Spring in Paros is the best time for tours. So we, the editorial team of allwinestories found ourselves on this island of the Cyclades to discover wonderful landscapes, forgotten vineyards and people who give life to them.
A few months ago, at Easter 2017, we visited the Parian vineyard. A few kilometers outside Parikia of Paros and following the route to the village of Kamares, we reached a crossroads. We moved right into the rural road along small blooming vines. At the entrance of an unspoilt farm, Mr. Makis Kostikas, architect engineer, winemaker and giver of life to forgotten plots of vineyards, awaited us.
We walked between old olives that diligently covered the little bioclimatic winery Alissafi under their grayish leaves. The name Alissafi is actually the name Elisabeth in the local dialect.
Areas with simple lines, in harmony with the Cycladic environment in earthly colors, dominated by stone and wood. At the atmospheric small winery, the word hospitality acquires a new meaning.
Mr. Makis Kostikas talks about himself while opening a bottle of Aidani wine…
I was born in Athens in 1939. But I come from Metsovo in Epirus, a place of great cultural and wine tradition. I went to Varvakio School, from which I graduated in 1957. Then I passed the exams and entered the Department of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens. I graduated in 1963 and since then I have successfully practiced architecture as a freelancer, a demanding job with a holistic perception that has taught me a lot.
In 1993, while studying and supervising a work at Antiparos, I was shown an estate in Paros, in the area of “Livadia” – Kamares, at Naousa. An estate of 10 acres with vines, olive trees, four “dwellings” and a wine press.
When did you decide to come to Paros?
In 2002 I made the decision to repair the dilapidated “dwellings” and add a small winery. And the following year, because “to escape destiny is impossible”, following my intuition I became involved with the vineyard and the small olive grove, adopting organic farming, whose final product I have always believed that will have added value for the future . I have integrated the estate to organic farming programs in BIO (organization for the control and certification of organic products) and have simultaneously begun to attend seminars about wine and oil, but also to “study” the vine cultivation and olive trees. As I penetrated into the “secrets” of the products, my new creative and erotic activity “flared up”.
In 2005 I made my first organic olive oil – from the Koronean variety – with the characteristics of the extra virgin oil with a rich fruity taste. In 2008 I started the first experimental winemaking with Greek-Canadian winemaker George Papageorgiou as a consultant and teacher, a friend from the past and internationally famous for his wines. The few bottles I have from the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 refute the myth that white wines do not “age”.
Since 2012, I have decided to deal with the local varieties, “Aidani”, “Mantilaria”, “Monemvasia” and “Vaftra”, and to organize a small experimental winery to highlight their virtues and characteristics. In 2015 I was licensed to produce and bottle at the small winery with a capacity of up to 10,000 bottles and this is where a journey with great charm, effort and many agonies begins.
In 2016, four labels were released: the white Aidani and Monemvasia, the rosé Mantilaria and the red multi-varied Mantilaria, Vaftra and Monemvasia, in small quantities of 500-1000 bottles a label.
My ambition is not to compete with the big wineries, but to bring out wines of memorable dynamic of flavour – because the senses have memory – and to highlight the local varieties of Paros.
I had the first confirmation of the above project when I accepted the visit of Switzerland’s largest wine merchant at my winery. After a three-hour wine tasting, starting with wines of the first wineries from 2008 to 2016, he congratulated me on my wines, especially the red ones. He was greatly surprised when he found out that I had been dealing with red wine for only four years.
The more time passes, the more I become convinced that when you offer nature love and affection, it repays you with unexpected gifts. As for the financial reward, I’d rather not talk about it, because one can spend a “significant fortune” over the years and get a minimum reward years later.
Tell me an ideal pairing between food and wine
In the Cyclades, a grilled fish meal can be accompanied by the white organic Aidani, chilled at 10 degrees. When I try it, I always remember the saying of the great Greek painter I. Tsarouchis that “good food is made in the pot and not in the cauldron“.