Knossós: the largest and most famous of the ancient Minoan ruins.
Further expeditions into palimpsest.
A cat greets us at the gate, with baskets of oranges.
How the gypsum weathers.
Blossoms in the ruins.
The old road.
I want a whole one fresh. The man will give me one if I buy some juice. Clever.
Can’t say it wasn’t worth it.
We take a taxi a few more kilometres into the hills, to Boutari Winery in Skalani.
They have just renovated their visitors’ facility; it is sleek and state-of-the-art. It is the very beginning of the season, so we are the only ones. They take us on a truncated tour by the vineyards, down into the crushing facilities, and through the aging cellars.
The tour finishes in their brand-new theatre for an interactive multi-media sense-confounding ‘experience’ that is deliciously and bizarrely space-age impressionistic. It tells the story of the Cretan wine tradition through fanciful though deathly serious alien/human hybrid that falls to earth with no sensory knowledge and experiences the world ‘as if for the first time’; we are invited, at a brief point, to behold our small samples placed on little chrome tables to our right, illumined by little flexi-fibre-optics, in a similarly immersive fashion. If that video were exhibited in the MoMA it would be hailed as brilliantly ironic and post-modern. We were the first to view it on four simultaneous screens in oversize black canvas armchairs, the three of us, alone in a two-storey basement somehwere in the hills of Skalani.
We emerge into the light of the glass-walled tasting room, sort of bewildered and waiting to cast some tentative looks.
There are three:
Agiorgistiko 2008 – the white; soft, salmony, pine on the finish.
Fantaxometoho 2010 – the first red; fruit on the nose, peach, melon, muscat, and then woah, a dry acidity, not buttery, not vanilla; citric, chalk, and slight olive note on the finish. Halfway through it gets very quite sour. It’s nice, definitely has some character.
Skalani – the other red; brown-tinged, a similar cold-smoked salmon, tonka bean and leather on the nose, followed by a medium body of black currant, red clay, spice, and light notes of mint and mineral. This one is good, especially for a whole glass. It unfurls and shifts.
Plus they have cool wine gadgets.
We walk back from the winery to Knossós to catch the bus back into town. The roads are full of almonds, olives, bitter oranges, and figs. And hórta.
We pass an ancient Roman aqueduct spanning a valley. We find an access to the main level, underneath the largest arch. Birds roost and reroost about us. It reminds one why augury was a thing.
Back in town, we stop at the store to pick up some food for dinner. I hop across the street to the neighbourhood butcher and cheesemonger. He sells beautiful small-format cheeses, unlabelled, unpasteurised. Aged anthotyro.
Sheep and goat’s milk with a natural, mottled rind. And, um, for 2 euro.
This baby is getting etten tonight.
So fragrant, even before the first cut. Floral and fruity notes from the goat’s milk kept in check by the fatty, grassy robustness of aged sheep. Delicious firm texture with little pockets of tyrosine crystals here and there, just beginning to form.
Know what it goes well with? Fresh bread and chocolate.