Founded in 1979, Semeli is named after Semele, the mother of Dionysos: god of the grapevine, wine and joyous celebration. The estate is located in the picturesque village of Koutsi in the lush, upland valley of Nemea, characterized by bountiful vineyards perched on hillsides interspersed with ancient Cypress trees and olive groves. 250 acres are planted to the native grapes Moschofilero, Roditis, Malagousia, along with international varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. The state of the art, gravity flow winery and surrounding vineyards are situated at 2,165 feet in elevation; taking full advantage of the sloping terrain, Semeli forgoes mechanical methods that can damage the grapes and rather, relies on the force of gravity in the pressing, barreling and bottling processes. Although it lacks official certification, Koutsi is considered by local winemakers to be a ‘Cru’ due to its unique microclimate, low yielding vineyards and propensity to produce balanced, concentrated wines. Although Nemea is known primarily for red wines and the native Agiorgitiko in particular, we have a soft spot for the region’s fresh, aromatic and not-lacking-in-character whites like this delicious and quirky ‘Oreinos Helios’ blend.
While it’s a little counterintuitive to assume that these two completely distinct and assertive varietals would go together, the combination works surprisingly well! Made up of 80% Moschofilera and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, this lively blend is bursting with aromas of rose water, citrus blossom, white peach and Bosc pear. On the palate, which is medium-bodied, lush and creamy in texture, the citrus-leaning and herbaceous Sauvignon blanc helps to tame the opulent floral quality of the Moschofilera, yet does not overwhelm its lovely charm. A peppy acidity cuts through the subtle richness in the wine, while notes of key lime pie, fennel pollen and grapefruit zest flow onto a crisp and clean finish. We recommend this with a fragrant dish of the sea such as a fish stew or shellfish steamed in an herby, buttery white wine broth.