Giannis Economou is an enigmatic vigneron producing some of Greece’s most profound wines. With no website or social media presence, nor even a physical signpost to the winery, Domaine Economou is a hidden Cretan gem.
Based on the remote, sparsely inhabited Ziros Plateau – one of the most southerly wine regions in Europe – Giannis spent his youth studying and working in Germany, Bordeaux, and Piedmont, with stints at Château Margaux, Ceretto, and Scavino. In the mid-90s he returned to eastern Crete and expanded his family’s holdings from 3ha of own-rooted, pre-phylloxera vines to almost 20ha across various native varieties, including Liatiko, Mandilari, Vilana, and Thrapsathiri.
Giannis experiments with dozens of wines each vintage, all harvested, extracted, or aged in different ways. His garagiste winery is crammed with barrels and tanks in all shapes and formats, some kept outside all year, others moved to various outbuildings if conditions dictate. An uncompromising perfectionist, he assembles a final blend from one or more varieties to be bottled and released when ready – often after many years.
The reds combine the power and structure of Bordeaux with the finesse and elegance of Barolo and can evoke mature Rioja or Greek-accented Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The whites are rich and oxidative in style – echoing the great white wines from López de Heredia – or focused and mineral, akin to fine Alsatian Riesling.
Although it may have taken decades for Giannis to begin to get the credit he deserves, the quality of his wines has rewired perceptions of what can be achieved with Cretan varieties. Popular with sommeliers in the know, Domaine Economou’s bottles are rarely found outside of top restaurant wine lists in New York, Tokyo, and London. Shrine to the Vine can offer just a handful of bottles of each cuvée.
Economou Assyrtiko, PGI Crete 2014 (£49) Sold out
A rich and oxidative white, with ripe quince and lemon layered with smoke, honeysuckle, and nuts. Textural and oily but with refreshing, tangy salinity. Drink to 2027.
Economou Assyrtiko, PGI Crete 2015 (£78) Sold out
Grand Cru Riesling-like Assyrtiko showing an intense citrussy character alongside petrol notes and flinty minerality. Super fresh with a bright core of acidity. Drink to 2030.
Economou Sitia, PDO Sitia 2015 (£43) Sold out
Vilana (70%) and Thrapsathiri (30%). Honeyed orchard fruits, orange peel, almond, and sea salt. Its oxidative character is balanced by stony minerality. Profound. Drink to 2026.
Economou Mirabello, PGI Crete 2015 (£55) Sold out
Inviting aromatics of semi-dried fruit, black tea, and olives. Savoury, structured Mandilari (40%) is supported by ripe, silky Liatiko (60%). A distinctive, hedonistic red. Drink to 2030+.
Economou Antigone, PDO Sitia 2004 (£124) Sold out
Perfumed with high-toned berry fruit, smoky cinnamon and nutmeg, leather and dried herb notes. Silky, seamless, and endlessly layered. World class – a revelation. Drink to 2034+.
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