Where to find good Greek wines in SoCal

Greek wines aren't yet household names, nor are they widely available. But they are eminently affordable, as this selection suggests. Though the reds listed below are quite different from one another, the whites are similar enough -- each bearing, in its way, a lightly herbaceous aroma and lean, acid-driven texture -- to characterize as ideal for summer fare across the board. Note: The Greek Hellenic alphabet can sometimes yield slightly modified spellings of the varieties listed below, which are in italics. For those wanting to learn more about Greek wine, the website www.allaboutgreekwine.com is an indispensable starting point.

2005 Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko Blend "Atlantis." This blend, which includes small portions of Athiri and Aidani, leads with a bright piney scent and hints of apple. Palate flavors are more about pineapple, but it manages to taste ripe and racy all at once. About $17 at Woodland Hills Wine Co. in Woodland Hills, (818) 222-1111, www.whwc.com; and Wally's Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, www.wallywine.com

2006 Gaia Estate Santorini Assyrtiko "Thalassitis." There is a beautiful elegant high tone to this wine, with scents of pine and a deep pineapple flavor that contributes a roundness to the mid-palate. It's bright and firm on the finish. About $24 at K&L Wine Merchants, Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, www.klwines.com.

2006 Boutari Mantinia Moschofilero. From one of the country's largest export producers, this Moschofilero from the Peloponnese has an aroma of salted green melon or cucumber. The flavors are mostly melon and golden apple, with firm acidity and a slightly bitter almond finish. About $20 at Manhattan Fine Wines in Manhattan Beach, (310) 374-3454, www.manhattanfinewines.com; Mel & Rose Wine & Spirits in West Hollywood, (323) 655-5557, www.melandrose.com; and the Wine House in West Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, www.winehouse.com.

2006 Kir-Yianni Florina Roditis "Petra." Thrilling Roditis from a mountainous region in Northern Greece. It has complex aromas of celery, melon and pine frond, a bit of fennel and grapefruit. The palate flavors are terse and very high-toned, dry, almost austere, with a salty acidity and a pleasing bite. About $13 at Woodland Hills Wine Co. and K&L Wine Merchants.

2006 Domaine Gerovassiliou Epanomi (Thessaloniki) Malagousia. Substantial white from the northern appellation in Thessaloniki. Aromas lead with pleasant notes of pine, lees and well-integrated vanillins from oak. The flavors bear out the oak, with a leesy flavor and broad pear fruit, richer and grander than most Greek whites, with an elegant mouth-feel and impressive length. About $24 at Woodland Hills Wine Merchant; and K&L Wine Merchants.

2005 Tselepos Nemea Agiorghitiko "Driopi." A lightly extracted red from the Peloponnese. It leads with pretty aromas of boysenberry grounded by scents of soil, tar and pine. The palate flavors are light yet firm, refreshingly free of extract with a lot of clean, light texture. It resembles many lightly extracted Italian wines, perhaps most like Rosso di Montepulciano. About $18 at K&L Wine Merchants.

2003 Boutari Naoussa Xinomavro "Grande Reserve." From the mountains of northern Greece, this wine resembles a light, beautifully aged Nebbiolo d'Alba. It leads with delicate aromas of pine, rose and red cherry. On the palate it's firm and vinous, with a fine, earthy, tarry bottom note and lush red cherry flavor. The finish is lightly tannined, but the acidity drives the wine. About $20 at Manhattan Fine Wines and Mel & Rose.

-- Patrick Comiskey

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