Parparoussis Winery, based in Patras in Western Achaia, was founded back in 1974 by Athanasios (Thanassis) Parparoussis, when Greek wine was very different to how it is today. I met with him and his family for dinner, to hear their story and taste through their wines. Arriving at the estate we were greeted by the sound of roosting peacocks, who live here: they are an effective early warning system for visitors, and one of the wines made here is named after them,
In the 1970s only a few wineries were producing bottled wine in Greece, as most was made for local consumption. So in 1974, it was really innovative that Parparoussis were making bottled, fresh, fruity wines. They now have 10 hectares of vineyards in the region, many of which came from his mother’s side of the family, and were mostly planted to Roditis and Sideritis.
Thanassis was led to study enology and travel to France because his father owned distilleries, making brandy and ouzo. He got some experience abroad at Moët et Chandon. He did 27 months of military service, and then worked in a winery in Greece. This winery was making wine for export, which wasn’t normal at the time, in a 20 million litre capacity winery. Then he opened the winery here with his wife. He already had two daughters and was about to have a third (she arrived in 1974), all by the age of 30.
This area round here used to be only vineyards, but there are fewer now. They were making very fresh wines here and began exporting to the USA and Canada. They now sell 50-60% to export markets. They also make eaux de vie from wine.
Most of the grapes they use are estate fruit, but they are also collaborating with a winery in Nemea and for the sweet Mavrodaphne they buy some grapes in. They are trying to grow by planting more vineyards.
Production is around 100 000 bottles annually. The main vineyard is 35 km from the winery, with sandy soils, 3 km from the sea. They have the aeonian sea on one side with the mountains the other side, creating a special climate with a 10 C diurnal shift in summer. The vines are deeply rooted. They are irrigated but only when it’s necessary, although with climate change this is needed more. Next year they will be certified organic.
The focus is solely on indigenous varieties, such as Mavrodaphne, Muscat Rion, Sideritis.
Thanassis works with two of his daughters, Erifili and Dmitra.
Parparoussis Sideritis 2022 Achaia, Greece
12.5% alcohol. Harvested in November, this is a light-pink skinned grape, with some grapes a bit more coloured than other. The bunches have a really open cluster architecture. For 35 years they were the only ones to make a bottled wine from Sideritis, but it is now gaining in popularity. Very fresh and aromatic with a slight minty hint and some lime fruit. In the mouth it is pure and quite textural with a hint of red apple, some pear fruit and moderate acidity, which helps give a smooth mouthfeel. A really appealing wine with lots of personality. 89/100 (€11 retail)
Parparoussis PaPetite Fleur Rosé 2022 Achaia, Greece
12.5% alcohol. This is the first wine that he made, and it is a rosé from Sideritis with 12 hours skin contact. Pale in colour, this has lovely pear and apple fruit with a lovely stony edge and some subtle cranberry notes, finishing with a little bit of structure that adds interest. Dry and detailed with nice weight. 90/100 (€11 retail)
Parparoussis Assyrtiko 2021 Achaia, Greece
13% alcohol. This spends 6 months on the lees and is vinified in stainless steel. Lively and vital with a strong citrus core but also some more tropical fruity notes: spice and lemon notes, as well as some apricot and pear. Lovely fresh finish with some stony notes, and some spice. 91/100 (€15)
Parparoussis Reserve 2016 Nemea
13.5% alcohol. Agiorgitiko, 24 months in oak, mainly used. Lovely aromatics with sweet red cherry and berry fruit, a hint of vanilla and some warm dried herb notes. In the mouth this is smooth and elegant with lovely sweet strawberry and cherry fruit, some spicy definition, and a mellow core with soft tannins. This is classic, elegant and really fine and a hint of liquorice and sweet cinnamon on the finish. 93/100 (€22)
Parparoussis Pronomio 2018 PGI Peloponnese
13.5% alcohol, aged 24 months in barrel. 95% Agiorgitiko, plus a bit of Mavrodaphne and an unknown other. Vibrant, juicy berry fruits on the nose: the 5% addition of the other two varieties makes a huge different. Cherries, plums, some sappy green notes. The palate is fresh and pure with nice intensity of sweet fruits, with cherries and plums and a bit of spice. Lovely grip, and good acidity. Lovely wine. 93/100 (€27)
Parparoussis Taos 2018 Achaia
14% alcohol. 100% Mavrodaphne from their own vineyards, two years in barrel. Taos is the name of the peacock in ancient Greek. Really distinctive aromatics here with cherries, raspberries and mint, as well as some cedar and herb savouriness. The palate is juicy and bright with a sweet, almost grapey edge to the berry and cherry fruit, with some herbal/juniper hints. Has this nice combination of sweet and savoury with lovely fruit. So distinctive. 92/100 (€22)
Parparoussis Muscat de Rio Patras 2018
Sun dried for 10 days and naturally fermented (wild yeasts, many of which will come from the bees) to 12% alcohol, then leaves 200 g/l of sugar. The harvest starts with this on 20th August. Highly aromatic and grapey with some spicy, honeyed notes as well as a hint of barley sugar. The palate is rich, very concentrated and pure with grapey richness and a lot of sweetness, finishing with some fine spices. So rich, but there’s balance here too, and great purity. Remarkable stuff. 94/100 (€17 for 50 cl)
Parparoussis Mavrodaphne of Patras Réserve 2003
19% alcohol. Fortified when the sugar gets to about 80 g/l with their own spirit made from wine, and spends 18 years in barrel. Spicy and earthy on the nose with some cherry and berry fruit. In the mouth this is rich and textured, sweet and spicy, with some woody hints and also some cherry and plum fruit. Has a dry spicy edge, with lovely earth and spice. It’s sweet, but not cloying. 93/100 (€24 for 50 cl)