Xinomavro is a favourite of mine and last week I had the pleasure to spend a few days in its homeland in northern Greece.
We begun our trip with a visit to Alpha Estate in Amyntaio, about two hours drive west of the city of Thessaloniki. I have spent many nights in London enjoying Xinomavros from Alpha Estate so I was really looking forward to visiting this place.
We started off with a brief tour of the ultra modern winemaking facilities and the impressive cellar before sampling some of their wines. This is Xinomavro country and their Alpha Reserve Vieilles Vignes (old vines) made with 100% Xinomavro is for me the star of the show. We were also presented with the Alpha Axia Red a 50% Xinomavro 50% Syrah blend which makes it a bit more familiar and approachable to the international consumer.
In terms of their whites, I had read allot of good things about their Sauvignon Blanc (not least by Jancis Robinson in her FT column) and it certainly did not disappoint. Great balance of fruit and acidity, in terms of style closer to Sancerre than New Zealand.
The second white that we tasted was the 2015 Alpha Malagousia Single Vineyard Turtles which was only bottled a couple of months ago. Malagousia is an indigenous Greek grape variety that was saved from extinction due to the efforts of winemaker Vangelis Gerovassiliou (from Domaine Gerovassiliou in Epanomi, Thessaloniki). Intense floral aromas and flavours of melon and peach make the Alpha Estate version a great example.
The following day we visited two family run wineries in the nearby Naoussa region which is the official PDO of Xinomavro.
Dalamara is a small winery producing a range of organic wines. The Dalamara family has a history of wine making and distillation going all the way back to 1840. Kostis Dalamaras, who took over in 2010 showed us around the winery which included a lounge area with an impressive display of antique vineyard and cellar equipment.
We sampled their flagship Paliokalias, an organically produced 100% Xinomavro named after the vineyard area located on the eastern foothills of mount Vermion. This wine is not as smooth as the Alpha Xinomavro Reserve Vieilles Vignes but nevertheless showcases the rich characteristics of the grape with great intensity and depth of flavour.
Dalamaras also produces a Xinomavro, Merlot blend called Aghechoros (80% Xinomavro, 20% Merlot) which is smoother and more friendly to the palate.
A 10 minutes drive away in the village of Stranza we made our final visit of the day at Foundi Estate. This is another small family winery located in the Naoussa region producing Xinomavro PDO wines.
The Foundi family strongly believe in ageing their wines before release and their signature Ktima Foundi Xinomavro 2007 was only released a few months ago. This is a very impressive Xinomavro and at €11.50 extremely good value. If you find it buy it as there won’t be many left!
We drove back to Thessaloniki that evening with the boot of the car filled with as many cases of wine as we could fit.
I cannot help but thinking that at some point the price of Greek wine, especially Xinomavros will significantly increase as the world begins to appreciate the beauty and complexity of this noble Greek grape variety.
I hope this moment does not come too soon though….
Details of wineries visited:
tel. +30 23320 28321
Stranza, Naoussa 59200
tel. +30 23320 48255
The Wine Diaries are written by an amateur wine enthusiast with a passion for Greek wine. Born in Greece, lives in London.
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