The Xinomavro wine producers from Naoussa continue their push towards promoting their unique wines – and they certainly leave a mark wherever they show up. Last week, I joined a number of winemakers/representatives for a whirlwind trip to San Francisco, CA. The president and vice president of the wine cooperative VAENI, and family members from the Estates Chrisohoou, Fountis and Kelesedis were there in person.
We showed sixteen 100% Xinomavro wines, all from the appellation of Naoussa, covering twelve different estates and a total of six vintages. Given that there are only eighteen Naoussa wineries, such a show of force would be even remarkable even in Greece. There was one event taking place on three consecutive days, all sixteen wines were presented at each:
On Thursday night, we had the immense pleasure to interact with forty diners at one of the great original Bay area restaurants, BAYWOLF in Oakland. The four course tasting dinner was the perfect occasion to show just how well Xinomavro pairs with food. The event lasted for more than 4 hours, as the people showed a remarkable interest to learn about the wines and to engage with the winemakers at hand.
At noon on Friday we invited a number of wine professionals for an informal tasting at the iconic RN74 in the heart of San Francisco. The attendees consisted of quite an influential group of people and I am very grateful for their time and support.
Finally on Saturday, we made our way to San Jose and visited The Grapevine, a wine bar/restaurant run by certified Sommelier Valerie Evans. An enthusiastic crowd of 30 to 40 wine lovers came together for their first exposure ever to Xinomavro. This was a superb afternoon, with a lot of engagement from the winemakers.
All wines showed extremely well and it was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to familiarize themselves with Xinomavro and to discover the subtle differences of the wines that result from different terroir and winemaking techniques. Included were many small estates with vineyard holdings from 2.5 – 18 ha, but also larger wineries like Boutari, Kir Yianni and Tsantali. The largest producer included was the Coop VAENI who work with more than 200 growers, at the same time the average vineyard size is less than one ha per member.
Although some of the winemakers are not fluent in the English language, they all were up to the task of interacting and providing insight that only they can offer. The sweetest effort actually came from one of the female winemakers who wanted to engage the person who drove us to San Jose and addressed him with “Mr. Driver” :)
The following wines were shown:
VAENI Naoussa 2007
VAENI Damaskinos 2006
VAENI Grand Reserve 2004
Boutari Grand Reserve 2004
Boutari Naoussa 2007
Kir Yianni Ramnista 2009
Tsantali Grand Reserve 2007
Disclosure: The initiative is co-financed by the EU and Greece and I consulted on this occasion, planning, organizing and executing the three events. Many thanks go out to my Californian partner WineWise, who went out of their way to help me putting this together.