by Markus Stolz

decades of Boutari

byMarkus Stolz
May 31, 2011, 0 Comments

The stunning series of wine tasting events hosted by the WSPC continued last week. The latest event was a particular treat, as the well known Boutari Group showcased Xinomavro wines covering five decades. The wines were presented by Konstantinos Lazarakis MW, Konstantinos Boutaris (President), Yiannis Voyatzis (the chief oenologist who has been with Boutari for 26 years) and Marina Boutaris (daughter of Konstantinos and head of marketing). The event took place at the InterContinental Hotel in Athens and was sold out. According to Konstantinos Lazarakis, the waiting list was as long as the confirmed guest list. In addition to the public, they were a large number of Greek wine journalists present.

Following are my personal tasting notes:

2007 Terroir 2, 13.5% alcohol: Deep blackberry colour with purple tinges. Quite open aromas of crushed red fruit, slight barnyard action in the background, also honey. Medium bodied with a fistful of tannins. This has good acidity, lots of raspberries and red fruit coming through. The finish is silky and offers good length. 16+ (delivers)

2007 Terroir 1, 13.8% alcohol: Fairly deep black cherry colour with hints of blue. Very different aromas than the Terroir 1, this seems more forthcoming and dark, it has more vegetal aromas, mushrooms and truffles come through. Medium+ bodied with a dense tannin structure and a matching acidity. This is masculine in style, it is particular strong on the mid-palate; the long finish returns the dark fruit. 17+ (excites)

2007 Epilegmeno, 13.7 % alcohol: Lighter coloured than the previous two wines, a medium deep raspberry. The nose is more reserved, but elegant and stylish. It has aromas of crushed berries and hints of flowers, almost delicate. Medium bodied, with soft and integrated tannins, a fairly high acidity. There are lots of raspberry flavours in here, also some dark chocolate. It is well structured and has a good length, and certainly shows the most fruit on the backend. 17+ (refined)

It was quite fascinating to taste these wines, as all came from the successful 2007 vintage, from different plots located in Naoussa. They were all remarkable different in terms of style, which is why I indicated my key term for each wine behind the score. The wines are currently experimental, which means that Boutari has been working on the nuances for a number of years. They will at some point in time decide if and when to release them as a regular bottling. Until then, the wines can be purchased only at the winery, in a three-pack containing one bottle of each. The price before VAT is 7,50€ per bottle, which I find to be stunning value. I sure hope that more than one label will be released. I have few doubts that this quality will improve Boutari’s reputation.

2003, 13% alcohol: Light to medium raspberry colour with orange tinges. Aromas of tomatoes, also barnyard, quite vegetal, red fruits linger right behind. On the palate, the wine is light to medium bodied, with soft tannins and decent acidity. There is some lovely raspberry fruit on the back-end, a very soft wine. 16

2001, 12.3% alcohol: A touch deeper coloured than the 2003, the rim has a little more maturity. This exhibits dark aromas of mushrooms, tealeaves, tomatoes, much more vegetal. Very lively on the palate, the tannins are still very present, mouth-filling with a balanced combination of fruit and vegetal character. The finish is very long – I like this a lot, shows extremely well. 18

For me, the 2001 showed much more complexity and staying power in comparison to the 2003.

1994, 13.5% alcohol: Medium deep red cherry colour with brown tinges. Forthcoming aromas of raspberries and jam mixed with a nice earthiness, quite an elegant nose. The wine immediately impresses on the palate with its extremely concentrated fruit, explosive raspberries. The tannins still have a good kick; the acidity is superb; this wine delivers throughout. The finish is phenomenal, extremely long, and the fruit keeps jumping right back. 19

1993, 13.2% alcohol: Bright medium deep red cherry colour with much less matured rim. More closed on the nose, but with pure and concentrated fruit. The tannins are still present on the palate, there is lively acidity, sweet fruits like stewed prunes; it finishes well. Tough luck that this was served right after the stunning 1994, as it is a lovely wine. 16+

1992, 12.8 % alcohol: Medium raspberry colour, the rim just lightens up. In comparison to the 1993, this is more earthy and vegetal on the nose, also has slightly burned aromas. Light bodied on the palate, with a beautiful integrated tannin structure, high acidity, and concentrated fruit, also a solid finish. 17
It was amazing to taste just how fresh and vibrant these wines were. I think they drink perfect right now, as they bring it all to the table. The 1994 was the star of the night.

1990, 12.3% alcohol: Light raspberry colour with brown tinges. This has quite intense aromas of tomato juice (think Bloody Mary). Light to medium bodied, the vegetal character is there first, the fruit takes hold on the mid palate. The finish is rather short though, the wine seems to disappear right after the mid palate. 14

1987 Grande Reserve, 11.7% alcohol: Light garnet colour with brown tinges. Aromas of herbs, tomato and tealeaves. The wine is very herbaceous on the palate, with soft tannins and good acidity. This actually gains strength after the mid palate, the opposite of the 1990. It is very much alive and finishes well. 16

These two wines might have seen their best days, although the 1987 still shows well. It would be interesting to know how they were 5 years ago.

1974, 12% alcohol: Light garnet colour with an orange rim – but I would have not guessed its age, the colour seems actually less mature than the 1990. This has very soft aromas of plums, tealeaves and roasted peppers, also a distinct earthiness. On the palate, it is medium bodied, elegant and very much alive. Layers of fruit come through, and there is a sweet spot on the finish. It shows a balanced combination of concentrated fruits, tannins and acidity, very impressive.

1969, 12.3 % alcohol: Light garnet colour with a brown rim. It exhibits very earthy aromas with pronounced barnyard elements. On the palate this shows a soft structure; then a huge malt component comes into play, also some red fruit in the background. This is one of the most expressive wines of the night, and I prefer this to the 1974, there is more depth and complexity present. A “rebel at heart” wine!

The last two wines just showed that high quality Xinomavro can age for many decades. They were complex, still showed a remarkable freshness, and were simply stimulating all tasting senses. I refrain from indicating scores, as these wines are clearly in a league of their own. No point system can mirror this. The wines were a treat, period.

Boutari is a huge company and takes a lot of heat from others who criticise them for making and selling “mass-produced” wines without real soul. While I agree that some of their wines should receive an “internal review”, the wines that were presented at this event shows that they are more than capable of crafting wines that can be stunning. In addition, the experimental wines suggest that some stellar quality has yet to enter the marketplace. I feel that Boutari deserves real respect for this.

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