It’s one o’clock on a Friday afternoon and I’m very happy to be at Warehouse CO2 for the second time since I discovered it. This new all day bar in central Athens showcases sparkling wines from Greece and around the world, with a carefully curated and accessible list of bubblies. I’m certain there will be a string of “me too’s” that follow but I think that will be good thing for Athens and in fact, all of us.
We’re at the beginning of the sparkling wine movement in Athens and as it currently stands, Warehouse CO2 are the pioneers. Located in a hub of other newly established eateries and bars, the area is in close proximity to Syntagma Square which in addition to Hellenic Parliament, has a myriad of thriving back streets thanks to several new hotel openings, hip boutiques and a cluster of Airbnb apartments that are pre-booked for almost six months of the year. Warehouse CO2 is the satellite to an older more established wine bar, located in grungy Exarchia, that houses a cellar of more than 500 local and international varieties of wine.
If you’re a lover of bubbles, the idea of exploring an array of sparkling wines will surely appeal. I was overjoyed that sparkling wines were finally not treated as an afterthought in this city and I now have a choice beyond one overpriced glass of Moet. The other part of course is that you can get acquainted with Greek sparkling wine which I have to be honest, I knew nothing about and was a tad sceptical of. But I do now, and in short, they’re very good and deserve to be tasted.
On my first (unannounced) visit here, I went straight for the good stuff. I couldn’t talk Malagousia until I had been reacquainted with a French Blanc de Blanc, and no one comes close to seducing your palette like the French do. They’ve had hundreds of years to master it and simply put, they own the word champagne in every sense.
The Spanish do a fantastic job with their cava and the Italians of course have some exceptional Prosecco. Greece has some catching up to do. The Greek wine industry has been in marketing overdrive the last few years, introducing interesting varieties on the international stage, finally moving past Retsina which was dominating Greek output for so many decades.
I thought the prospect of a Greek sparkling was going to be a hard sell but I was pleasantly surprised. George Kanopoulos is one of the co-owners of Warehouse Co2 and the visionary who has put the world of effervescence by the glass, on one list. He offers more than 29 sparkling varieties by the glass between 5 – 17 euros and more than 55 varieties by the bottle, starting from 13 euros. His still wines are poured from old vintages, magnum bottles or special Cuvees and like all good Athenian bars, there is a carefully thought out food menu that compliments their drinks list.
As George sips on a glass of Vouvray, he speaks optimistically about the flavours and characteristics of Greek sparkling wines, so far achieved.
“You get very nice varieties from all over Greece, in the north, south, the island of Crete for example. There’s still a way to go, but Greek producers are becoming better acquainted with producing champagne style wines, prosecco style wines. There are some very good and easy drinking options that you can drink on their own or with a meal.”
According to George, the three Greek indigenous grapes that are commonly used in Greek sparkling wines using the champagne method include, Malagousia (red grape, aromatic and fruity) Assyrtiko, a striking white grape famous from Santorini (but is also good from the north of Greece) and Limnio (another fine white grape from northern Greece).
There’s a good argument to suggest that Greek sparkling wines will quickly make a name for themselves both locally and overseas because they rely less on the vineyard and more on production methods. It’s something many wine experts believe is the reason Greek whites are more popular than reds. So with my French champagne reunion out of my system, I moved on to the Greek producers, which I’m very happy to report, are creating sophisticated sparkling wines that truly exceeded my expectations. Well balanced, refreshing flavours with a perfect stream of bubbles.
The second instalment of Warehouse is a place you can easily get acquainted with and a welcome addition to the bar scene in Athens. It offers a solid introduction to Greek sparkling wines or to reacquaint you with your sparkly favourites.
WAREHOUSE CO2 MENU HIGHLIGHTS
Sparkling: Pier Gimonet & Fills Blanc de Blanc (France), Braquetto d’Aqui Tenuta (Italy), Cava Freixenet Gordon Negro (Spain), Paraga (Greece), Amalia Vintage Brut (Greece).
Wine accompaniments: Greek cheese plate. Salmon, creme cheese and lime on rustic artisanal bread. Beef fillet carpaccio, truffle oil, Graviera cheese, lime.
Why Athens Tip: Serves breakfast and lunch. Artisanal coffee from its own brand of specialty roasts.
See the video of George explaining how to open a bottle of champagne. Not to be missed!
GEORGE’S GREEK SPARKLING PICKS
YLIANA, from Porto Carras in Northern Greece, one of the oldest estates in Greece. Clean citrus aromas accompanied by hints of yeast. Delicate in the mouth with crispy acidity with a pleasant finish. A white extra dry sparkling wine made using a champagne method. Combining three Greek grapes; Malagousia, Assyrtiko and Limnio. Perfect with seafood or a cheese board.
AMALIA rosé by Tselepos. An elegant soft pink sparkling made entirely from Agiorgitiko from selected vineyards in the Asprokampos region of Nemea. Distinguished notes of cherry, while the discreet presence of yeast completes the set.
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This post was not sponsored in any way and as always, all opinions are our own