This Peloponnese winery was among those who shaped the face of modern Greek winemaking back in the 1990s. Today, Rouvalis is a benchmark producer, famous for their authentic terroir-driven wines, with some of the most impressive examples being amphora-made.
Rouvalis wine originates from one of the most unique terroirs in all of Greece. Their vineyards are located in northern Peloponnese, in the mountainous region above the town of Aigion. The landscape here is truly stunning. Small parcels of vines are scattered on the hilly terraces overlooking the Corinthian Gulf.
However, this beautiful scenery comes at a cost. The local terroir is notoriously difficult to manage. First of all, the vines are planted on the slopes with an average incline of 35% and with altitudes ranging from 500 to 1050 metres. Second, the soils here are poor and rocky. And finally, there are terraces. In these conditions the use of any machinery becomes almost impossible. Indeed, in the world of wine this type of viticulture is even called ‘heroic’ – such is the amount of hard manual labour that it requires.
From Vines To Wines
Rouvalis Winery was founded in 1990 by Angelos Rouvalis. Originally from Aigion, he studied oenology in Bordeaux. Having returned to his homeland, Angelos planted his first vineyard and in 1994 built a model gravity-fed winery. It was the first winery of this kind in Greece, built on a rock at 6 consecutive levels. Each level has its own specific function, from grape pressing to wine maturation.
Today, 30 years since its foundation, the winery has passed into the hands of the new generation headed by Theodora Rouvali, an oenologist with a MSc in Viticulture and experience in many vineyards in France, Chile, Spain and New Zealand. She works alongside her partner, Antonio Ruiz Pañego, a Spanish oenologist who previously worked at some of the best Grand Cru of Burgundy. This stellar team introduced a number of new techniques and took Rouvalis wine range to new heights.
Particularly, Antonio has suggested to experiment with the amphorae fermentation. When he worked in Bordeaux, at Domaine Frédéric Magnien, they used clay jars for some of their top wines, and the results were amazing. At Rouvalis, Antonio and Theodora are using amphorae for Tsigello, a local clone of Mavrodaphne grape. The goal is to showcase the magnificent aromas of this variety, while at the same time softening its grippy tannins. Rouvalis Mavrodaphne wine are truly impressive, lively and fragrant, with notes of juicy black fruit, flowers and herbs, showing real depth and well-integrated tannins.
In addition to their amphorae wines, Rouvalis makes a range of red and whites of indigenous grape varieties. Rouvalis wines boast ample freshness, solid structure and a great complexity of flavours.