First saw wine made at age 7, became a Master Gardner and now my favorite plant is Vitis vinifera. Published wine reviewer, teach wine appreciation at the local school district. And at my old age completed some WSET levels just because I love all things wine. I pour wine for various distributors, have worked with chefs pairing wine and food at corporate events and do private home parties too. Between events, I meet with winemakers in various states and countries.
“No thing more excellent nor more valuable
than wine was ever granted mankind by God”. --- Plato, Greek philosopher, (c. 427-347 BC)
Estate’s Xinomavro (the grape is Xinomavro), is from the Amyndeon (a PDO) region
in northern Greece. Grapes for this wine
are from a single vineyard (called “Hedgehog”) and grown on a plateau at elevation
of 690 meters (about 2264 ft) with a northwest exposure, and face both Petron Lake
and the Voras Mountain. Winters here are cold and the proximity of a body of
water moderates the continental climate. With poor soil of sand and clay, but
with excellent drainage, vines are water stressed. Berries are small with
intense red color and concentrated flavor. As is so often the rule, good wines come
from marginal areas.
is the predominant grape of northern Greece. Alpha Estates also makes a blended
wine using it along with 40% Syrah, but I wanted to try an unblended “Xino”. This is seriously good wine and an education for
anyone having an interest in indigenous grapes of the world.
the glass, its core is pale garnet falling to pale ruby with a thin iridescent rim
and producing tinted tears. Opened and
poured, the nose offers cranberry and red licorice in a glycerin mouthfeel of
tart cherry. My first thought was that this would be an interesting alternative
to Zinfandel with any BBQ. But more
interest is solicited from this wine with air over the course of just two
hours. Black plum, black cherry and raspberry become apparent with strong notes
of cola. Tannins are evident, but not
harsh despite the “Xino” grape having that characteristic. The mouthfeel
remained rich with strong notes of cherry cola, but the nose became more
complex adding aromas of chocolate plum and brambled forest berries. The finish
was long with notes of dark cocoa.
powerful wine made so by the grape itself, I was impressed at the restraint and
balance of tannin, acid and fruit in Alpha Estates’ Xinomavro. In fact, the name Xinomavro translates to “acid-black”.
But Alpha Estates‘ rendering of this grape into wine is a testament to the
winemaker’s art and craft. It’s a harmonious composition. Rather than BBQ and Zinfandel, I began
thinking of this wine as a Nebbiolo and, indeed, the tannins inherent In “Xino”
make it a wine suitable for aging, though it’s certainly enjoyable now. This is
classic food wine offering notes too of leather and clove once properly aired.
Or enjoy with some baked Greek cheese!
pumped and sealed overnight, fruit became more evident and the wine (though dry)
exhibited a deceptive sweetness of candied cherry. A wine of a “thousand faces”
(all enjoyable) from a country that has been making wine for thousands of
years. Don’t deny yourself this experience because you’re not Greek (neither am
I). So you won’t serve it with stuffed grape leaves. O.K., but stuffed peppers?
Why not? Try it with any BBQ or red
sauced pasta and eggplant; grilled red meats and sausages. In fact, the most fun could be trying a bottle
or two over a period of time to see for yourself how the wine develops. After all, Greece didn’t just develop
Democracy. They’ve been developing wine grapes for thousands of years.
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TECH SPECS AND GENERAL INFO:
Varietal: Xinomavro (Ksee no ma vro) 100%
Producer: Alpha Estate
Yield: 4200 kg grapes per hectare /
3,747 lbs per acre
Vinification: Sur lIes 8 months
Aging: 12 months French oak 50% new/50%
second year, light toast . 12 months additional in bottle.
Parker: 92 Points
ARP: About $20. (Found for $18
US: Diamond Importers
Chicago IL 60614
2nd Km Amyndeon - St.
PO 53200 AMYNDEON