by Markus Stolz


byMarkus Stolz
June 21, 2010, 14 Comments

Xinomavro is arguably the most age-worthy Greek red varietal and it can be a treat to taste older vintages. The “Oinosoagapitos” put together a tasting event of mature Xinomavro wines, where participants could either pay a fee, or bring along selected bottles from their own cellars. This was a great idea, and the vintages served went back to 1992. Half the wines were from Boutari and Kir Yianni – this did not come as a surprise, as both estates are very well known, and also produce Xinomavros in descent quantities. I would have liked to see wines from more producers included, but many estates have a relative small annual production to start with. It is therefore not easy to find large selections of mature bottles even in Greece.

What surprised me was that the majority of the bottles were the basic wines from the relevant estates. If the basic wines are capable of ageing so gracefully, a lot more complexity should be expected from the premium wines. What scares me is that the quality of the Xinomavros has shot through the roof over the last few years. The best wines from recent vintages have a tremendous potential to reward anyone who has the time and patience to cellar them for a long time. In 10 years time, people won’t believe just how well these wines delivered.

I would like to thank Dimitris Hatzinikolaou and Yiannis Liberopoulos who organised this evening and also led the tasting. It was a fascinating evening, well done!

For more background information on Xinomavro, please read this article at Palate Press.

I indicate below if the wine was the basic or premium product of the estate.

1992 Boutari, Xinomavro (basic)
Fully mature colour with ruby rim. Very open on the nose and quite fruit driven, lots of raspberry and vegetal aromas. If such a thing like “tomato jam” would exist, it surely would smell similar! There were also hints of chocolate and cinnamon. The wine was smooth yet full on the palate and the tannins still had a bite left. I found it to be dried out towards the finish, a bit thin with a bitter note. The nose was great, the palate disappointing. I need to note that this wine received the most votes of the night, so my palate was not in line with the crowd on this particular wine. 14/20

1993 Boutari, Xinomavro (basic)
Again a fully matured colour, but a touch darker in the middle. The nose was much more vegetal than the 1992, with a low primary fruit level. The aromas were dominated by tealeaves and very ripe tomatoes; also a touch of barnyard, with fruits lingering in the background. I liked this nose a lot. The wine was much more lively on the palate with lots of depths and elegance; the mid-palate dominated by ripe and fresh raspberries flavours. The finish was very long, and the fruit crept back up in the aftertaste. A lovely experience! 17+/20

1996 Fountis, Naoussa (basic)
Medium deep cherry colour with a ruby rim. The wine was a bit closed at first, but after a minute it opened up. The aromas reminded me of stewed prunes, there was certainly some sweetness in it. In addition this had a toasted smell, which added an interesting twist to the nose. On the palate the wine was full-bodied with a good level of acidity. The tannins were very smooth, but still there. The finish was a bit short and slightly dried out. The wine really delivered right up to the mid-palate; then it quickly disappeared. 15/20

1996 Fountis, Ktima (premium)
Lighter in colour than the basic wine of the same estate, fully mature with an orange rim. The nose was more refined and elegant – red fruits, dark chocolate and coffee. The wine was full-bodied; but as the fruit just started to kick in, it became totally overpowered by the harsh tannins. Sorry, this one won’t be coming around – the tannins have a license to kill. 13+

1997 Kir Yianni, Ramnista (basic)
Gorgeous medium deep garnet with a slightly mature rim. The nose had a surprisingly high level of primary fruit, lots of raspberry flavours, very elegant and teasing. The palate was packed with fresh fruits, the acidity was perfect and the tannins were very smooth and fully integrated. It was mouth-filling; yet not heavy at all, with a long and ever so smooth finish. This is aged Xinomavro at its best, pure elegance in a glass. It is perfect to drink now, but will keep for some years to come. 18/20

2000 Boutari Grande Reserve (premium)
Medium deep bright cherry with only a touch of maturity on the rim. The nose combined vegetal aromas, tomatoes, roasted nuts and caramel, a very interesting combination. On the palate the wine was elegant, raspberries dominated the mid-palate, and the tannins were soft and nicely integrated, the good acidity level lent freshness. There is no rush to drink this wine up, although it might be at the start of its peak. If you look for a soft wine that embodies elegance, this is for you. It could do with a just tiny little bit more bite. 17/20

2000 Kir Yianni, Ramnista (basic)
Light to medium garnet with matured orange rim. The nose was full of vegetal aromas, but also tealeaves and raspberries came through. The wine was round and full on the palate, slightly sweet with a good level of fruit. The tannins were still fairly strong. The mid-palate really was the highlight, very rewarding indeed. The finish was solid, but not as pronounced as the 1997. 16+/20

2005 Vaeni Co-op (basic)
Medium deep strawberry colour, just lightening up on the rim. The nose exhibited a very typical “Beaujolais Noveau” style, which is extremely untypical for a Xinomavro. Lots of cherry aromas, quite fruit driven without any hints of vegetal characteristics. It was similar to a “light” version of a Xinomavro wine. The palate was fairly light with little complexity, but a very nice fresh and fruity wine. I never thought I would ever write this about Xinomavro, but this particular wine was a fresh and easy drinking quaffing wine that was well made. Think about basic Beaujolais that manages to keep its freshness for quite a few years. 15/20

2000 Tsantali, Rapsani Epilegmenos (basic)
Note: OPAP Rapsani wines consist of equal parts of Xinomavro, Krassato and Savroto.
Very deep purple, no maturity at all. The nose was very interesting and combined dark fruits with herbs and roasted nuts. On the palate, the wine was full-bodied, with flavours of cherries, raspberries and chocolate. It was very smooth and fresh, a vibrant wine that lacked possibly some depth, but was drinking rather well.  16/20

2007 Chatzivaritis, Goumenissa (premium)
Note: Under OPAP Goumenissa rules, Negoska must be at least 20% of the blend with Xinomavro.
Medium deep cherry. Aromas of roasted nuts and cherries, also exhibited a nice earthiness, quite concentrated. Full and round on the palate, with raspberries and almond flavours. It became bigger from the start to the finish, the tannins were present, but were already nicely integrated. The style was certainly quite modern. 15+/20

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  1. Christina KroJune 21, 2010, 5:32 pm

    My personal choice of the evening was the 2000 Boutari Grand Reserve. I’m glad you liked it too! :-))

  2. Yiannis PapadakisJune 22, 2010, 4:44 pm

    Markus, I have 2 comments regarding the above aged xinomavros tasting (which I did not attend).
    First, this is the first time I read formal tasting notes from you, and I am impressed by your capability as a taster and a tasting notes’ writer. Please continue to review wines on Elloinos in a regular basis- it would be nice to create a data base with reviewed wines.
    Second, concerning the basic vs. premium wine indication: Ramnista is not the basic, but the ONLY 100% xinomavro from Kir-Yianni. There was another wine labeled simply “Xinomavro” that was slightly more expensive than Ramnista but was released in 1 or 2 vintages (one was 2000, from which I had a couple of bottles until recently). All the rest are blends of xinomavro with other, mainly international varieties, including the estate’s flagship wine Diaporos which was first released as of the 2005 vintage and includes a small (claimed) amount of syrah.
    The Boutari “xinomavro” or more recently “xinomavro reserve” label, which appears on the photo, is placed between the estate’s basic “Naoussa” and the premium “Naoussa Reserve” cuvees so it is neither the basic nor the premium cuvee.

  3. elloinosJune 22, 2010, 5:02 pm

    Yianni, I always enjoy your comments a lot, as you do offer additional insight on a regular basis. Thank you for your kind compliment, although I feel that formal tasting notes should only be published via elloinos when it fits the occassion, but thank you for your feedback.

    You are indeed correct to point out that the Ramnista is not technically the basic wine of Kir Yiannis. As this site is read on an international level, I felt that I should label it “basic”, as it is one of the lower priced wines of the estate, certainly in the export markets.

    Finally, thank you also for your comment in regards to the Xinomavro/Xinomavro Reserve wine. I appreciate your effort, and really like that you keep an eye on my writing. I try my best, but am glad to have people like you that are there to help me! Cheers!

  4. Kostas KatsoulierisJune 23, 2010, 7:26 am

    Markus, sounds like a fantastic tasting. And as for the 1997 Ramnista that was the wine that seduced me and showed me the majesty and potential of xinomavro – a wine which till then I did not like as I had found it too harsh and acidic. As they say, wine always has the last word and xinomavro in general should only improve from now on. As for tasting notes I believe you did do some in the past and I agree with Yianni that you should include more on this blog along with possibly food matches. Keep up the great work!

  5. elloinosJune 23, 2010, 10:53 am

    Kosta, I agree with you, the 1997 Ramnista really is a great example of what Xinomavro can do, without a doubt the wine of the night for me. I will keep both your and Yianni’s recommendations on more tasting notes in mind. I just don’t want to bore anyone with them ;)

  6. Christina KroJune 23, 2010, 1:19 pm

    Believe me Markus, no one will get bored from reading your tasting notes and reviews!!

  7. elloinosJune 23, 2010, 1:22 pm

    Christina, thank you for the encouragement!

  8. Yiannis PapadakisJune 23, 2010, 5:08 pm

    Markus, thanks for your comments. I would like to add a correction to my own comment: the premium Xinomavro from Boutari is labeled “Naoussa Grande Reserve” (not “Naoussa Reserve” as I wrote) and -as you wrote- was tasted during the session from the 2000 vintage. It is to my opinion a very interesting wine in the sense that being an extremely polished version of xinomavro without betraying neither the varietal nor the regional (Naoussa) typicity, it can make this “difficult” grape widely approachable and popular.
    On the other extreme are the wines of Chateau Pegasus (not easily available anymore) that are barely approachable only after 10+ years from the vintage but extremely long-lived, analogous in this way to the Brunellos of Biondi-Santi. I think it is worth seeking old bottlings of this cuvee (if you haven’t already done so).

  9. elloinosJune 23, 2010, 5:16 pm

    Yianni, thank you for the additional comments – now I just need someone to point out to me where I can obtain some older vintages of Pegasus ;)

  10. Yiannis PapadakisJune 23, 2010, 6:49 pm

    Once I spot some bottles, I will keep you informed…

  11. Viviane Bauquet Farre / Food & StyleJune 25, 2010, 6:31 pm

    Markus, this is a fantastic article. Thank you! I so wished I’d been there to taste all this great wines… but the next best thing is for me to keep learning from you and to try to find wonderful Greek wines in the US. I’ll print your article – I’m starting to build a Greek wine folder! My biggest challenge though, (even bigger than finding the wines in the US) is Greek spelling!

  12. elloinosJune 25, 2010, 6:46 pm

    Viviane, this is such a great compliment – you starting to build up a Greek wine folder! Things like this make all the effort so much worth it. As for Greek spelling, an easy way to start learning a little Greek is :)

  13. […] A magnum of the great Ramnista 1998 costs 50 Euros + VAT, we are talking about some of the finest Xinomavro wines of the country! I for one know what I will be putting in my cellar. Imagine what prices you […]

  1. […] A magnum of the great Ramnista 1998 costs 50 Euros + VAT, we are talking about some of the finest Xinomavro wines of the country! I for one know what I will be putting in my cellar. Imagine what prices you […]