La Tour Melas is set in 11 hectares near the village of Ahinos in central Greece,
two and half hours drive north of Athens. On an altitude of 300m, the property
is surrounded by ancient, untouched oak forests, overlooking the Aegean Sea .
In 2001, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot vines were imported from France
and planted. Initially, a stone water cistern was constructed for irrigating the young
vines. Subsequent expansion works gave rise to the tower ‘La Tour Melas’.
Nestled on the side of a valley, on clay limestone soil, at 300 meters altitude, the area is sloped South East. This allows the sea breeze to cool the vines during the day, while the rocky terrain keeps the vines warm at night, thus creating an ideal micro-climate.
Uncompromising standards result in vines producing only 30-50 hectolitres per hectare - A scarce yield, especially considering the dense planting. This density combined with the steepness of the vineyards results in less water per vine, hence more concentrated grape juice. Rigorous pruning (guyot simple) further increases concentration. Harvest by hand allows us to pick only the healthiest and most mature bunches with a minimum of stress to vine, fruit and soil.
We use biodynamic organic methods and treat the vineyard as a unified organism. This balances the interrelationship of soil, plants and animals as a self-nourishing system without external input. Flocks of geese and sheep graze the vineyard in winter to keep weeds in control, and our bees begin pollinating the surrounding flowers in spring. In harmony with the astronomical planting calendar, we choose the precise phase of the moon for cultivating, pruning, harvesting, and even for filling bottles and racking barrels.
Wine production has essentially four stages.
- Harvesting & destemming
- Fermenting in temperature controlled vats
- Aging for 22 months in new French oak barrels
- Bottling, storing, labelling and crating
Taking these steps into consideration, we designed a temperature controlled underground structure with four levels. The wine flows by gravity from one step to the next, suitably leaving little need for pumps.
40 workers harvest, sort and destem each grape by hand. This arduous process prevents injury to the stems, while keeping the berries intact, allowing for an extended, three to four week-long ‘skin contact (Maceraction)
The wine flows directly from the vats into the barrels, and then to the bottles. We do not use filters (fining). The gravity flow is gentle and causes no bubbles, resulting in a smooth and silky wine. Oak barrels for aging are supplied by Seguin Moreau, Saury and Hermitage.
Bottling is done by hand, and correct corking requires repeated inspection of each cork during the process. The bottles rest thereafter in our underground cellars for at least 6 months prior to shipping.