Uncorked: Andreas Labridis

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

OPSO, INO and Kima co-founder Andreas Labridis on Greek restaurants and wine

Related tags Andreas Labridis OPSO INO Greek cuisine London Kima Wine Sommelier Uncorked

The co-founder of London Greek restaurants OPSO, INO, Pittabun and the upcoming Kima on Greek wine, screwcap mishaps and Petrus.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
In 2014, I visited Funky Gourmet (a two-Michelin star restaurant in Athens). I was blown away by how a carefully selected paired wine can complement and enhance the taste of a dish. I recall taking a bite from the food and sipping on the wine whilst taking moment to fully appreciate the combination of the flavours and aromas. That excellent meal and wine pairing was the beginning of my wine journey. 

Describe your wine list at OPSO, INO and your upcoming restaurant Kima
At OPSO in Marylebone we were the first to introduce an all Greek wine list back in 2014. We currently offer around 60 to 80 Greek wines, ranging from all across the mainland as well as numerous islands. Since early this year we decided to introduce a selection of 20 fine wines from the regions of Tuscany, Bordeaux, Napa Valley to name a few to the list, which have been received remarkably well. At INO in Soho, we wanted to offer our guests the option of trying many Greek wines. INO after all means wine in ancient Greek. Our wine list is exclusively Greek and all wines are offered by the glass. Our newest restaurant KIMA (which will open next month opposite OPSO) will offer a selection of some of our favourite Greek and international fine wines. We will also offer an exciting selection of sake and some of Greece’s finest artisanal white spirits like Tsipouro and aged Tsikoudia. 

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
Although it did not happen to me per se, a few years ago we were dining at a restaurant in London and enjoying a bottle of wine I chose with the sommelier. I ordered the same bottle with the waiter and noticed after a while he was in the corner really struggling to get the bottle open. He was trying for a good 2-3 minutes to open it. In the end he realised it was a screwcap.  

Name your top three restaurant wine lists 
Noble Rot, Trivet and Ekstedt At The Yard (all in London). 

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
Jancis Robinson. Her interpretation and the way she can explain wine to a wide range of audience is something very impressive. I find her comments easy for someone with little knowledge or taking their first steps in wine easy to follow, whilst for those who want to go deep into the specifics of a wine, producer, territory, variety, her depth of knowledge is remarkable. I must also mention my good friend Terry Kandylis. We have worked closely with Terry in our restaurants and have enjoyed seeing him grow into the successful sommelier, buyer and winemaker he is today. 

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently? 
I will take you to Greece and specifically to the island of Santorini. Ktima Sigalas recently launched a new wine called 7 Choria, meaning seven villages. Paris Sigalas, one of Greece’s most respected wine producers, has taken a of leading grape variety, Assyrtiko, and planted the same grape in seven different villages across Santorini. Each village yielded an exceptional wine, however the differences in the soil and microclimate are evident, truly showcasing the effect of these on the wine. Each case contains seven bottles, one from each village. 

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Dry, mineral and balanced. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
At OPSO we serve one of my all-time favourite wines which I find to be of exceptional value. Located in North Greece, the Vourvoukelis family produce a wine of the Malagouzia variety. This is an aromatic, medium body wine with a buttery mouth, perfect on its own for the hot summer months. 

What is your ultimate food and drink match?
Raw or grilled fish with Assyrtiko. And Xinomavro with any tomato dish. 

Old World or New World?
Old World when going after a classic style, structure and taste. New World when feeling curious and intrigued.

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants? 
Leaving me with an empty glass. I would much prefer pouring the wine myself on a busy night than to be left with an empty glass.  

Who is your favourite producer right now?
I am a big fan of many Greek wine producers, and especially the younger generation using modern techniques. Given the terroir of Greece and the numerous indigenous varieties I am fortunate enough to have my favourite producers by region. Ktima Karanikas produces remarkable sparkling wines in Northern Greece, Ktima Avantis with wineries in Evia in Central Greece and Santorini, as well as Nikos Karatzas from OENOPS wines and Stelios Boutaris to name a few. I could go on and on.

As the owner of restaurants that are focused on Greek wines, what question do you most get asked by customers?
What Greek wine tastes like Sauvignon Blanc. This is a common but interesting question to be asked. In my reply I either suggest a Greek Sauvignon Blanc, or for those wanting to try something different I suggest a Vidiano, an indigenous variety of Crete. 

Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
If you asked me a few years ago, I would say Greece, however Greek wine has come a very long way and great progress has been made over the past decade. A modern and educated generation of growers and winemakers has transformed the way the vines are planted and maintained whilst new methods and standards have produced some incredible wines. I see the staples of Greek wines such as Assyrtiko and Xinomavro have become established and internationally recognised varieties, whilst numerous other varieties are becoming known to an audience outside of Greece. 

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
I would try my luck and ask for a bottle of Petrus from the best vintage on record. 

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