Exploring Greece (5) Tselepos

Website: https://tselepos.gr/?lang=en

Many of the foundations of what’s happening in Greek wine circles have their origin in a quiet revolution in the 1980s and early 1990s, and Tselepos were part of this.

Yannis Tselepos studied in Dijon, graduating in 1979, and then worked for a short while in Burgundy before returning to Greece to act as a consultant. He settled in Mantinia in 1981, and began making wine here. Convinced of the quality of the local Moscofilero grape variety he set up his winery in 1989.

He now has 50 hectares of vines in the region, and also buys in some grapes. The estate was added bit by bit as the wines became successful. He’s now assisted by his son Aris, who studied winemaking in UC Davis.

Aris Tselepos

‘We have a little bit of old world and new world, me and my Dad,’ says Aris Tselepos, ‘and we try to find the balance.’

They are now working in three regions. In Mantinia, where they are based, they work with Moschofilero. They also work in Nemea, which is just a half-hour’s drive away. Nemea is a hot Mediterranean climate, with a 100-1000 m range in altitude. They also make a collaboration wine in Santorini.

A chapel in the vineyards

‘My Dad believes in viticulture as the substance of all winemaking,’ says Aris. In 2021 they began conversion to organics. They grow 80% of their production, and only buy grapes for two wines: the Amalaia sparkling and the Mantinia.


Tselepos Amalia Brut NV Greece
Base wine is 2019, dosage of 9 g/litre. Moschofilero. This is bright and fruit driven with a slight salty edge to the vivid citrus and apple fruit. Nice juiciness, fruit focus and palate weight here with a mandarin and pear richness. 89/100 (€17)

Tselepos Amalia 2018 PDO Mantinia
12% alcohol. Two years on lees, with a dosage of 5.5 g/l. Lively, bright, fruit driven and refined with a crystalline citrus core and some subtle peach and fine spice notes. Very fruity and expressive, with a sense of delicacy. 90/100

Tselepos Amalia Rosé NV Greece
Made from Agiorgitiki in Nemea, 20 months on lees. From high elevation (900 m). 11 g/l disage. Very pale pink in colour. This is delicate and refined, and fruit driven, with sappy red fruits as well as bright citrus. Pure, dry and lively with nice purity and precision. Such a nice delicate wine with real precision. 90/100

Tselepos Mantinia 2022
13% alcohol. Moschifilero, where it all started. Very floral and expressive with nice grapey aromatics with some mandarin and rose petal. The palate is fresh and delicate with a fine spiciness, and some smoky hints, with lovely tapered citrus fruit, showing delicacy, purity and finesse. 90/100 (€11)

Tselepos Blanc de Gris 2022
13.5% alcohol. Cold maceration for a few hours, then aged in a range of different vessels including foudres, eggs and amphorae. This is a wine that can age. Has a little bit of colour. Delicate, fruity and refined with mandarin and lemon, as well as a hint of table grape and fine spices. Supple with a slight sappy green hint as well as red fruit notes. Very refined. 92/100

Tselepos Blanc de Gris 2011
13% alcohol. Has a golden colour with a subtle hint of pink. Fine, fresh and delicate with subtle toastiness and some nuts, but with a core of marmalade, pear and mandarin fruit. There’s nice acidity here: it has developed well and it’s still delicate, with some savoury notes. There’s a hint of cardamon, too. Really lovely. 92/100

Tselepos Gris de Nuit 2022
12-15 h skin contact. Fine and delicate with nice mandarin and cherry character, some pronounced lemony brightness, and a touch of table grape. Fruity and expressive with a hint of salinity and good acidity. Lovely balance with tapering lemon and cherry on the finish. 91/100

Tselepos X.MF 20 Low Intervention 2020 Greece
This is a small 1500 bottle production. Wild ferment with three weeks skin contact, aged in amphora and then bottled with just a small sulfite addition. This is a faded red/pink colour with some orange hints. Lovely floral citrus and cherry aromatics with a touch of aniseed and some green herbs. The palate is powerful and tangy with some marmalade, mandarin, almond and sour cherry, with some cheesy Brettanomyces character, but it works. Tingling finish. 93/100

They always used to visit Santorini on holidays and Aris’ father wanted to make a wine from there. But there is a problem with the fragmentation of land, and each parcel is owned by 20 people. So with a family called Chrissou they started a collaboration with 10 hectares of Assyrtiko 100 years old grown in the typical training system. All the vines on the island are own rooted (volcanic, sandy soil), and are propagated by layering so it’s hard to be specific about the age of the vines.

Assyrtiko from Santorini is the most expensive by far €4500 a ton; here in Mantinia grapes are €550-600 a ton. In Santorini, juice yield is 550 litres per ton. The grapes on Santorini tend not to be in great condition because not everyone farms professionally, and yet the wines they make are amazing.

Canava Chrissou Tselepos Assyrtiko Vieilles Vignes Canava Chrissou 2021 Santorini
13.5% alcohol. Stainless steel vinification. Lively and bright with lovely citrus drive: lemons and mandarin, with a hint of apricot richness. Fruity and linear but also salty and refined. Has a lovely texture and presence with some saline hints. This is concentrated and quite mineral. 94/100

Canava Chrissou Tselepos Laoudia Assyrtiko Single Vineyard 2021
14% alcohol. 50% amphora, 50% concrete eggs. On the southwest slopes of Pyrgos, this is harvested in mid-August. Very textural and fine, with powerful citrus fruit, a touch of apricot and some saline complexity. Very fine and mineral with lovely precision and intensity, and also some apple and melon richness. Such precision, but also refinement. 95/100

Canava Chrissou Tselepos Nikteri 2021 Santorini
14.5% alcohol. Harvested late, whole bunch pressed, then fermented and aged in barrel. Bold, powerful and toasty with peach and pear fruit. Has great density with some oak character meshing well with the bold fruit, finishing quite savoury and chunky. 92/100

Tselepos Dripoi Nemea Classic 2021
Chunky, spicy and quite dense with a savoury, slightly woody edge to the bold blackberry and black cherry fruit. This has a dense, gravelly, savoury edge to the fruit. Cherries, blackberries and a touch of earth, finishing with some sour cherry. 89/100

Tselepos Driopi Nemea Reserve 2019
Savoury, dense and structured with a gravel and earth edge to the cherry and plum fruit. Quite structured and a little sour on the finish, this is a bold, tart food-friendly red with a sort of Chianti character to it. 89/100

Tselepos Driopi Cava 2017 Peloponnese
70% Agiorgitiko from Nemea, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mantinia. 24 months in French oak. Refined, chalky, quite mineral with some earth and spice. Chalky, gravelly and complex with mature flavours alongside sweet blackcurrant fruit and a savoury edge. Pretty old school, but impressive. 92/100

Tselepos Kokkinomilos Merlot 2010
14.5% alcohol. Malt, meat, earth and spice on the evolved nose. Has a concentrated, refined palate with dense blackberry and cherry fruit, rich texture, and some sweetness on the finish, as well as spice, earth and some oak on the finish. Mature, mellow and intense, and has aged in interesting ways. Old school. 91/100

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