Lirarakis, wine and Crete

“The sun drinks grapes, and we drink wine from grapes: we drink the sun!” I don’t remember who said this, but was absolutely right… It penetrated all capillaries, warming and delighting: “Vidiano”, “Muscat of Spina”, “ZaZaZu”. What other names were there? Not to remember. The main thing—on all bottles was listed “Lirarakis”. This is the name of the winery, where they gave us wines of their production, and sunny Anna filled high glasses with blessed moisture…

But it was later; first we sat down with Georgios Lirarakis at the edge of his vineyard, where the ancient vine clung to the ground, barely breathing. “Vine is like a person which get tired and fall asleep for the winter,” said Georgios, carefully touching powerful stems. “But, look, it is about to wake up…”

Then it will be poured with juice and sunshine; then grapes will be collected and sent to the press; then it will ferment awaiting its time in barrels and maturing. Georgios told about all these intricacies, and Anna filled our glasses again. The Lirarakis family started to engage in winery in 1966 and since then has earned a reputation in 26 countries, where they export their products. Three revived original Cretan grape varieties, dozens of wine names, international recognition at world competitions. We do not know what think European sommeliers, but we would give all imaginable awards to the Lirarakis’.

“Vidiano” is a grape variety, “Muscat of Spina” is another one, says Anna. – This variety used to be grown in Asia Minor, and from 1924, immigrants from there began to grow such grapes in Crete, in the settlement of Spina in the administrative region of Chania and hence the name. The combination of these two varieties gives the most fragrant white dry wine. As chemists have established, there is the highest concentration of natural aromatic substances in these two varieties.

Yes, Anna, we believe you! We drink breathing in the smells of Cretan herbs, air and sun! White dry, red, pink, there are much more of them: tart-sweet, like the last love.

– “What do you like best?”—slyly smiles Georgios.

– “I prefer this one, the white dry!”

– “Oh, so you are like an ancient Greek!—laughs winemaker.—This is a wine from ancient varieties. It’s your choice, but the quality of wine depends not only on climate, grapes and weather”.

If Georgios, the heir of Dionysus, and beaming Anna were not at the table, it seems me that the taste of the drink would not be so bright; and when the owner went with us to a reserved place so that we could understand what else the taste of wine is made of… It was the top of a hill where only the wind was walking. Below—vineyards, above is the sky and in the middle—the ancient stone press. Why brought ancestors here to the top their grapes? Why did they press them right here—at the windy height? God knows, but judging by how important this ritual place is for Georgios Lirarakis, he knows, too.

– “Do you use old technologies in production?” we ask the winemaker.

– “We use old philosophy.” Our interlocutor smiles again: “Didn’t you feel it?”.

If you want to share your love for Crete with friends or your loved one, just open a bottle with a golden neck—Liastos, stored up from a trip to the Lirarakis winery. This is the “concentrated sun”, according to Georgios. That’s all!

Svetlana Zaitseva

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