In an open rugged plateau, at the inlands of the county of Sitia and close to the Xerokambos highlands in Eastern Crete you will find the little town of Ziros. At Ziros, which is a quiet, small and traditional village you'll see old stone houses, narrow winding alleyways and impeccably maintained Byzantine churches. Ziros is also the birthplace of the Domain Economou. Winemaker Yiannis Economou is the owner of this 16 hectare vineyards domain. It’s here where superb Greek wines are being produced that have received international praise and recognition.
Sitia born Yiannis Economou completed his degree in Oenology from Milan, than worked in Germany, Piedmont and at Chateau Margaux. In 1994, he moved to the East Cretan village of Ziros, 600 meters up on a circular plateau ringed by mountains and opened his modest winery. At this place Yiannis decided to work with the family owned and organic cultivated vineyards, in one of the most southern terroirs of Europe. With its cooler microclimate, this artisan estate lies on a dream patch of soil. Marl-littered, with petrified shells and urchins, red oxides, sand and schist. It is a sparse, ethereal place, a terroir of such a singularly exposed nature as to lend itself to absolutely lunar comparisons. In its main part, the vineyard is self-cultivated with engrafted vines of 35 to 85 years old. Cultivation is done with absolute respect to environment in accordance to the high standards of organic agriculture and primarily includes local varieties such as Liatiko, Mandilari, Vilana and Thrapsathiri that produce Sitia’s VQPRD and VLQPRD red and white.
Yiannis treats his wines with a kind of obsessive care rarely seen in modern wine making. He is selling off lesser vintages when not satisfied with a year, suffering through incredibly low yields rather than chemically treating the vines, and bottling and releasing his wines when he feels they are ready, instead of being dictated by market principles.
Most famous is the Domaine Economou’s red Sitias, made predominately from the local clone of Liatiko. This grape is exclusively cultivated in East Crete on the Ziros plateau and found no where else in Crete, let alone Greece or the rest of the Mediterranean. It is a small berried fruit that diverges greatly from other Liatikos in the central and western parts of the island. These natural wines undergo only a very low sulphuring to stabilise and are aged for minimum two to three years in barrels before bottling. They exhibit colours of clear light garnet, tawny brown and brick with an orange/amber rim. Notes of orange peel, herbs and sweet spices form the bouquet. Economou’s whites are made in an oxidative style, allowing the hard-scrabble herbs and stones to show through the honeyed texture wines.
Apart from wine, Economou dedicates his passion to olive oil, honey and vinegar production, trying to make his estate a more complete agricultural proposal. Through this passion of Yiannis Economou and because of his brave endeavour, this forgotten plateau in the East of Crete has currently acquired a new lease of life and achieved recognition from all over the world through the excellent produced wines from this domain.
Noticeable is that in 2010 Aegean Airlines as the best regional airline in Europe did launch a new business class service on international flights under the concept of "Discovering Greek wine”. Business Class passengers on international flights as well as visitors to Business Class Lounges in Athens, Thessaloniki and Larnaca, have the privilege to taste a range of selected wines. The purpose of this initiative is to promote top Greek wines throughout Europe, and introduce to Aegean passengers leading Greek winemakers and the Greek wine varieties from regions around the country. It was with no surprise that the red wine of Domain Economou was among the first ones to be selected by Aegean for this purpose.
More info about Domain Economou at their blogspot.