In my series of Young Winemakers and Wine Professionals of Greece, I introduce this interesting and inspiring group of people, who are moving Greek wine forward and spread their passion around the world.
Today, I am very happy to have Evangelia Palivou of Palivos Estate on the blog; enjoy!
How much impact did it have on deciding to study winemaking, while growing up next to one of Greece’s most successful winemakers? How old were you when you decided to follow this path?
When you grow up in a family business, it’s not necessary to be pressed to follow this job. I was only 3 years old when my parents decided to make wine for a living and 5 years old when the winery was founded. I love this job and I feel it as a part of myself! My parents did their best to transfer and nourish me the passion for wine! I don’t really remember if I ever wanted to do something else in my life!
Take me through your wine studies and your experience in the European vineyards.
Firstly, when me and my family decided to leave for studies abroad, our first choice was Australia. My mother feared though that due to the distance, we would not see each other for a long time, so this still remains a life dream and we chose France. In the beginning it was so difficult for me; my French was only entry level, I had to adapt to a totally unknown country and at the time Greece was entering the crisis. What came next was a series of unprecedented new experiences, new knowledge and winemaking methods and of course new people! I tried to act like a sponge and absorb everything new that I watched or listened to.
Which are the main similarities and differences between the Greek & the French nations in regards to wine culture?
The most definite similarity is the passion for the vineyards and the wine. In the viticulture front, the big difference is that French viticulturists consider the vine to be the winemaker itself! They have a completely different way to treat and manage it; they pay a lot of attention to it! I do value and embrace their attitude considering how the ‘’big wines’’ are being made. The first step is to think what kind of wine we would like to make, then (using our imagination) we smell and taste it. The next step is to make it in our vineyard and the last but not least is to make it in our winery. Another great difference is the collaborative nature of the French viticulturists relationship with the winemakers. The result of this collaboration could give very well made wines. Both of them and especially viticulturists help each other. In Greece, this relationship is still in progress but I hope it will become stronger as these two main forces are correlative. In regards to the consumer, we are really in an enfant stage. France is one of the first countries in wine consumption – wine is their national product and almost everyone understands and appreciates it. In Greece, consumers have entered the wine world in a dynamic and proper way only in the last 20 years.
On the first day of my Masters’, Alain Carbonneau, our Viticulture professor, told me that Aghiorghitiko can be the new Merlot, referring to Merlot’s popularity. Which are Aghiorghitiko’s advantages and disadvantages in its development in the international market?
Aghiorghitiko is an enchanting grape that awakens the senses with its elegance and freshness, its aromatic intensity on the nose and palate. This red variety is often characterized as multidynamic because of the wide range of wine styles it can produce; from fresh rosé to rich sweet wines. However, the most well known wine styles are fresh red, dry red (tank fermentation) and aged red (at least one year of barrel aging). It is not so famous and well-branded as Merlot yet. I am optimistic that through the collective attempts of ‘’serious’’ winemakers of Nemea combined with the collective work of Cooperative of Nemea winemakers (ΣΟΝ), the Union of Winemakers and Viticulturists of Peloponnese and of other unions, we will achieve our ultimate goal: to establish Aghiorghitiko as an international variety. The problem is that we were late to promote it and make attempts for it.
There is a strong trend in the wine world for more consumer friendly labels that you seem to have spotted and implemented. What are your personality characteristics that you want to introduce to them and make them stand out?
We design the labels according to the character and the personality of our wines. But I am really glad that we approach the new consumers. I would like to try and experiment – fortunately my parents are young and open minded enough – so we move on together based on their knowledge and their experience. The wines that I love are the red ones. I adore their body with tannins, their color, their aromas. I would like the wines that I will produce to be modern and express the microclimate of the region of origin. But I strongly believe that if someone captures their own soul into the wine, then it will automatically bcomee distinguished and differentiated from the rest. A grand red wine needs its special terroir, soul, fantasy and passion!
Social media have started changing and re-shaping the producer-consumer relationship but there are still many Greek estates that haven’t dared to be present on social media platforms. We have already seen you active on Facebook – are you going to be on Instagram or Twitter any time soon? To what extend do you think that an estate’s social media presence can assist to their success?
We live in a digital era. Most wine drinkers are aware of the use of internet. The generation gap starts from 5 to approximately 75 years old and maybe more (hahaha). Therefore, sometimes being constantly online is also difficult for me (when I was young, we used to play games in the streets and cycle for many hours). Social media have replaced the media in a more evolving way and if you manage to use them properly, they will help you. They are tools of our work; a post can reach hundreds of people in some seconds in all over the world. I believe that they help our work to be more easily recognized. I already have two accounts on Instagram and Twitter but honestly I prefer Facebook because it’s more widely known if you consider the amount of its users compared to the other two social media.
You are part of the new Greek Wine wave – how do you think that communication and marketing need to be developed on a national and international level? Is there something that you’d wish to see changing?
I constantly watch new people entering dynamically the wine world, which makes me really happy because the Greek wine culture will change as well. Nowadays, the younger generation has the opportunity to travel all around the world, meet new people, exchange ideas and opinions and get introduced to new things. This will lead to open-minded people who will transform the competition among older generations to a healthy contest for younger winemakers and professionals, so that we will achieve the best for Greek wine on a national level and not only separately for each PDO zone. However, the voice of one person will probably not be heard but the sound of many will be loud!
Your desert island wine:
If you consider Peloponnese as an island, I would say that that my desert island wine would be an Aghiorghitiko from dried grapes. It can get unbelievably evolved in the barrels and it only becomes better with time. When you hopefully come to Greece, I will wait for you at our winery to taste ‘’Ηλίον Τέχνη’’ (the art of the sun) which is a luscious straw wine, made by 100% Agiorgitiko grapes, aged in barrels since 1997. Otherwise I would choose a Vinsanto of our Santorini island!
Check out Palivou wines on the web: http://www.palivos.gr/
Like them on Facebook: https://el-gr.facebook.com/PalivouEstate