by Markus Stolz


byMarkus Stolz
January 27, 2010, 8 Comments

Most wine lovers enjoy buying extraordinary wines and cellaring them for long periods of time. The pleasure to try the wines during different stages of maturity is not only very educational, but also extremely rewarding for pure pleasure. In Greece, this is not the common thing to do; most wines are consumed shortly after their release. The current 2007 vintage for Xinomavro is in my opinion outstanding – and begs to be cellared for many years, if not decades, to come.  I had the opportunity to taste many samples a couple of days ago, and I am deeply impressed with the terrific quality.

The annual Voroina wine exhibition took place in the heart of Athens, where the wineries of Northern Greece showed their current vintages. Last year I went in the evening, and the event was so well visited that I had a hard time evaluating the wines. This year, I was able to visit at noon, when the Voroina was only open to wine professionals. Having said that, after an hour the exhibition was again very well attended.

I focused mainly on tasting wines from producers that I was not that familiar with, as I have tasted many wines from the well known producers like Pavlidis, Wine Art Estate, Gerovassiliou, Kir Yiannis, Alpha Estate, Biblia Chora or Katsaros over the last view months.

My personal highlight of the day was the Xinomavro 2007 from Argatia, a small producer from Rodochori, Naoussa. The wine is very complex with an incredible concentration.

The Goumenissa 2007 from the Aidarinis Winery is made from 30-year old vines and is a blend of 70% Xinomavro and 30% Negoska. It is very elegant in style, but has a real bite to it.

Another small producer from Goumenissa is the Tatsis Estate. Their 2007 Goumenissa showed earthy and vegetal characteristics with firm tannins.

The new Elinos Estate in Naoussa (I do like their name :) impressed me with their Naoussa Xinomavro 2007, full bodied, yet elegant.

For white wines, highlights included a 2009 Malagousia from Claudia Papayianni, with explosive exotic fruit aromas, and an elegant cool-climate style 2009 Gewurztraminer from Dio Fili.

I will certainly stock up my own cellar with multiple cases of the Xinomavro 2007 vintage (NOT limited to the above mentioned wines), and can only recommend to anyone to keep an eye out for these wines.

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  1. ChristinaJanuary 28, 2010, 11:58 am

    I agree, some of the Xinomavro wines were excellent.
    And in order to take full “advantage” of your knowledge :-), apart from the ones you mention, what others do you suggest that we look for??
    I was also impressed by some wines made from foreign grapes (even though I think that you are more in favour of Greek grapes in Greece, correct?)

  2. elloinosJanuary 28, 2010, 12:19 pm

    Christina, thanks so much for your feedback. I am glad you agree on the quality of the Xinomavro 07 vintage. Other personal favorite Xinomavro producers include the Alpha Estate, Dalamara, Karadimou, Karyda, Kir Yianni and Thimiopoulos. On my watchlist is Xatzivaritis’ Goumenissa. In regards to international grape varieties, many Greek wineries are doing excellent work. For example, Arvantidi is notching up qualities every year, Alpha Estate is also doing excellent work, Pavlidis is yielding great results…the list could go on. I have pointed out several times over the last months that some Syrah wines are of top notch quality and will very likely leave their mark in the export markets. The one thing I love is the level of experimentation taking place to combine some local with international varieties. Not everything will work, but sometimes it leads to stunning results. At the same time, I am a huge fan of Greek varieties, to me they expand the wine lovers palate.

  3. ChristinaJanuary 28, 2010, 12:46 pm

    Thank you Markus! I’ll keep everything in mind next time I go “wine hunting”.
    I would add Ktima Texni Oinou (Wine Art Estate) from Drama in your list of wineries that produce excellent wines from foreign varieties, their Chardonnay (08) and Nebbiolo (03) are very promising (again of course, my personal opinion).

  4. Yiannis PapadakisJanuary 28, 2010, 4:30 pm

    I was so glad to see Xinomavro being under the spotlight in this year’s Vorina exhibition. This shows that the wineries of Northern Greece are entering a maturity stage understanding that their region’s flagship wine varieties should be in the center of attention, instead of the international ones they used to focus on in the past. Most wineries from Naoussa, Amyndeon or Goumenissa, had the relative Appelation of Origin wine as their flagship wine instead of a wine made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or a blend of those varieties with xinomavro. This situation is similar to what happens in glamourous regions like Italy’s Piemonte (Piedmont), where the best and most prestigeous wineries may produce various wines, using sometimes international grape varieties, but their flagship wine is their Barolo and/or Barbaresco (well there is an exception but I will not discuss it here…).
    Concerning the highlights (excluding the ones already mentioned in my comment on Oinotelia):
    – Boutari’s experimental Xinomavros 2007(labeled epilegmeno, terroir I, terroir II and terroir III), besides being excellent wines (perticularly terroir I and III), showed clearly the impact of terroir on the character of this wine
    – Aidarinis Goumenissa Single Vineyard 2007, a wine setting new quality standards for this appelation
    – Hatzivaritis Goumenissa
    – Katsaros Red 2006, one of the best vinatges of this Bordeaux-like blend.
    Unfortunately, most other international varietal wines were inexciting.
    Some xinomavros (including Argatia) were extremely aggressive, ovely tannic and tart.
    Finally, many important producers like Karydas and Thimiopoulos were not exhibiting.

  5. elloinosJanuary 28, 2010, 6:15 pm

    Yianni, thank you for sharing your own thoughts on the wines shown at the Voroina, it is great to receive your feedback! I believe the best is yet to come from the wineries of Northern Greece. As you know, I am a big believer in Xinomavro myself. In regards to overly tannic and agressive wines, only time will tell. I personally loved the immense concentration in some of the wines and can’t wait to retaste them in a few years time. The Argatia in particular is nearly unfair to show at such young age from such a fantastic vintage. I think it has tremendous potential. However, I might of course be completely off. I also thought it was a shame that some top producers did not exhibit.

  6. Kostas KatsoulierisJanuary 30, 2010, 12:50 am

    Nice report Markus! Personal highlights for me were the Argatia Xinomavro, Single Vineyard Goumenissa from Aidarinis, Claudia Papayianni’s Malagouzia (one of the few expressions of the varietal where both nose and palate were explosive rather than just the nose) as well as her red blend (another version of Dyo Elies and Alpha Estate Red), an out of this world Sauvignon Blanc from Hatzigeorgiou, the Pine’s Tear from Kechris (I love modern takes on retsina), the Ovilos Red from Biblia Chora and Katsaros’s Chardonnay. As Yianni said in another comment, we all have our own tastes… As for Karyda and Thimiopoulos they did not attend I understand as they are not part of the Wine Roads of Northern Greece / Union of Northern Greek Winemakers. A shame as I have yet to try the Karyda Naoussa and having just enjoyed a bottle of 2006 Ghi kai Ouranos, I can’t wait to try the 2007…

  7. elloinosJanuary 30, 2010, 10:38 am

    Kosta, thank you for adding your impressions, they complete the picture. I missed the Hatzigeorgiou Sauvignon Blanc, but will certainly be on the lookout. The Kechris modern style Retsina wines were indeed very interesting, great way to broaden your palate. I believe that quite a few of the 07 Xinomavros will hit the wine shops next week…

  8. maRiosFebruary 24, 2014, 5:53 pm

    Indeed, xinomavro demonstrates great potentials!
    Boutari’s “Naoussa” has won a position on the Wine Spectator “Top 100 Wines” list for 2013!