A visit to one of the most famous wine production areas, at Mylopotamos of Mount Athos, was made recently by a Master of Wine from Nice in France (the most important title in the world in wine tasting), in order to taste the wines of father Epifanios. Master of Wine Rod Smith described his trip as an odyssey to Mount Athos because it took almost 20 years for the circumstances to be the right ones so he could travel from northern Greece to Mount Athos, «one of the world’s most spiritual and mysterious wine places», as he says.
Rod Smith, Master of Wine, one of only 390 Masters of Wine (MWs) in the world, and one of just a handful in France is an experienced, charismatic and enthusiastic presenter and demystifier of wine. He is holder of an eligible title, which means that he has deep knowledge of the secrets of wine. As Masters of Wine say for themselves their title is so difficult to get that they are fewer even from the astronauts who have stepped on the moon.
It took almost 20 years!
Master of Wine Rod Smith came recently to Thessaloniki as a judge to a wine contest and he managed to to take a couple of days to visit Mount Athos and specifically Mylopotamos, of the Holy Monastery of Great Lavra. His trip began from Ouranoupoli from which he took the boat to Mount Athos. «We started very early from the city, rewarded by the most spectacular sunrise, and drove to Ouranoupoli, where documents are inspected and stamped, and which is the departure point for the boat to Dafni, within the holy area. Here, also we met our host, Father Epifanios of the Mylopotamos monastery», he says.
From there, as he describes at the website of his academy «Riviera Wine Academy», they went straight to Mylopotamos. «The sun broke through on our arrival at Mylopotamos, which is a sub-monastery of the very first, Great Lavra. It is very beautiful and steeped in its own history. I was given a room (the one the archbishop gets!) with a view of the sea on three sides. A traditional travellers welcome of Loukoumi and Tsipouro. Traditionally these were to revive the weary who had arrived on foot», he explains.
Made praiseworthy comments
A little later he discovered what a great cook father Epifanios was and then he tasted his famous wines. «A white is made from Assyrtiko (which Father Epifanios planted in 1990) along with Muscat, and reds from Limnio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Some sweet red wine from Black Muscat completes the range. All the vineyards are organic and the wines are really good. They are exactly as Father Epifanios describes them and his top red, Epifanis, is a sumptuous deep, oaky rich Limnio from the oldest vineyards», he says at his own website.
As he discovered father Epifanios is completely in charge of the winemaking «and although he has assistance, this is the largest production winery (100,000 bottles) on the peninsula, with awards, and external distribution. Despite all this, Father Epifanios says that he makes “Decent wines with their own personal taste. Not for money or for medals”». Later he and father Epifanios went to visit two other larger monasteries, both of which make wine, Vatopedi monastery and Iviron Monastery.
A great visit
This trip was something of a personal odyssey for Rod Smith and when he left from Mount Athos was really sad. «Mount Athos is a beguiling and beautiful place whose many charms will live long in my memory, and one day I would love to return, and spend longer than two days, to achieve the slowed-down pace of life and walk among its olive groves, vineyards, beehives and shady forests in the shadow of the holy mountain», he mentions.
The comments of «Master of Wine» Rod Smith, his experience from the trip at Mount Athos and information about him you can find at the website of his Academy «Riviera Wine Academy – rivierawineacademy.com» and to his personal blog where reference is made to «Product Exhibition of Mount Athos» where you can find all the wines of Mylopotamos, Mount Athos and many other monastic products.