Although Cava Spiliadis is mainly focussed on Greek wines, it also represents producers from Lebanon, Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries.
It was at Liberty Wines’ annual tasting back in January that I realised I was far from alone in my appreciation of Greek wine. Over lunch, I found myself sitting next to Brett Woonton, co-founder of Vinoteca, and asked him what was trending at his mega fashionable wine bars.
“The biggest thing right now, without a doubt, is Greek wine. People really love it. The problem is that we just can’t get enough of it,” he said, adding that white Assyrtiko and red Xinomavro are the go-to varieties.
One reason, of course, is that the ongoing Greek wine renaissance has been led mainly by small producers, many producing under 500,000 bottles, some well under 100,000. For reasons both of scale and profitability, their inclination has been to stay focused on the domestic market, particularly island producers; why try and compete in the crowded, mega-competitive UK market when you can sell what are often quite pricey wines to appreciative tourists keen to taste the real Greece?
The other reason is that although Hallgarten&Novum Wines has an impressive and extensive range and Berkmann has also gotten in on the act, adding two producers last year, many big importers – including Liberty – haven’t yet caught the Greek wine wave. This has left restaurateurs searching around, and consumers at something of a loss.
Which makes the arrival of Cava Spiliadis on these windy, Brexit-battered shores very timely. The New York-based importer was established by George Spiliadis in 2007 expressly focused on high end Greek wine, but has since branched out to include rare varieties and small volume, quality producers from other mainly European producers.
Spiliadis had its first London tasting last year, which I missed. I popped into its second annual UK tasting in late January at the swanky Estiatoris Milos restaurant in Regent Street, expecting maybe 30/40 wines. I found over 100, the majority Greek and most very good indeed, judging by the appreciative tasting and spitting I witnessed.