and really lived up to that title. After we graduated, he moved back to Canada, but we stayed in touch; we’d drink wine together over the phone. The last time we spoke, I poured myself a glass of Skouras Saint George Agiorgitiko; a fine Greek red.
Funnily, me drinking Saint George, a gorgeous representation of Greek wine, did not bode well with Oscar as he remembered a certain Greek guy, Mike, who I dated and fell in love with while we were in school. Truth be told, Mike broke my heart, so Oscar’s ire was fair. Me plus Greek guys never really boded well, although, me plus Greek wine and food – well we go just great together. I tried to distract Oscar, by describing the beautiful aspects of Saint George. I should mention that Oscar usually called me after he had plenty of wine, so our conversations were all over the place. Mostly we spent our time cracking up, gossiping and reminiscing; he could get quite sentimental. Oscar and I cracked up from the moment we met, all through school and up until the last time we spoke. We fought like siblings and forgot about our arguments quickly. Oscar called me ‘Little Sis’ even though he was younger than me; I finally had my big brother.
When Oscar called, I had already finished my pairing and had switched to a cup of tea. Almost immediately after I answered the phone, I poured another glass of Saint George; it is much better with food, but I thought, why not?
The nose of Saint George is full of earth, spice, red fruit, tart cherry and raisin, (emphasis on the tart cherry). Each sip is full of ripe plum, a bit of raisin, tart cherry, red fruits and a touch of pepper. The finish of this medium bodied wine is long, slightly tart, with medium tannins. The entire sip is well rounded. I found it surprising that the nose was quite tart but said tartness did not overtake the palate. Like many Old-World wines, let Saint George breathe for thirty minutes or so and give it a slight chill. Placing the bottom of the bottle in a little ice will do the trick, or, prior to decanting, put it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes (ish).
Coincidentally, I had paired this wine with Greek Pasticcio, which I learned how to make way back when, from Mike’s lovely mother. Saint George went so well with the Pasticcio; it really enhanced the bechamel, picking up the notes of the subtle Nutmeg; the acidity of the wine cut into the creaminess like a pro. It even seemed to tame the prominent flavors of the lamb meat and enrich the tomato sauce immaculately. My second pairing was with Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes, I got this recipe from the LA Times, (you can find it online and I recommend you do). This was another great pairing; the flavors of ripe plum, red fruits and raisin were excellent with the buttery lemon sauce. The acidity of the lemon went so well with the tame well-rounded flavors of Saint George. I don’t always pair with traditional food from the same region as the wine, but it seemed fitting and I was right to do so.
There is a beautiful simplicity to this wine which can only occur via skilled wine makers. George Skouras started his wine studies in the 1980s, in France. After receiving his degree in Oenology from the University of Dijon, he continued studying via visiting many classic wine making regions in France, Italy and Greece. In 1986, Skouras returned home to Nemea where he now runs his boutique winery.
As of late, I have been listening to lots of 1990’s hip hop, and coincidentally again, while Oscar and I were in school, we went dancing almost every Thursday at a nightclub in Hollywood that played Reggae and 90’s hip hop. I am pretty sure they played the same set of songs every week; at midnight they always played Frankie Cutlass’ ‘Puerto Rico’ and we would go crazy. By the way, Oscar could really dance, I think, based on some of the parties he took me to, Sikhs in general can throw down!
Plan an evening with an old friend, one you can dance with, whom you have that special freedom you only have with a few people in your life. Play the music that makes you want to dance. Make Pasticcio or Lemon Chicken. Either works well if you prepare it in advance, that way, you will be free to dance. For your centerpiece, since it is summertime, fill your house with lots of one of my favorite flowers, daisies.
My last glass of wine with Oscar, my friend of over 25 years, my favorite dance partner, my moodiest friend, the one with whom I felt that comfort you have with family, the one I laughed with the most in school, the one who checked in on me the most, was a glass of Skouras Saint George. Even though I highly recommend it with food, it was a wonderful glass of wine, that I sipped while laughing with my friend, listening to stories about his family and reminiscing.
I can’t even believe I will never speak with Oscar again. His last text to me said, ‘I really don’t think you love me anymore, LOL, I call and you don’t answer.’ My last text to him was, ‘Hah, my ringer was off, of course I still love you.’
I wish I could send him this review, but he wouldn’t read it anyway, he’d say it was too long.
Rest in Peace Oscar Singh Sohi; Father, Husband, Big Brother, Friend.