by Markus Stolz

Tradition
and soul

byMarkus Stolz
July 5, 2011, 7 Comments

Xinomavro wines from Naoussa took on the Big Apple last Thursday and they certainly left their mark. In a remarkable event at Bar Boulud, a total of 13 wines were presented to importers and food/wine writers. I was consulting on the occasion and was more than happy to be there in person, together with the president and the councillor of the VAENI Coop, the winemakers/representatives of the Dalamara, Diamantakos, Elinos (I like their name big time ;) and Kastaniotis wineries, as well as the representative of NovaCert, who co-ordinated the event. I guess I should also mention here that the campaign was co-financed by the EU and Greece.

What stood out was the sheer diversity of the wines. This was a very true representation of the Naoussa wineries – no cherry picking of the best offerings took place, this was as raw as it gets. Included were many small growers with vineyard holdings of between 4 and 10 hectares, all the way up to the Coop with its 220 members who cultivate 200 hectares. All styles were represented, from the traditional “rustic” approach to the modern way of extracting more fruit and colour while taming the tannins. There were wines that were immensely powerful, yet others that were marked by pure elegance. In addition, it was fascinating to see how the wines start to evolve after a few years. The difference between the newly released 2008’s and the slightly more mature 06 or 07 vintages was remarkable. In this respect the event was highly educational. After the tasting, the wines got there chance to really show what they were made for – to be paired and enjoyed with food. A four course dinner was served, and the wines were now flowing freely. It was quite fascinating to have such an arsenal of Xinomavro wines at hand.

Michael Madrigale, the rising star Sommelier, captured the essence of Xinomavro perfectly in a short speech he gave just before dinner:

“I love Greek wine, I visited there two years ago. I did not get to go to Naoussa, but visited the Peloponnese and Santorini. But I did get to taste a lot of Xinomavro while I was there.

For me, these wines really have something to say. That is the most important part of wine for me. They have been making wine here (in Naoussa)  since the time of Aristotle and Alexander the Great. Yet no one really knows about them, which is amazing. I feel that all the work has already been done. These are thousand years old vine areas. It’s not like a banker who made a ton of money, buying flatland that used to be a desert, irrigating it and putting in clones to get that $9.99 price point on the shelf.

There are more wise traditions and soul and I feel, as someone who buys wine and creates wine lists, provides wine experiences for guests, it is my duty to highlight wines like these. It is in my best interest that they (the winemakers) keep going and keep making wines, keep doing what they are doing. That they don’t bend over in order to do what the market wants, or to change how the market changes. That is why I feel that these wines are special.

I run Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud and will be putting lots of Xinomavros on those wine lists. Because they fit very well with the food here at Bar Boulud, but they fit even better at Boulud Sud, because it’s all Mediterranean food. I compile a very large list of Greek wines. I even reached out to a couple of growers to ask them if they have older vintages. I really want to have a wine list that highlights these wines that is not a Greek restaurant. That’s where I feel you will get the most exposure – in restaurants that are not just Greek. Like I said, it is my duty and I am happy to do that. Thanks you all the growers for making those wines!”

The list of wines that were shown:

VAENI Naoussa 2006

VAENI Damaskinos 2005

Dalamara Paliokalas 2008 (Kostis Dalamara also had the 2005 and 2002 with him)

Chrisohoou Naoussa 2007

Elinos Naoussa 2007

Foundi Naoussa 2006

Kelesidis Merhali 2006

Diamantakou Naoussa 2006

Kastaniotis Naoussa 2008

Melitzanis Naoussa 2008

Tsantali Naoussa Reserve 2006

Boutari Grand Reserve 2004

Kir Yianni Ramnista 2008

Please also read this related post by my dear friend Viviane Bauquet Farre, a great read!

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  1. Yiannis PapadakisJuly 6, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Markus, you are kind of coaching Greek winemakers to help them achieve higher status in the world wine scene. I wish you will become to Greek wine what Otto Rehagel was to Greek football. All the best.

  2. elloinosJuly 6, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Yianni, thank you so much for your very kind comment. I simply take every opportunity to keep the good momentum going. And I truly believe that the Greek winemakers deserve a much higher status in the world wine scene.

  3. Friedrich BolleJuly 7, 2011, 1:08 am

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch,

    wann werden Sie zum Greek Wine Ambassador ernannt :-) ??

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen

    Friedrich Bolle

  4. elloinosJuly 7, 2011, 1:18 am

    Hallo Herr Bolle, danke für das feedback, soweit ich informiert bin sind diese Rollen bereits verteilt…

  5. MarcJuly 8, 2011, 12:22 am

    Wonderful to read your report on that now near-mythical tasting at Bar Boulud. Extremely informative, and quietly passionate, at the same time. Bravo, Herr Stolz!

  6. elloinosJuly 8, 2011, 12:29 am

    :) I really appreciate the wording “quietly passionate” – thank you so much!