By George Kassianos
I don’t know much about golf but I believe there are similarities between enjoying the game and a bottle of our precious liquid. Like drinking wine, there are two kinds of golf. One is solitary and the other is group golf. Group golf is anything from a twosome to a tournament. The idea is competition, camaraderie and conversation in a pleasant atmosphere. You need to measure yourself against your equals. It’s a good time had by most and you want it forever. It is quite similar to judging wines in a competition or wining and dining with fellow connoisseurs.
Solitary golf is just you getting the ball into a very small hole that is very far away. Quite similar to the wine fan with the bottle opener, the glass and the bottle. Seasons are enjoyed by golfers and wine lovers; that feeling of putting a pure shot is the same as for a well kept wine in our small cellar opened after a few years of nursing it. It’s addictive, as with anything that gently touches somewhere inside our brain. You get a hole in one and quickly look around to see if anyone else saw it. No one else is there to taste the wine that you just opened and is beginning to reveal its secrets. And in both cases you think ‘Ah, so what’ and head for the green a little sad that you don’t get to chip or putt on this hole, you pour again and you appreciate further the wine as it breathes more and is evolving by the second. In both cases now you are a golfer, and a wine connoisseur.
Golf Club houses, like that at Elea in the Paphos region, are usually stunning. They are the hub around which everything takes place. They overlook the course, they are stylish with good architecture, a well stocked stylish bar, good food in their a la carte restaurant and a well designed cellar to accommodate wines.
When I get invitations to attend and present wines in a Golf Club House I make sure I am there. And at Elea, one thing is certain: chef John Koufou will do his part with the food, and any winemaker present has to match that… with my help and input.
It was the turn of Angelos Tsangarides of the well-known winery in Lemona in hot July. The 2013 Xynisteri, Pafos PGI, Abv 12.5% (€5.95) was the perfect aperitif. Clean and bright, pale yellow with green glints, intense, with lively aromas of greenery, yellow fruit and citrus fruits in the Sauvignon vein, accompanied by softer melon and petal touches as well as some anisettes and herbs. It is crisp and refreshing on the palate, with a lemony zing; there is a good balance between acidity and other sensations, good structure and freshness.
There is some elegant bitterness, accentuating its length with an intense finish.
The starter was Salmon pave with Scotch quail egg, avocado and green apple. This calls immediately for the 2013 Chardonnay, Pafos PGI, Abv 14% (€8). A Chardonnay from organically grown vines, straw yellow in colour. This wine has a nose full of fruit. There was definitely some ripe pineapple along with some cantaloupe, green apple and citrus was there too along with some herb notes. It is sort of a richer fruit nose. The taste featured that pineapple again, along with a bit of mango and the melon. It felt very full and round in the mouth, but definitely not big and oaky or big and buttery. It was a more straightforward taste and it was a bit softer than you’d feel with an oaked Chardonnay.
You can see why Angelos would skip the oak and go with just the grapes. Guests at Elea were very pleasantly surprised too. And the acidity cut through the salmon oiliness and Scotch egg fat – dryness and weight of the wine were perfect and that avocado buttery texture helped the wine.
If you ask me my favourite grape for pork belly then it is Mourvèdre. Served with celeriac, carrot and artichoke it was a tasty dish that inspired this dry red of 2011 Mataro, Pafos PGI, Abv 13.5% (€11). Again the source of this wine comes from organically grown vines. Hiding under the Mourvèdre alias, Mataro has too often been relegated to the rank of a ‘blends only’ varietal. The time for a resurrection is now with this red from Tsangarides Lemona’s own vineyards. Medium depth crimson with purple hues, rich, perfumed blackberry fruit; mulberry and blueberry aromas come out of the glass with a touch of liquorice, a result of some barrel fermentation. Yummy sweet fruit is the first impression, but this quickly changes to what Mataro is known for, pepper and spice. It is medium bodied but very complex with very fine yet firm tannins, savoury notes and a little mineral streak which flows through the long and spicy finish.
And finally a medium dry rosé from organic farmed vines was chosen to match a chocolate fondant with hot fudge sundae and spiced mango syrup. The 2013 Shiraz-Maratheftiko, Pafos PGI, Abv 14% (€8). I love this wine as it straddles two styles of rosé – the nose is all fruity with its macerated strawberries, but in the mouth the fruit gives way to savoury nuance. Serious enough to sip throughout a meal. It has a pomegranate and strawberry colour, aromas of strawberry and candy floss along with raspberry raciness, cream flavours and generally summer fruit notes and Yeroskipos delight complete the nose. Light and slightly sweet, crispy and zesty, light to medium body, some maraschino cherry, strawberry and a bit of a creamy and clean. Fine subtle tannins provide structure and backbone.
I love golf, because like wine you are intrinsically connected to the creation. The moment you hit a shot that comes off perfectly you feel a oneness with the Creator. And He knows how many times I have felt it with food and wine.