Domaine Porto Carras
On the western side of Chalkidiki`s Sithonia Peninsula, where the verdant slopes of Mt. Meliton stretch down to mingle with the crystal clear waters of Toroneo Bay, 475 hectares of the largest and most picturesque Greek vineyards lie amphitheatre-like. These vineyards are some of the largest in Europe.
Its wines, famed throughout the known world bearing the place names Toroni, Acanthus and Olympus and referred to in many texts of ages past, were the forerunners of the present-day wines from the Slopes of Mt. Meliton region, now recognized as VQPD.
Giannis Carras had the idea of reviving this area around 1960, deciding to utilize all the potential of the valuable dowry that nature had bestowed on the unique Slopes of Mt. Meliton.
WINE – GROWING REGION The `Slopes of Mt. Meliton`
A region with excellent ecological conditions.
The vineyards have been designed by university professors from the Thessaloniki School of Agronomy in an exemplary manner. For the first time a systematic study was carried out on the suitability of foreign varieties in Greece.
The Domaine`s people have respected the magnificence of this unique environment. Wherever there were forests, they have been left untouched. Thus the trees today still constitute a natural barrier, trapping the evening atmospheric moisture which helps the vines withstand the hot days of summer.
Worthy of mention as well is the extremely significant contribution of the father of modern wine-making, University of Bordeaux Professor Emile Peynaud who assisted in developing the first `Greek` Cabernet Sauvignon. Ideally adapted to the chalky and schistose soils of the Domaine, allows this variety to achieve great heights internationally, winning coveted awards, prizes and medals.
The first vineyards and olive groves began to be planted at the beginning of 1965, while work also commenced then on the innovative tourism complex which is associated with the Domaine Porto Carras, creating a real revolution in the hotel and wine-making sector in Greece at that time.
Today the `Slopes of Mt. Meliton` vineyards are a model of organic viniculture, in line with modern international trends respecting the consumer and the environment.
Thanks to the exceptional climate conditions prevailing in the area, the Domaine`s vineyards are today considered to be one of the rarest cases where most vine diseases are non-existent. Plant protection is achieved solely by using sulphur and copper so that cultivation can be certified as purely organic. Due to the dry and hot climate in the area, only organic fertilizers are used. The yield per 1000m2, which does not exceed 800 kilos demonstrates that the viticultural potential of the area is extremely high.
The hilly areas in the region create excellent ecological conditions for cultivating the 27 select varieties that thrive on hotter southwestern slopes at an altitude of 200-300 m. These conditions allow the Asyrtiko, Athiri, Malagouzia, Sauvignon Blanc and Rhoditis varieties to produce the highest quality white wines. Among the red wines, the famed Greek Limnio variety referred to in texts of Aristotle stands out accompanied by the cosmopolitan varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah, which at altitudes from 300 to 400m have adapted wonderfully to the cool north-eastern slopes of the region. Since the beginning of 2002 a program to replant 170 hectares of vineyards has been underway and will be completed in April 2005.
When the winery was built in 1970, it was just like the vineyards themselves, marked a turning point for the Greek wine industry.
Its location, set in a valley, was chosen so that it would be invisible to the passer-by, both from the road and from the sea thus protecting the natural beauty of the landscape. The selected position of the winery within the Domaine`s vineyard facilitates in innumerable ways the rapid preparation of grapes, avoiding once and for all the oxidation which is frequently caused by timely transportation of the grapes to other areas.
The ideal day for commencing the harvest is also carefully chosen so that ripeness in terms of flavour always coincides with ripeness in terms of aroma.
The wines are vinified with skill and care within the winery`s state-of-the-art facilities by experienced enologists who are students of the great Emile Peynaud.
Since 2000, the Technical Olympic Group of Companies has assisted dynamically in modernizing the winery. In the `must room` the hydraulic presses operate with electronic accuracy. The iron tanks have made way for twin-wall stainless steel ones and fermentation is now fully thermally controlled.At the same time, in the winery`s air-conditioned cellar authentic French oak barrels, which are replaced every year, ensure ideal ageing conditions for the leading red wines and in particular Chateau Carras, Syrah and the white Malagouzia.