The first performance of the Euripides tragedy Bacchae took place in the Theatre of Dionysus, in Pella, in around 408BC. Bacchus (or Dionysus) was the ancient god of wine and joy, and so it's fitting that Ktima Ligas is using the ancient techniques of this wine-producing region to bring both wine and joy to its customers today. You could even say Pella was, in part, quite literally built with wine – as those constructing the Church of the Virgin Mary the Panaghia, built in 1861, used wine in its mortar after the Ottoman rulers banned the use of water for church building.
Thomas Ligas began his quest to get to know the local ecosystem intimately in 1985, looking into traditional methods of viticulture and vinification in an attempt to find ways to accentuate the distinctive qualities of the terroir.
Many grape varieties fell from favour after phylloxera in the 19th century nearly wiped out vine growing across Europe, and so in many ways Ktima Ligas is trying to resurrect these old varieties and farming methods. They now use Roditis, Assyrtiko and Kydonitsa for the white wines, and Xinomavro and Limniona for the reds.View Wines
Thomas & Meli
Today, father and daughter, Thomas and Meli, work hard to find the perfect balance between quality and quantity, although the former always takes precedence. They see their approach as being more than just organic and only use indigenous Greek grape varieties, some of which had nearly been forgotten, such as Kydonitsa.
"Our intervention goes hand in hand with natural growth, without imposition, and aims to safeguard the health and maturity of the grapes, seeking an ideal balance between quality and quantity. Preventive intervention, always in accordance with the principles of organic viticulture, minimises the need for remedial treatment."
Watch Meli's interview with 67 Pall Mall.Follow
The terroir has a lot of sun and fresh air, and set on well-drained soils of loam and limestone. A vibrant ecosystem is also encouraged, including the preservation of the naturally occurring turf. This balance of nature with the needs of the growers means that vines are kept naturally healthy by their surroundings, and little intervention or treatment is needed. The grapes are handpicked between mid-August and late September.
"The gentle slopes of Pella enjoy bountiful sun and air. Our vines draw strength from the loamy sand, limey and well-drained soil, which we keep fluffy and rested, preserving the natural turf. Producing nourishing natural ingredients, the vibrant microcosm that grows in harmonious equilibrium in the soil requires the vine for balanced development."
Despite following such traditional guidelines for their wine production, Ktima Ligas uses modern technology in the vinification process, although sparingly, to help nature as it transforms the grapes into wine.
Tasting the wines of Ktima Ligas truly conjures up the taste and history of this historic area.Location