The House of Smoothness

26 Feb 2014
4 min read
Greece is going through an extremely hard economic time at the moment. All the more thrilling to discover how a combination of nature, time and human talent can create something extraordinary—the case at hand is METAXA, writes Eva-Luise Schwarz in FOUR’s UK Edition

If you think the best you can get from an island in the Aegean Sea is a few days on the beach and the sun, think again. I flew over the Aegean to the edge of Europe, all the way to the wonderful green island of Samos. There I discovered its small, extraordinary vineyards, planted in terraces the size of gardens. These vineyards give birth to some of the finest Muscat grapes in the world, small, sun-filled berries that yield sumptuous golden wines. The grapes are meticulously cultivated on terraced perches on the green slopes of Mount Ambelos. And this is where the House of Metaxa sources its Muscat. Lovingly tended by the winegrower as a side-line and family tradition (and helped by generations of friends and family during harvest time), the grapes of Samos are nourished by the islands’ golden sunlight, fresh sea breezes, keeping the temperature low, and tough mineral soil, which makes the roots grow deep— giving birth to wines of unsurpassed roundness and complexity. The finest among them are chosen by the Metaxa Master Constantinos Raptis to blend with his aged distillates, thus creating the signature smoothness of METAXA. A touch of a secret bouquet of May rose petals (collected by priests in Northern Peloponnese) and Mediterranean herbs infuse their elegant aromas into the final blend.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. METAXA was founded in 1888 by Spyros Metaxa, a man of fearless vision who set out to create the most unique smoothness in a spirit. He was a true entrepreneur, a risk-taker and a natural maverick. He dreamed of creating a spirit that would attain an entirely new degree of taste and refinement, because spirits at the time tended to be harsh on the palate, without much aroma or character. They heated the body and burned the palate but gave no pleasure to the senses. Panos Sarantopoulos, CEO of the House of Metaxa, says: “Spyros’ aspiration was to create a drink that would be spirited, yet smooth on the palate—truly rewarding to the senses. While other spirits stopped at distillation or the ageing of distillates, the METAXA founder went beyond the conventions of his day. By selecting the noblest ingredients and bringing together aged wine distillates and Muscat wines, Spyros created a spirit that attained an altogether new level of smoothness, one that today is celebrated the world over. He placed originality at the heart of his vision and his three principles are still alive today: the secret art of crafting METAXA, the obsession with superior quality, and the talented touch of a man—the Metaxa Master—the maestro entrusted with the keys to METAXA’s secrets.”

METAXA is now sold in more than 60 countries worldwide. And because it is made with fruit, flowers and herbs, it defies being categorised, unlike any other spirit. It cuts through time and social class as it is endlessly versatile and ideal for long drinks and light, festive cocktails bursting with sunshine. One of which is the Sunball, a glowing ball on the edge of the glass that lights up when filled with liquid—providing great entertainment at after-dark parties.

The METAXA Collection

The METAXA Stars Range celebrates the continuity and constancy of METAXA style over time. METAXA 5 Stars (Smoothness Revealed) is dark honey in colour and offers flowery, fruity aromas and soft, slightly woody flavours. It is perfect on its own or at the heart of delicious cocktails and long drinks. METAXA 7 Stars (Smoothness Magnified) features longer-aged Muscat wines and is old gold in colour. It reveals delicate aromas of Muscat and soft vanilla, followed by full, balanced flavours. It is best enjoyed neat or with ice. METAXA 12 Stars (Smoothness Defined) embraces fine wine distillates matured in oak casks for up to 12 years and Muscat wines selected exclusively from the semi-mountainous, terraced vineyards of Samos. It glows with a radiant amber colour flecked with bronze and its lively, concentrated bouquet releases generous aromas of dried flowers and herbs, interwoven with luscious notes of chocolate, butterscotch and hints of orange peel.

The METAXA Reserve Range celebrates the exception: the creativity and imagination of the Metaxa Master. It is called the METAXA Private Reserve and is made in a single, unique batch once a year, where only ingredients that are at their absolute peak are selected. It has a glorious amber colour and delicate aromas of vanilla, dried fruits and spices, followed by full flavours of oak and toffee with a long finish. Best savoured neat or with ice. And finally, the pride and joy of the House, AEN METAXA is the legendary blend of Cask No. 1 that bears the name of Spyros, the founder. Generations of Metaxa Masters have selected their oldest, most exceptional blends—more than 200—for transfer to this cask. Thus, year after year, Cask No. 1 receives the Metaxa Master’s smoothest, most aromatic blends, some of which have been ageing for over eight decades. It concentrates the history of the whole cellar in a glass and is therefore a spirit for collectors. Dark mahogany in colour, it offers rich aromas of dried fruit, citrus peel and wild honey, followed by warm, smooth flavours of spices, almond and mocha.

What makes the entire METAXA Collection even more extraordinary is that it is becoming ever smoother by the day, which is yet another wonder of the Muscat grape and its inestimable capacity for ageing. METAXA is thus the only amber spirit in the world that continues to age inside the bottle.

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