Domaine Porto Carras winery
The vineyards of Domaine Porto Carras are located on the western coast of the Sithonia peninsula in Halkidiki, Greece. At the point where the lush slopes of Mount Meliton incline gently to meet the transparent waters of the Gulf of Torone, 475 hectares of spectacularly terraced vineyards make-up one of the largest and most picturesque vineyards in Greece and possibly in Europe.
The vision of creating this project was inspired in 1965 and it was meant to bring radical change to the wine industry in Greece. There was a great potential that nature has so generously bestowed on the virgin Mount Meliton, so that to provide an ideal location for the vineyards.
Domaine Porto Carras vineyards
The hilly areas on which the vineyards were to be planted, and from which the visitor can view the charming coastline of the gulf of Torone, are endowed with a unique ecological system. They are capable of sustaining many grape varieties suitable for wine making. As a matter of fact clusters of vineyards have existed throughout Halkidiki in ancient times. The quality of wines produced was such, that they became known to the ancient world by the names of their places of origin. Such wines as from Torone, Akanthos, Olynthos and others were mentioned in many ancient texts of that period. These were the fore runners of the modern system of appellation of origin. As it so happened, the wines eventually produced from Domaine Porto Carras came to acquire their own modern appellation of origin. In 1981 the Estate was recognised as an "Appellation d’ Origine Controlle" zone under the Greek name "Playes Melitona" which translates "Slopes of Meliton" or in French "Côtes De Meliton".
In this unique context some of the finest Greek white varieties have been grown such as Roditis, Athiri, Assyrtiko and of late, the rare Malagouzia. Amongst the red varieties, the superb Limnio proudly dominates. This indigenous north Aegean variety was mentioned by Aristotle by its ancient name of Limnia. Alongside the Greek varieties, seven French varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, have adapted magnificently to the hospitality of the region.
When the vineyards reached maturity Professor Peynaud was called in to direct the wine making and, true to ancient Greek tradition and modern Bordelaise practice, to determine the blends to produce the Estate range of wines. This would lay the ground for the vinification tradition of the region as an appellation zone. Professor Peynaud was assisted by a French oenologist M. Mazuric who has now joined the Estate again, as the chief oenologist in charge. M. Mazuric, with a tremendous wealth of experience to his credit, is now entrusted with the task of maintaining the continuity of the standards of quality and wine making set out by Professor Peynaud well into the future.
Thanks to the right choice of location and personnel, a trend setting vineyard was established, doing justice to the ambitions of its creators. An impressive range of wines is produced by Domaine Porto Carras under its own appellation of origin, Côtes de Meliton. The wines are endowed with sufficient character to meet the most stringent demands of the Greek and foreign markets, to which they have been exported for many years.
Domaine Porto Carras, like Porto Carras Resort, is the creation of a visionary entrepreneur with vast economic proportions.
Both these investments were initiated in the early sixties with a common goal - to bring radical innovations to the hotel and wine industries of Greece.
Domaine Porto Carras winery
The planning of the vineyard was exemplary. Having bought a large expanse of land from the Monastery of Grigoriou in the region of the village of Neos Marmaras - a region with no tradition of viticulture, a series of methodical experiments began. Professors of agronomy from the University of Thessaloniki, with the crucial support of Professor Peynaud from the University of Bordeaux, father of modern vinification in the bordeaux wines, began testing the adaptability of various grape varieties to the climatic and soil conditions of the estate. Twenty-seven varieties were planted in various locations, 13 of these were French and 14 Greek. It is worth noting that this was the first time that a systematic evaluation of the French varieties suitability for planting in Greece was carried out, and that subsequently, the first Cabernet Sauvignon to be commercially vinified in Greece, came from the slopes of Mount Meliton.
The spirit of Domaine Porto Carras is characterized by the values of patience and devotion.
The first plantings took place in 1967 and the first results were available in 1972. The experiments showed that the French varieties fared better on the cooler north - eastern slopes (at altitudes between 300 and 400 m.), where as the indigenous varieties, found an ideal environment on the warmer south - western slopes at altitudes between 200 and 300 m. Seven French (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Frank, Syrah, Merlot, Cinsault, Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc) and four Greek varieties (Limnio, Roditis, Assyrtiko, Athiri) achieved the best results and were planted in substantial quantities. The ratio of white varieties to red is 6:4. In 1989 a program of replanting was completed with the notable addition of the unique Greek variety Malagouzia.
Domaine Porto Carras vineyards
In its present from, the estate of Domaine Porto Carras has an area of 475 ha. and is one of the largest in Europe. From the outset, the ecological cultivation of the vines was of great importance to the concept. The planting of the estate was accomplished with deep respect for the environment. Existing forests remained, forming natural barriers that retain the humidity of the atmosphere at night and help the vines to resist the high summer temperatures.
All the vineyards are planted in terraces, allowing for perfect drainage. The soil is of finely broken schist, enabling the roots to reach great depths with ease in their search for moisture. Yields are deliberately kept exceptionally low, 40 hcl/ha. for the white varieties and 30 hcl/ha. for the red varieties. Harvesting is carried out by hand, and usually begins in mid August and lasts for four weeks.
The importance of the vineyard for the production of first class wines in Greece is indisputable. It is generally agreed that estate is qualitatively one of the most outstanding vineyards in Greece. In 1981, on the basis of a decade’s experience in growing and vinifying the several varieties, the estate of Domaine Porto Carras was approved as an Appellation Controlée zone, under the name Côtes de Meliton. All the wines are produced under the regulation of the appellation from grapes of specified varieties, grown on the estate at specific locations, with specific yields and in blends of specified ratios.
The fact that Domaine Porto Carras controls the entire production process and does not buy grapes from other producers, ensures that certain essential standards of control can be maintained. Each variety is harvested at exactly the right moment for vinification. Furthermore, the central location of the winery within the estate in relation to the vineyards, means that the grapes reach the presses in the shortest possible time, thus avoiding the risk of oxidization due to excessive exposure to the sun and a long period of transport.
Domaine Porto Carras vineyards
Thanks to the exceptional ecological profile of the region, the vineyards are virtually free of most of the vine diseases that trouble producers in other regions. Such diseases find it difficult to take hold and even more difficult to develop and spread in Porto Carras’ vineyards. Plant protection, mainly from insects, has thus required minimal use of conventional elements such as sulphur and copper. The warm and exceptionally dry climate of the area further limits the need for the use of chemical fertilizers. Awareness and respect for the free gift of nature have rendered the vineyards at Côtes de Meliton a paradigm of ecological viticulture. It has established Domaine Porto Carras, as a trendsetter, firmly on track with the contemporary global devotion to respect both the consumer and the environment. Coupled with carefully controlled yields, ecological viticulture has proved to be most rewarding in producing excellent vineyards, capable of producing wines of exceptional quality.
Domaine Porto Carras wine tasting room
Just a few meters from the winery, amid the towering trees at the entrance to the north-eastern side of the Domaine, a renovated multi-purpose building houses certain complementary activities sought by demanding visitors looking for a rounded tour of the present-day charms and unique history of the legendary Domaine.
Crossing the flower-swept entrance, one enters the reception area where select bottled wines are available as well as rare series of ‘special bottlings’ and vintages while in the modern boutique one can browse through interesting books, brochures and CD ROMs, while also having the option to choose smart gifts and souvenirs from among the useful wine accessories in the display cases.
Porto Carras wine cellar
At the wooden tasting bar each visitor can try a glass of all the Domaine’s wines to identify which tastes suit him or her best.
After this, a well designed area with tables, gentle music and dishes which are the ideal accompaniment to the wines, is served. We have created this area to allow you to unwind and chat while our specially laid out VIP Lounge is available for professional wine tasting sessions.
Lastly, before enjoying the brief, interesting video in the projection room, it is worth casting a glance at the letters from VIPs who have stayed at Halkidiki’s historic Domaine, whose choice confirms our superiority when it comes to quality.
When the winery was built in 1970, it represented, like the vineyards, an extremely important step forward for the Greek wine industry. Its location in a valley, was chosen to be invisible to passers-by from the road or from the sea, thus preserving the secluded beauty of the site. As for equipment, it featured elements that only recently have become standard in other wineries. These included gravitational flow of must, temperature-controlled fermentation vats and ageing cellars, and the use of oak barrels. Since 1990, Domaine Porto Carras has been buying annually from France, 150 new 250 lt. oak barrels to age the prestigious brands Chateau Porto Carras, Syrah Porto Carras and Malagouzia Porto Carras.
At the end of 1994, a three-year investment program to renovate the winery, was completed. An extensive renewal and re-building program has already started. The program aims to renew the winery and to make the vineyards capable of receiving visitors all the year round.
The meticulous care and devotion to every detail from vineyard management to harvest, vinification, ageing and bottling, justifiably earn for Domaine Porto Carras the title and pride of being considered the "biggest small producer" in Greece. The range of wines produced by the Estate and exported to 15 countries, are wine ambassadors for Greece worldwide.
The history and tradition of the estate, the international distinctions and awards of its wines, the knowledge of its production team and the experience of its sales and distribution force, enable the Domaine to secure the presence of its wines firmly in the Greek and international markets now and into the future.
Since the end of December 1999, the ownership of the entire Porto Carras has passed on to the Technical Olympic Group of Companies.
Listed below, are some of the comments that have been written by the foreign press on the wines of Domaine Porto Carras:
"Chateau Porto Carras is Greece’s best red wine" -
Charles Metcalfe, BBC television.
"The vineyards of Domaine Porto Carras, growing among the pine trees and olive groves, must be some of the loveliest in Europe... The wines, most particularly Chateau Porto Carras, are a testament to his ("Carras") conviction that Greece can, and does, produce fine wines."
Maggie Mc Nie NW Harrods Book of Fine Wine.
"I was amazed at the quality of the Domaine Porto Carras... This very beautiful vineyard produces the Chateau Porto Carras, a dense wine with a long finish and very beautiful tannins, impeccably vinified."
Chantal Lecouty, Le Figaro