If you know about Greek wine, you probably know about Xinomavro (meaning acid-black), one of the most promising varieties of Greece, thriving in the north of the country.
It’s the principal red wine grape in the mono-varietal appellations PDO Naoussa and PDO Amynteo, where it gives its deepest, most genuine character, while in Goumenissa and Rapsani it's blended with other indigenous varieties. With blue-black grapes, low yield and late harvest, it gives full bodied, earthy wines with high tannins and acidity and great aging potential. Xinomavro's color is often pale, but the taste is rich with aromas of red fruits, dried tomato, violet, olive tapenade and sometimes a tobacco and spicy note. But why did I call it “nobility”? Xinomavro is a very eclectic and demanding variety by all means. It shows high sensitivity to drought and diseases while its high acidity and strong tannin make vital the continuous attention of the producer in order to highlight Xinomavro's exceptional characteristics.
PDO Naoussa is one of the most promising appellations of Northern Greece. It consists of 700ha of vineyards which cover the hilly terrain of Naoussa and create a beautiful landscape of multiple micro-climates. This wine- making zone is divided in 5 different established sub-zones according to the different soil composition (25 have been identified). The diverse topography and terroir are reflected in the complexity of the wine, its full bodied character and high acidity.
On the other hand, in PDO Amynteo we find something a little different: It's the coldest wine making zone of Greece with low rainfall levels, and the vineyards are located at high altitudes, ranging from 600m to 750m. The soil is sandy or loamy and generally poor. The key factor here is the four lakes that encircle this area and offering to Xinomavro the water resources it needs. The result of these adverse conditions is a more elegant wine with high aromatic and fresh character for the variety. Another interesting thing about Amynteo is that it's the only appellation in Greece for rosé and sparkling wines from Xinomavro, so why not to taste the 2014 Kir-Yianni Akakies Sparkling, 100% Xinomavro of Amynteo.
I can keep writing paragraphs about Xinomavro while there are so many things to be said and discussed about this nobble variety. The fact is that when you taste Xinomavro, you will definitely love it, either if you are a wine professional or you just started exploring the wine world. Xinomavro is a gem of Greek wine with its own special character and particularities and even I'm writing while in Bordeaux with a glass of Vacqueyras in my hand (I wish it was Xinomavro right now), I think it's high time we stopped comparing Xinomavro with other better known European varieties such as Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir to show its greatness. Xinomavro it's a great variety on its own and has all the characteristics needed to be defined as one, next to the great grapes of the world.