Gaia Amphora, Ktima Ligas

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Gaia Amphora, 2018, Ktima Ligas

A full and intense orange wine that balances savoury elements with aromatic fruit

Region: Macedonia, Greece
Grape(s): Kydonitsa
Genre: Organic (in mentality, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Peach, dried apricot, almonds, pine nuts, Provençal herbs, minerality

In the Pella region of Macedonia, 30 miles northwest of Thessaloniki, Euripides tragedy Bacchae was first performed in the early 400s BC. This was a play in honour of the god Bacchus, the god wine and joy, and this is fantastic symbolism for Ktima (‘Domaine’) Ligas ethos of creating wine and joy using ancient techniques. After starting an education in biochemistry in France in the early 1980s, Thomas Ligas shifted his focus to Oenology and graduated in that subject in 1984. He returned to his native Pella, and started learning about the local ecosystems, local grape cultivation and vinification. In 1988 Ktima Ligas was founded, with organic farming at the core. A year later, his twins were born and their life has run parallel to that of the Domaine and, after some years learning their trade studying and working in France, they have both returned to Pella and are working alongside their father today. Thomas, Peli and Jason have 15 hectares now, having gradually grown from the 1.5 that Thomas started with over 30 years ago. Jason is the real face of the winery now, and his time spent with true legend Jacques Selosse in Champagne for two years taught him many things – with one notable lesson being the use of clay vessels for ageing, particularly egg-shaped clay, which has a natural convection current that reducing the need for punching down during maceration. They are both forward thinking and historically inclined, but always with respect for nature at the forefront of their thinking – and a desire for perfect fruit to create fantastic wines.

Gaia Amphora is 100% Kydonitsa, a local variety that Ligas are trying to bring back into notoriety (and they certainly succeed with this banger). From 15 year old vines planted on clay-limestone and sandy soils, the grapes are hand harvested and macerated on the skins for one month in clay amphora. The wine then ages for around 8 months in old oak barrels before bottling without fining, filtration or added sulphur. It is a deep and complex macerated wine, that is balanced with vibrancy and energy from the amphora and acidity and minerality from the grapes and terroir. Our sommelier-at-large remembers a particular bottle dank in Copenhagen several years ago á la Carte together with a few dishes including a cold dish of Mackerel, tomatoes and pine nuts that remains one of his most moving and memorable wine and food experiences.