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Tag: Greece

Wine of the Week

Rosé is the colour of summer

Summer is coming, and we want a fresh rosé. Apostolos Thymiopoulos can offer this. Though it’s not what you maybe would expect at this time of year: Here is an oak-matured rosé with some backbone.

Apostolos was the first to vinify the family vineyards, in 2005. He believes in sustainable viticulture and minimum intervention during the whole winemaking process. With this philosophy Apostolos produces ten different expressions of xinomavro, to express every aspect of its potential.

We are in the Naoussa appellation of Macedonia, northern Greece. The Thymiopoulos winery is located in Trilofos, a village at the foot of the Vermio mountain. The parcels for this wine are non-irrigated, young vines of xinomavro, around the village of Fytia at 450-650 metres. The soils are schist and granite.

The Naoussa region has a warm continental climate, tempered by the cooling winds coming either from Vermio mountain or from the sea.

Lower temperatures due to high altitude, and big differences in temperatures during ripening season give freshness to the wines.

The grapes were hand-picked, destemmed, macerated for 12 hours, and fermentated with wild yeasts in stainless-steel tanks for 5 to 6 months. Then followed a 4 months maturation in 500-litre, second-use oak barrels.

Rosé de Xinomavro 2020 (Thymiopoulos)

Light red. Aroma of strawberry, currant, rosehip and herbs (thyme). Juicy and rounded, with some backbone, and also a nice acidity.

Price: Medium/low

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Wine of the Week

Xinomavro excels

The wines of Greece have come a long way from the tourist spots’ retsina or the reds of the whitewashed tavernas in western Europe. Enter Apostolos Thymiopoulos, presenting this week’s wine Xinomavro Young Vines!

His contribution here is a red from the grape xinomavro (pronounced ks-) raised in the Naoussa appellation of Macedonia.

Nils-Are Økland, my colleague in Vinforum, put it this way in an article from 2019: “The rich ancient literature in Greece testifies to the importance of wine in early European culture. (…) Both Plato, Aristophanes and Hippocrates discuss the joys and challenges of wine in their writings. (…) Vines were also important in Greek cultural export and the colonization of Sicily and the coastal areas of southern Italy. In light of this proud history, it is striking how petty Greek wine industry has been in modern times. (…) But there are many indications now that Greek wine will have its well-deserved renaissance.”

Winemaker Apostolos Thymiopoulos is based in Trilofos, in the Naoussa region, one and a half hours south of Thessaloniki in northern Greece. Overlooking both the Aegean Sea and the Olymp he works organically and biodynamically in both own and contracted vineyards. He is maybe at his best with high-altitude xynomavro grapes. This week’s wine comes from vineyards at 400 and 600 meters above sea level, maybe not impressive, but higher than normal in Naoussa. This, together with a poor soil with schist, granite and limestone also contributes to a fresh fruit. Wild yeasts are used, and it’s aged 8 months in concrete.

Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes 2020 (Thymiopoulos)

Ruby red. Red fruits (raspberry), herbs and a stony minerality. Textured, yet juicy, with nice acidity and a mineral finish.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Thymiopoulos improves with thyme

The Thymiopoulos family has a long history in agriculture and grape-growing in Trilofos, under the Vermio mountain south of Thessaloniki. Apostolos Thymiopoulos was however the first to vinify the family vineyards, and he produced his first wine in 2005.

Apostolos Thyiopoulos (credit: the winery)

Thymiopoulos practises organic viticulture and believes in minimum intervention during the whole process. Various biodynamic practices are also used, thus being able to preserve biodiversity. The wild flowers stimulates both over- and underground fauna, thus strenghtening the soils and with it, the vines.

He concentrates exclusively on xinomavro, the emblematic variety of the Naoussa region. From this variety he makes at the moment ten different wines, from sparkling via rosé to reds. I have tasted five, and can recommend all of them. They are excellent value, such as the Young Vines 2019. Xinomavro gives naturally acid and tannic wines, well-suited for ageing. And Apostolos would also say it gives an ethereal quality.

Our selected wine, the Xinomavro Nature, has no additions of sulphur. It comes from a single vineyard planted 53 years ago, 200 meters high on a slope, at the edge of the village. The soil here is pure limestone. The climate is tempered by the winds from the Mediterranean and downhill from the mountain. So despite the low altitude the temperatures are also relatevely low. The 2019 vintage had 50% destemmed grapes, fermented with indigenous yeasts and was macerated for 30 days. It was matured for 6 months in 500-litre French oak barrels of second use.

Xinomavro Nature 2019 (Thymiopoulos)

Ruby red. At first quite discrete aroma of red berries and a touch of spices (cardemom, pepper), sightly warm. Much more open after three hours in the glass, and more aromatic herbs like thyme appear. Evident tannins, good acidity and long, mineral aftertaste.

Price: Low/Medium

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Wine of the Week

Greek ancestral sparkler

It’s not often that we present natural wines from this ancient country, but here is a good Greek pét-nat. It’s the Kioutsoukis family, originally from the coast of the Black Sea, that brought the knowledge about winemaking with them to Greece. Now, here in the modern world they completed their conversion to naturals in 2015.

The traditional use of herb sprays are used if necessary, but wine responsible Dmitri Kioutsoukis’ ideal is to use as few treatments as possible.

They own 10 hectares of vineyards in the hills of Mygdonia in Northern Greece, not far from Thessaloniki. They have a strong focus on Greek grape like assyrtiko, malagousia, roditis and xinomavro. In the low hillside an all-year northernly wind secures healthy vineyards. The soils vary from clay-sand to small stones and schist. This slightly off-dry (15 grams) ancestral style sparkler is made from xinomavro and the whites malagousia and assyrtiko.

Kamara Pure Pét’ Nat 2019 (Kamara Estate)

Blood orange colour, turbid and quite bubbly. Smell of red berries (raspberry/strawberry), lime, grapefruit and mango. Good acidity, slightly bitter finish that balances the residual sugar.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

We are going on a summer holiday…

Retsina may evoke memories of sunny days, white-washed walls and lots of meze. This may also be one of the wines that taste good on a summer holiday, but maybe not as appealing back home.

Ρετσίνα is a Greek resinated wine with more than 2000 years of history. In ancient times the wine vessels, particularly amphorae, were sealed with pine resin, that protected the wine against oxidation and gave it the unique resin-like flavour. With the times, after the introduction of glass bottles, it became a wanted taste, something that defined the style. Until one day when retsina found itself as little more than a souvenir.

But those days can soon be over. Here is a wine from organically grown grapes, modern in most ways, except the pine resin that is added to the must during fermentation. The grape is roditis, second or third in importance (after saveatiano). Today much less resin is needed. Some may miss that strong smell of “turpentine”, but for the most of us it’s now a modern wine with a strong character that is undoubtedly linked to the islands and mainland of Greece.

The Tetramythos winery is located on northern Peloponnese, near the mountain Aroania in Achaia. Here they have built a winery with wood and stone, and in harmony with the surroundings. It makes use of gravity and has all the modern equipment to make a panorama of wines, including that age-old traditional retsina style.

The grapes are all roditis spontaneously fermented in clay pots.

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Tetramythos Retsina 2015 (Tetramythos)

Golden yellow. Aromas of apples, citrus, herbs (rosemary, thyme) and an evident but discrete element of pine resin. Round, mellow with low acidity.

Price: Low

Food: Grilled seafood, squid, white fish, a variety of meze, and why not with garlic dips

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