Month: July 2022

Everything you should know about the winemaking region of Nemea

In ancient times, the core of Nemea’s wine region was known as “the Land of Phliasia,” and its wine was popular with an “international” audience who traveled to the ancient Nemean Games, one of the most important spectacles in Greek history. Phliasion wines became known as Agiorgitiko over time. Today, Nemea is Greece’s largest PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) wine production zone, and its lush grape cultivation demonstrates why Homer named it Ampelóessa, which means “full of vines.”

 

Terroir

Gaia Wines Vineyards in Nemea

Nemea has a unique terroir, which distinguishes it from the other winemaking regions in the Peloponnese, where it is located. The vineyards are mostly found in the highlands, as the zone’s altitude ranges from 90 meters to roughly 1000 meters. Warm days and chilly nights work together to produce very good raw material throughout the ripening phase, which lasts from August to September. Nemean soil is made up of clay, stone, gravel, and sand. The soil’s unique composition holds all of the required moisture and feeds it to the plants.

Varieties

For all those reasons mentioned above, combined with the extensive knowledge that winemakers in the region have, there are a lot of varieties grown in Nemea, both indigenous and international. Native Greek varieties include Asyrtiko, Malagousia, Kidonitsa, Malvasia, and Sklava.

“One variety, however, stands out the most and is the star of Nemea”

Kidonitsa is a unique and ancient Greek grape that was nearly extinct at one point. It was saved by several Peloponnese growers who recognized the grape’s exceptional potential to make aromatic white wines with a distinct character. Sklava is a rare and nearly extinct white-skinned grape variety grown in the eastern Peloponnese, particularly in Argolida, its birthplace, and Nemea. Sklava was traditionally blended with other grape varieties, but there are some examples of single-varietal Sklava wines made by producers attempting to revitalize the variety. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer are some of the international varieties grown in Nemea.

Plantings of Agiorgitiko in Koutsi with a view on Mount Megali Rachi

One variety, however, stands out the most and is the star of Nemea. This variety is none other than Agiorgitiko (pronounced “eye-your-yee-tee-ko”). Agiorgitiko cultivations currently span approximately 2.5 hectares in Nemea. The Nemea PDO, created in 1971, is only for dry or sweet red wines made entirely of this variety.

The importance of Agiorgitiko

“known as a “versatile” variety because of its capacity to create a wide range of wines”

This charismatic variety is one of the noblest varieties in Greek vineyards and one of the richest colored varieties that we can find in the country. Differences in altitude, microclimate, and soil composition create different “expressions” of the variety.

Plantings of Agiorgitiko

Agiorgitiko is known as a “versatile” variety because of its capacity to create a wide range of wines, from fresh and rosé to powerful aged and dessert sweet. Agiorgitiko has an exquisite and highly fruity taste. It has medium to high acidity, silky tannins, and a medium body.

Young wines of the style have an intense purple color with purple highlights. On the nose, the aromas of red fruits stand out, such as cherries, sour cherries, plums, and raspberries, while their aftertaste is fruity.

Rosé Agiorgitiko can be found in colors ranging from pale to intense pink. It is delicate, with a wonderful fresh and cool character and the aromatic intensity of red fruits.

Aged Agiorgitiko is more complex. Ruby in color, with an exuberant body, aromas of red fruit jam, chocolate, sweet spices, tobacco, and wood with a long aftertaste stimulate the senses. Their tannins are, of course, prominent but at the same time soft.

The sweet wines of the variety are dominated by aromas of dried fruits, such as fig, plum, raisin, and caramel.

Food Pairings with Agiorgitiko

“An aged Nemea needs more exuberant sauces and meats”

Rosé wines can be combined very nicely with salads, pizza, pasta with light red sauces, or even with delicious vegetable pies.

A fresh Agiorgitiko highlights appetizers, meat or fish dishes with lighter sauces, and also spaghetti with minced meat.

An aged Nemea needs more exuberant sauces and meats like roast beef, sausages, traditional Greek moussaka, and even burgers.

Sweet wines from Agiorgitiko match with chocolate. A souffle (soufflé) with dark chocolate, a chocolate pie, a chocolate bar or chocolates with caramelized nuts create an explosive combination with sweet wine.

 

Nemean estates you should really know, visit and/or try

Gaia Wines

Notios Red

This winery was founded in 1994 on the south-western slopes of Koutsi, at an elevation of 650 meters, and has now become one of Nemea’s household names. Wines from Gaia are exported to 25 countries worldwide, ranging from Japan to the United States. Their production is guided by consistency and a commitment to quality. The steady increase in exports and the prizes that Gaia Wines has acquired demonstrate that this incredible journey best represents the aspirations and goals of the people at Gaia Wines, and it will continue to develop a thirst for new experiences and knowledge.

Semeli Estate

Nemea Grande Reserve

Semeli established their huge vineyard in 2003 at 600 meters above sea level in the village of Koutsi, just a short distance from Gaia. Their finest white, Thea, is aged on fine lees for a distinctive and almost Burgundian take on Moschofilero, earning winemaker Leonidas Nassiakos a gold medal at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Palivou Estate

Organic Nemea by Ktima Palivou

George Palivos founded the winery in Ancient Nemea in 1995. The vineyards are predominantly planted with Agiorgitiko, with some Roditis, Malagousia, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. It is worth noting that all of the grapes from Palivou Estate are farmed organically. Their vines are located in a range of altitude varying from 300m to 600m and cover a variety of soil types such as calcareous, clay, loam, sand, and gravel.

Domaine Nikolaou

Nemea 100% Agiorgitiko, Estate Nikolaou

Nikolaou Estate was formed in 1984, continuing a family heritage of winemaking that began in 1936. The mountain air and the dampness of the mythological river Asopos create a one-of-a-kind microclimate for the 14-acre organic vineyard. Winery Nikolaou’s organic vineyard is located in Douramani and covers an area of 0.11 km2. Its farming adheres strictly to organic agricultural standards, with the goal of preserving the winery’s distinctive microclimate as well as the ecosystem of the surrounding region.

Organic Vineyards Papaioannou

Thanasis Papaioannou, the founder of Organic Vineyards Papaioannou, was one of the first wine growers-producers in Greece to embrace and support the concept of true Greek terroirs and their wines, with regard for the environment and its balance. Thanasis Papaioannou has made sure to plant the optimum variety, native or international, depending on the particular mesoclimate, in their large, privately held vineyard in different regions of Nemea.

 

Oray Wine


Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

None of this content has been sponsored

I did not receive any gifts or free samples that could be related to this article

Brazilian Wine, The New Frontier

Brazil is immense; it’s the fifth largest country after Russia, Canada, China and the USA. And although Brazil is known for its tropical rainforest and warm climate, the country’s southern tip has the right conditions to grow wine grapes.

Brazil produces over three million hectolitres of wine from its 83,000 hectares of vines, making it the third-largest wine-producing country in Latin America (after Argentina and Chile) and the 16th worldwide, right after New Zealand. So, is the wine any good?

Due to Brazil’s tropical latitudes, only 10% of its vineyards are planted with Vitis vinifera varietals (used worldwide to make fine wine). What’s even more interesting, although producers in Brazil make wine in all styles, the country is gaining recognition for its sparkling wine! Let’s talk about the five most representative wineries in the land of samba and capoeira.

Chandon Brazil

Chandon Brazil is by far the largest winemaking company in Brazil. Established in 1973, this is a branch of the well-known Champagne house, Moët & Chandon. As mentioned above, sparkling wine is a big deal in Brazil, and every bottle produced is consumed within the country.

Chandon Brasil Rosé

Chandon Brazil produces sparkling wines in all styles, from Brut to Demi-Sec; they make pink bubbles as well, all from fruit grown in their vineyards in the Serra Gaucha and Campanha. Interestingly, the company’s flagship Brut style is made with roughly equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling Itálico. Note that the Riesling Itálico (probably of Italian origin) is sometimes called Welschriesling and is different from the German Riesling grape. While remaining a white grape, the Welschriesling is better adapted to hotter climatic conditions and gives a different aromatic profile.

Casa Valduga

Casa Valduga is an iconic Brazilian winery at the heart of the Vale dos Vinhedos (the valley of vineyards), the first Denomination of Origin in Brazil.

Casa Valduga

Luiz Valduga founded the family-owned estate in 1992. The entrepreneur wanted more than just making fine wines in Brazil; Mr. Valduga single-handedly established the foundation of the region’s thriving wine tourism industry. Try the estate’s award-winning Gran Chardonnay D.O.

Miolo

Miolo is a quality-minded winemaking group making wine in four distinct estates in Brazil’s finest terroirs. Miolo makes still and sparkling wines from its own grapes grown in Vale dos Vinhedos, Campanha, and Vale do Sao Francisco.

Miolo Riesling

Miolo is also one of the few Brazilian estates with a presence in international markets. The wine to try? Miolo Single Vineyard Riesling Johannisberg. After sparkling wines, Riesling might just be the country’s most exciting category.

Lidio Carraro

Five generations of grape growers and winemakers have put Lidio Carraro winery on the map as one of the most prestigious estates in the country. The family-owned winery has vineyards along the State of Rio Grande do Sul, including some of the most exemplary plots in Vale dos Vinhedos.

Lidio Carraro

Although Lidio Carraro produces award-winning sparkling wine (sponsor of Brazil’s Formula 1 event), they also make superb white and red wines. Try their Grande Vindimia Quorum, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Cabernet Franc.

Família Geisse

Mario Geisse was Chandon Brazil’s winemaker in the late 70s and 80s before founding his own family estate. This winemaker’s skills have made wine enthusiasts in the country and abroad seek his creations, considered the first Cult Wines in Brazil. The winery was named New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2014.

Laranja Nature

The estate is located in the small wine region of Pinto Bandeira, where Mr. Geisse grows premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for his exclusive sparkling wines. Wine to try: Cave Amadeu Laranja Nature — sparkling wine made with the Champagne method that’s as good as any premium sparkling wine from anywhere in the world. Is the world ready for Brazilian fizz?

Oray Wine


Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

None of this content has been sponsored

I did not receive any gifts or free samples that could be related to this article

Discover the wines from the AOC La Clape

 

My Web Story on the AOC La Clape

Overview of the AOC La Clape

The AOC (“Appelation d’Origine Controlée” = Protected Denomination of Origin) La Clape is located in the South of France in the Languedoc part of the former Languedoc-Roussillon region (a region called Occitanie since the reform from president Hollande that grouped the Languedoc-Roussillon and the Midi-Pyrennées region into one larger region: Occitanie).

La Clape, near the City of Narbonne

Noticeably, the AOC La Clape is recognized as a standalone appellation since June 2015 by the French INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origines, the state-led organization that oversees the whole French appellation system). Before that, this appellation was only a subpart of the larger umbrella appellation “AOC Languedoc” and needed to be called AOC Languedoc-La Clape. This point can be very confusing for foreigners and not to make things easier it is worth noting that this standalone recognition has nothing to do with the decision from the French government to create the larger Occitanie administrative region. It was really due to the sustained efforts for years by the wine makers in La Clape to improve the quality of their production and express the singularity of their terroir into their wines. It is an appellation nested on a limestone hill in-between the city of Narbonne, the Mediterranean Sea and the city of Gruissan. It is a very sunny and dry area famous for its windy conditions all year long which can make the wine growing process quite challenging.

View of La Clape

Unlike in Burgundy the word “Cru” here does not carry an official value (yet), however, it is recognized unanimously as one of the very best “Crus” the Languedoc has to offer both in terms of wine quality and terroir.

Peculiarities of the AOC La Clape

“you can recognize these “garrigue” aromas in the best red wines from the appellation”

Besides its wonderful and well-known hiking trails that pass through many of the wineries in this hilly area, the area is distinguished by its “garrigue” (= scrubland) vegetation. In fact, apart from the garrigue, local trees and vines, nothing else can really grow in this area given the climatic conditions. Broadly speaking, the garrigue can be defined as a mix of various ground-level vegetations (rosemary, wild thyme, sage, lavender, boxwood…) covering limestone soils together with some adapted tree species (pine trees, olive trees, junipers, holly oaks, holm oaks…). This “garigue” produces a very characteristic smell that you have no problem recognizing when you walk the hiking trails around here, especially during summer. It smells like a blend of resin, pine tree aromas, and aromatic compounds derived from wild thymes, rosemaries, and sages. We generally consider that the higher the temperature, the stronger the smell is. This is of particular interest for the wine produced locally, as you can recognize these “garrigue” aromas in the best red wines from the appellation. These aromas, together with the typical level of minerality inherited from the limestone soils of the area, are what make these wines standout.

 

Winegrowing in the AOC La Clape

Vineyards in La Clape

As mentioned earlier there is a warm, dry and windy microclimate. Consequently, the vastly dominant training system is the “Bush Training”, where vines are conducted as little bushes low to the ground and not trellised. This has two advantages. First, it protects the grapes from sunburn as leaves from the bushes provide shadows for the grapes. Second, it also protects the vines from being deteriorated by strong winds (if they were trellised, they would need to be trained higher from the ground, which would generate more surface exposition to the winds which in turn would deteriorate leaves, grapes and the trellising system).

“vines need to suffer to bring their best”

Another typical trait of local winegrowing is “Dry Farming”. Here, despite the climatic conditions, they do not irrigate their vineyards. Combined with these very stony soils, how is it possible to grow vines there? The answer is quite simple, they select drought resistant rootstocks in vine nurseries (also resistant to other diseases such as Phylloxera…) and graft them with drought resistant grape varieties (such as Grenache, Mourvèdre…) that happens to be widespread in the hot Mediterranean area (Grenache is called Garnacha and Mourvèdre is called Monastrell in Spain) for that exact same reason. Don’t mistake it, that is absolutely not synonymous with low quality. In fact, it is totally the opposite. Such conditions bring out quality in wines. There is an old saying in France that “vines need to suffer to bring their best” and it is totally the case here.

 

Grapes and Blends in the AOC La Clape

When talking about wines from the South of France, and those from the AOC La Clape make no exception, you will often hear the acronym “GSM” or the term “GSM Blend”. But, what does it mean? It is very easy, GSM means a combination of the three following grapes: Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. It is the typical blend or base blend of wines made in the Languedoc/ Languedoc-Roussillon/Occitanie region in the South of France. Schematically summarized, Grenache brings fruity aromas, Syrah brings spicy and peppery aromas, while Mourvèdre brings tannins, alcohol, more aroma complexities and helps toward a better integrated final blend.

“it is not a grape that is valued by wine consumers as they just do not know about it”

Another feature of this region is the autochtonous Bourboulenc white grape. You will find it in many wineries around, either as a standalone wine or as a major component of the local white blend. Most of the time they combine it with Marsanne, Roussane and/or Grenache Blanc. It is a very intriguing grape as it can give a very different tasting profile depending on the wine-making process selected and/or on the final blend. However, it is not really difficult to recognize its presence given its very singular combination of acidity, minerality, astringency and aromas. Unfortunately, it is not a grape that is valued by wine consumers as they just do not know about it so its potential remains far from being exploited to its true value.

 

Wineries that standout

Château l’Hospitalet

Some names from the AOC La Clape such as Chateau Pech Redon (certified Organic since 2005) or Domaine de la Ramade (certified Organic since 2012) sound very familiar to wine lovers. I really suggest you give a try to the wines from the Chateau d’Anglès (HVE level 3 and converting to organic) directed by Eric Fabre. I really like their Grand Vin Blanc based on a blend including grapes from old Bourboulenc vines. Anyway, I really advise you to direct your choice toward biodynamic or organic wineries from this appellation, as I see no reason why some of the wineries have such wonderful results from organically grown grapes while others are pleased with pesticides usage and lower quality end results.

Château l’Hospitalet, 2019

Finally, if you have only a very short amount of time to spend in the area and can visit only one winery, I would strongly encourage you to go to the Chateau l’Hospitalet owned by Gerard Bertrand. This wine estate was formerly owned by Jacques Ribourel who invested a lot to bring it to a high standard. Now, Gerard Bertrand and his team make a wonderful job in terms of wine quality and environmental care (Biodynamic – certified Demeter). You will always feel welcome with open arms to taste their best wines, such as l’Hospitalitas and Chateau l’Hospitalet Grand Vin rouge. You will also be able to taste wines from their other great estates such as Clos d’Ora. The site offers a great Hotel facility with Spa and restaurants. Last but not least, if you are a honey lover, I cannot recommend you enough to buy their Rosemary honey which is for me the best honey I have ever tasted so far. If you are a foodie, then buy one and go to take a tour of the city of Gruissan (starting around the Tour Barberousse for instance) or to the beach (you will find some fresh and crispy French bread on your way – it pairs perfectly with it, the crispier and the most toasted, the better). If you love hiking, then park (for free) near the Auzils Chapel (Chapelle Notre Dame des Auzils) and go for the easy hike to the Vigie de La Clape, where you will have a panoramic view on most of La Clape and the Mediterranean Sea.

Oray Wine


Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

None of this content has been sponsored

I did not receive any gifts or free samples that could be related to this article

Top-quality and outstanding boutique wines in Cyprus

Cyprus has a very ancient history concerning winemaking, as it started to produce the infamous Commandaria 5000 years ago. Apart from the fact that Commandaria is now a recognized Protected Denomination of Origin (P.D.O) in Europe, Cyprus is also famous in the wine world for having totally escaped the Phylloxera pandemic, resulting in very old and ungrafted vines throughout the island.

However, nowadays we still do not easily make the connection between Cyprus and the world of wine. Can we find quality and interesting wines from Cyprus? Which wine should we buy when visiting the island? Which wine should we bring back as a gift or souvenir from our trip there? Where to find the best wineries? Which grape varieties should we favor?

According to the wine laws in Cyprus, there are five main regions: Laona Akamas, Vouni Panayia Ampelitis, Krasohoria- Limassol, Pitsilia, and Commandaria. And seven wine routes where we can find all the precious wineries. These routes correspond to the five main regions, plus Diarizos Valley and Lefkosia (since 2014).

This article will dig into these five regions as it is easier to identify the best wineries within each and will try to provide more details about their respective quality wines, growing trends, and distinguished brands.

Laona- Akamas -West of Paphos

Cyprus map

The microclimate of the region is affected by the sea breeze and the neighbouring ‘Stavros tis Psokas’ forest, the ‘Everton dam’ (sometimes called Evertou) and the ‘Stavros tis Psokas’ River. The local climate shows mild winters and mild summers.

“the most popular winery among Cypriots”

The best winery is probably Vasilikon winery, as it is the most popular winery among Cypriots. Its most iconic wines are the premium dry red ‘Methy’ (made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and aged in French oak barrels) and the refreshing dry rosé ‘Einalia’ (made from the Syrah and Maratheftiko grapes) that show a vivid pomegranade colour and outstanding aromas of sweet cherries.

In this area we can also find some interesting wineries, such as the ‘Fikardos’ winery, with its rare indigenous grape varieties. I really advise you to try its wines made from either the Xinisteri white grape or the Spourtiko white grape.

“the two most widely planted grape varieties on the island: the Xinisteri (a white grape) and the Mavro (a red grape)”

The ‘Kamantarena Winery’ is one of Cyprus’s largest producers, producing over 3.000.000 bottles per year. Its traditional premium-aged spirit, ‘Zivania’ (also spelled ‘Zibania’), is worth a try. The ‘Zivania’ is a very popular spirit locally that is made from the two most widely planted grape varieties on the island: the Xinisteri (a white grape) and the Mavro (a red grape). This winery also produces a dry wine collection called ‘Project X’. Its red ‘Project X’ from the Maratheftiko grape shows some promises. Its white ‘Project X’ made from the Xinisteri is also interesting. The only slight problem is that you will only be able to find these ‘Project X’ dry wines directly at the winery.

 

Vouni Panayia- Ampelitis – Northeast of Paphos City

Depending on whether you are in the upper or lower part of the Vouni Panayia-Ampelitis region, this unique small area has two distinct microclimates. The upper region is high in altitude, with cold winters and mild summers. The lower part of the region is low to middle altitude (up to 500 meters) and has cool summer nights and mist in the early autumn. Throughout the region, you can find various soils which can give extraordinary minerality and a long aftertaste to some of the wines made.

The ’Vouni Panayia’ winery is located on the highest point of the region, with outstanding old vines of traditional grape varieties. I would really advise you to try its dry white called ‘Promara’ (made from the indigenous ‘Promara’ grape). It shows white lilac and white guava aromas together with a long aftertaste of lemon.

“the first organic winery in Cyprus”

The ’Tsangarides winery’ is the first organic winery in Cyprus and is locally renowned for its wines made from the white Xinisteri grape (Medium Dry or Dry) and its unique ‘Vasilissa’ (an autochthonous forgotten grape). The ‘Vasilissa’ is a balanced wine with an elegant medium body and jasmine/elderflower aromas and a long aftertaste of dragon fruit.

The ‘Makarounas boutique winery’ is a small hidden jewel that has been recently distinguished by several wine awards. Its best bottle is probably its dry red made from the ‘Spourtiko’ grape that has won the 2022 gold medal from the Decanter World Wine Awards with a score of 95. It is made of 100% Spourtiko. It comes from a single vineyard and ungrafted vines.

 

Krasohoria Limassol- South slopes of Troodos Mountain

The local climate is quite continental with cold winters, while in summer, mean temperatures reach are around 25°C. If you are not a fan of new and innovative types of wine, this region is for you with its traditional full-bodied red wines and balanced white wines.

The ‘Zambartas wineries’ is a family-owned winery that produces great dry reds that are among my favourites. I really recommend you try its ‘Zambartas Shiraz -Lefkada’. It is a porwerful and full-bodied (dry) red wine made of 65% Syrah grape (called Shiraz as one member of the Zambartas family has studied wine in Adelaïde – Australia) and 35% Lefkada (a red grape potentially originating from Central Greece and widely grown on the eponymous Ionian island ; it is sometimes called Verzami in Cyprus). This wine has been aged for 12 months in French and American oak. The Shiraz contributes to the spicy and peperry aromas while the Lefkada contributes to the structure of the wine and gives it some intense mulberry fruit notes.

The ‘Vlassides winery’ is a new generation winery with its own outstanding red blends and a silky/creamy Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of passion fruit.

Ayia
Mavri
Mosxatos

The ‘Ayia Mavri Winery’ is well known locally for its sweet wines that almost always come with the perfect acidity level. That is the reason why they are often paired with dessert by Cypriots. You can try its bottle called ‘Medium White’ made from the Xinisteri local white grape together with the Muscat grape. My favourite is probably its ‘MOSXATOS’ bottle, a sweet white wine made from the Muscat of Alexandria grape that exhibits tropical fruit aromas.

 

Pitsilia region -Easter slop of Troodos Mountain

The climate here is made up of cold, frosty winters (the lowest temperatures in all Cyprus), snow from December to February and cool summers.

Kyperounda Petritis

My first choice in this area would be the ‘Kyperounda winery’ with its traditional and aged wines. For me, there are two wines that stand out. First, the ‘Petritis’, a dry white wine made from the Xinisteri (sometimes written Xynisteri). This wine is a combination of the local Xinisteri grape and the mountainous aspects of the vineyards that allow the grape to keep a good level of acidity and freshness despite maturing in oak barrels. Second, its dry red wine called ‘Psila Klimata’ made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that have matured for 12 months under French oak. It is a full-bodied and tannic wine that should probably be aged a little before drinking but has good potential for aging. These two wines are easily found in supermarkets locally and are among the most awarded wines of the island.

The ’Tsiakkas winery’ is a boutique winery with an outstanding terroir made of terraced steep mountain slopes (up to 1500 meters high) where ungrafted (phylloxera-free) vines flourish and give top quality organically grown grapes. Its Sauvignon Blanc wines are great. If by any chance you have the opportunity to buy or taste a vintage around 2014, it would be a top choice to be consumed in 2022 (8 years old).

 

Commandaria region – the historic growing area

It is located on the south-eastern slope of Troodos Mountain. The climate here is temperate, with cold and frosty winters that contrast with dry and warm summers.

“It can only be made with a combination of the Xinisteri (a white grape) and the Mavro (a red grape)”

Commandaria is the most famous sweet red wine in Cyprus. It can be fortified or unfortified. It can only be made with a combination of the Xinisteri (a white grape) and the Mavro (a red grape). Both grapes are indigenous to Cyprus and widely planted on the island. Only 14 villages can produce Commandaria.

Kyperounda Unfortified Commandaria

I highly recommend you try the ‘Kyperounda winery’ unfortified Commandaria with its elegant, sweet cherries, blueberries, blackberries and vanilla aromas. This type of unfortified Commandaria sweet wines naturally finishes their fermentation at 13%- 14% alc. vol. while fortified Commandaria wines fermentation is stopped by adding alcohol at an earlier stage, resulting in less complex aromas.

Halloumi Cheese

The best winery for fortified Commandaria is probably the ‘St John of Keo winery’ recognized locally for its unique quality. Locals really like to pair it with Halloumi (the most famous local cheese) and fig jams produced in the surrounding areas.

 

Oray Wine


Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

None of this content has been sponsored

I did not receive any gifts or free samples that could be related to this article

Discover the Malagousia grape and the wineries that show its best expression

Malagousia, or melaouzia, as some people in Greek villages call it, is a white grape variety native to Greece. Malagousia is widely known as a grape that has been resurrected because, up until the 1970s, very few people knew about it and it was considered to be extinct. Today, due to the efforts of viticulturists and winemakers around Greece, Malagousia is a widely known variety that provides excellent dry white wines and some sweet ones as well.

Historically, the variety originated from Aitoloakarnania, where it was cultivated on a very small scale, and now it is grown on 182 hectares all around Greece. Malagousia makes great wines, both as a stand-alone variety as well as in combination with other native Greek or international varieties. Many wines with a protected geographical indication (PGI) feature the variety, and it is also used in a blend along with Athiri and Assyrtiko in the white wine of the PDO (protected designation of origin) Rhodes.

 

What to look for in a Malagousia wine

“medium body, subtle acidity, and tend to leave an “oily” sensation on the palate”

The typical characteristics of the variety are high alcohol content, with ABVs (Alcohol By Volume) that can reach up to 13% for dry wines, medium body, subtle acidity, and tend to leave an “oily” sensation on the palate. Malagousia is a highly aromatic variety with prominent notes of white flowers (jasmine and citrus blossoms), ripe stone fruits (peach and apricot), as well as citrus fruits like lime, grapefruit, and lemon. If the variety is cultivated in a cool climate, then you might notice herbal notes like green tea and spearmint. Malagousia, from warmer climates, has a more tropical character, featuring notes of mango, pineapple, and passion fruit.

As mentioned earlier, there are also dessert Malagousia wines.These are still very fruity but also more honey-like, with notes of honeysuckle, honeycomb, orange jam, and apricot. Sweet wines that have spent some time in oak barrels exist, but they may be difficult to find as the most common versions are the flowery ones that are bottled right after they leave the tank.

Recently, due to the popularity that the natural wine movement has gained, there have been a lot of natural Malagousia wines. This winemaking practice of fermenting the wine juice along with the skin of the grapes seems to agree with this variety, as the oily mouthfeel blends with the mellow tannins that come from the skins of the grapes, and the fruity character of the wine is even more accentuated.

 

Food Pairing with Malagousia

When it comes to food pairing, one of the things that I have always been taught and continue to believe is “what grows together, goes together,” which means that Malagousia is a perfect match for Greek dishes. Since the variety has a strong aromatic profile and a very unique “oily” texture, it is a perfect match for shellfish like calamari and cuttlefish, either roasted or sauteed, in order to maintain their “buttery” texture and blend with the wine. Malagouzia can perfectly complement green salads and pasta with light sauces or pesto. The wines that have more “herbal” notes can go with light dishes that include chicken, fish, traditional cheese pies, and green salads. Traditional Greek orange pies, or anything that is fruit-based, even a pavlova, are a perfect match for the sweet versions of Malagouzia wines.

 

Discover the wineries

Domaine Porto Carras

This is where the resurrection of the variety took place, as Domaine Porto Carras was the first winery to bottle a Malagousia, thanks to the efforts of the oenologist Vangelis Gerovassiliou. This wine’s appellation is PGI Halkidiki and it is made in the region of Macedonia. This organic wine is partly aged on lees for a few months and partly barrel aged, resulting in an intensely aromatic profile. You will notice floral aromas, along with stone fruit. It is deceptively drinkable given its high ABV (13.5%). Flavorful, fresh and scented, without being “too much”. A perfect example of a wine made from the Malagousia grape.

 

Ktima Gerovassiliou

The Ktima Gerovassiliou winery has gained 105 distinctions for its Malagousia over the years, so you know it’s definitely worth a try. It’s part of the appellation PGI Epanomi. The zone’s wines are among the most successful and highly acclaimed PGI wines in Greece. The vinification process is partly done in stainless steel tanks and partly in French oak barrels, After that, the wine is left in contact with the lees for a few months to become fully structured. In this Malagousia, you will find characteristic notes of ripe fruit, like pear, mango, and citrus aromas.

Ktima Gerovassiliou makes a great sweet wine from grapes that are left to overripen on the vines, but that can only happen in the years when the weather allows it, so you could say that this is a rare find. The must that comes from pressing the grapes is vinified in French oak barrels, where it stays and ages for 3 years. The resulting wine has a straw gold color and aromas of fruits and honey. If you like sweet, aromatic wines , you’ll love this “Gliko Lefko.”

 

Domaine Lafazanis

Another award-winning Malagousia is Geometria (which literally means Geometry) by Domaine Lafazanis. It’s part of the appellation PGI Peloponnese, which means that the wine is made in a relatively southern part of Greece, as opposed to the previous wines mentioned that are made in the northern part. From this Malagouzia, you can expect the characteristic fruity and floral aromas, as well as a balanced flavor and a lingering finish.

 

My Advice

If you’re trying to expand your palate by tasting wines from around the world, a Greek Malagouzia is definitely a must-try. Fruity and fresh, structured but not overwhelming, dry or sweet, it’s a perfect match for the summer.

 

Oray Wine


References and citations

  1. https://www.gerovassiliou.gr/en/wines
  2. https://www.portocarraswines.gr/en/products/wines/31-white/33-malagouzia.html
  3. https://lafazanis.gr/en/
  4. “Ampelographia” by Stavrakas, D. E. , Ekdoseis Ziti, Peraia, Thessaloniki – 2. Edition

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The Unexploited Potential of the Mexican Wine Market

Mexico is a large country, home to nearly 130 million people with growing expendable income. Mexicans like to party, too — they drink an average of 233 bottles of beer yearly; not bad compared to the 282 consumed in the neighboring United States, the world’s leading market for alcohol consumption. Still, there aren’t many wine lovers in Mexico. Is this a missed opportunity?

“This might be one of the most under-developed wine markets worldwide”

Let’s talk about the Mexican wine market, its challenges and the opportunities for wine producers, distributors, importers and exporters. This might be one of the most under-developed wine markets worldwide. Is there an opportunity in Mexico for you?

 

Wine Consuming Habits in Mexico

Mexicans consume on average 0,8 litres of wine yearly. In comparison, the French consume 46.9 liters, and Italians are not far behind. Still, Mexican wine enthusiasts are catching up and have the second-highest consumption growth in America, with yearly increments of around 8%.

“Wine consumption in Mexico is increasing, representing an extraordinary opportunity for everyone involved in the trade, but not without challenges”

Wine consumption in Mexico is increasing, representing an extraordinary opportunity for everyone involved in the trade, but not without challenges. It goes without saying, wine is not part of the Mexican diet, and people are not used to the fermented beverage. This might change in the future — after all, Mexico is a wine-producing country in its own right.

 

Mexico as a Wine Producer

Mexican wine producers make 22.5 million liters of wine annually, mostly up north, in Baja California. There are 8,431 hectares of vines destined for wine production, planted with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ugni Blanc, Carignan, Merlot and others.

Nebbiolo and Tempranillo, although not as widely planted as those mentioned above, show the most promise. At the same time, grapes reminiscent of the country’s Brandy days in the 70s-80s, including Ugni Blanc and Colombard, are often the least attractive; of course, the Mexican market has yet to discorver the extraordinary European renditions of these grapes. Overall, Mexican wine is getting better every year. The problem is that there is not enough to go around.

 

Most Popular Wine Styles in Mexico

Wine consumers in Mexico are deeply in love with red wine, representing 56.29% of the market, followed by sweet, fortified wines (16.82%), sparkling wine (14.10%) and white wine (11.94%).

“There might also be an opportunity for value brands to capture the emerging market’s attention”

There’s a strong consumer preference for Mexican wine, but local production only makes for 2.3% of the available wine due to its small scale. Spain and Chile dominate nearly half the Mexican wine scene and, along with France, Italy, Argentina and the USA, have a hold on 98% of the market. What does this mean to wine importers, wholesalers and retailers? These are the hard facts.

  • The Mexican wine market is growing at an astounding rate. Mexico’s wine production is also increasing, although it might never fully satisfy the country’s demand for wine. Imported wine will continue to dominate the sector.
  • Mexican wine drinkers are just discovering the complexities of the wine world, so consumers will stick to recognizable brands and wine grapes for the foreseeable future. You’ll sell plenty of Cabernet and Tempranillo, but don’t expect bottles made with rare varietals or from lesser-known wine regions to fly off the shelf.
  • Wine is expensive in Mexico, especially for the high taxes on alcoholic drinks, expected to rise during the current administration. Alcoholic beverages in the country have a 26% production tax plus a 16% value-added tax. Shortly, wine lovers are expecting to pay 46.5% of taxes on alcoholic beverages.
  • Wine consumption might be increasing in Mexico, but the fermented grape juice is still almost exclusively consumed by people with middle-high to high incomes; in other words, the country’s privileged one per cent. This represents an opportunity, even if small, for luxury brands and high-profile wines. There might also be an opportunity for value brands to capture the emerging market’s attention. Still, wine meant for connoisseurs will have to wait for Mexico’s wine consumers to develop a wine-friendly palate. Will Mexico ever fall in love with wine?

 

Oray Wine



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Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

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Why are Jumilla’s wines so unique?

Just one hour from the Mediterranean Sea, under the silent watch of the castle on the hill, lays Jumilla, the epicentre of the appellation of the same name. Winemaking dates back to 3000 BC, and it is the main economic activity in the region.

Truthfully, the Jumilla region has several peculiarities that make it quite remarkable —located inland, in the southeast of Spain (Murcia), the breezes from the sea and its altitude determine its climate in a very particular way.

Location of the DO Jumilla in Spain

Indeed this region enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. However, the climate is semiarid, with only 300 liters per square meter of annual rainfall, mainly in the autumn and spring. Temperatures can reach 40ºC in summer and drop below zero in winter. It also has a large diurnal range, which allows it to retain the freshness and acidity of the grapes.

The average altitude is 500m above sea level, yet the undulating landscape means the vineyards range from 320m to 900m above sea level, notably affecting temperature and maturation. The soils, mainly limestone, are poor and often covered with white rocks reflecting the sun and heat. However, at the same time, they retain water easily, allowing the vines to keep up in long periods of drought. Under these conditions, the spread of phylloxera is almost impossible. In fact, Jumilla was one of the only Sapnish region not affected by the epidemic that devastated Europe from 1869-1880. As a consequence, 80% of the vines are ungrafted.

Due to the combination of climate and soil, it should not be surprising that organic, rain-fed agriculture is particularly prevalent in this region.

“the Monastrell grape is king”

In these circumstances, the Monastrell grape is king. This varietal is indigenous to the southeast of Spain, although it is probably best known as Mouvèdre in the well-known GSM blends from the southern Rhône region. Regardless, it is the signature grape of the appellation, and its wines are increasing in popularity even outside of Spain.

Monastrell is a late-ripening grape with a compact and tight cluster, thickskinned, medium-sized berries, and is very resistant to drought. Its roots dig deep into the soil in search of water and nutrients, and, given the extreme conditions, the fruit is enriched by concentrating aromas, colour, and flavours.

“Juan Gil is the winery that probably put Jumilla on the map”

“Mainstream” Jumilla’s Monastrell wines are dry, typically single varietal, with a deep layer, ruby colour with violet hues, high alcohol content (reaching 14.5º ABV easily), rough tannins, and medium to low acidity. As a result, the tannins must be tamed by ageing in barrels, typically French oak. Depending on the producer and the desired style, the ageing may be between 6 and 18 months. These wines are fragrant, with aromas of black fruits, pepper, raisins, tobacco, vanilla, and chocolate. These flavours also translate into the palate, complemented with hints of meat and forest floor. They are excellent wines, suitable for cellaring, though some consider them an acquired taste, as they can feel heavy and strong. Juan Gil is the winery that probably put Jumilla on the map. Their collection with the Yellow Label, Silver Label and Blue Label is probably the most famous and the most well-known representation of Jumilla wines abroad, all made in this style.

Juan Gil Blue Label – DO Jumilla

However, nowadays, there is a new trend consisting in harvesting the grapes before they reach their full maturity. In return, the acidity increases, and the alcohol decreases. The extraction process in the winery focuses on bringing up the fruit rather than colour and tannins, making it unnecessary to engage in barrel ageing. The resulting wines are fresh, with mouthwatering acidity, accentuating the fragrances and flavours of red fruit, local wild aromatic herbs, and even flowers. Ideal for drinking lightly chilled, they are a modern, more approachable alternative for the less trained palates and definitely a must for the summer. The first and foremost winery making wine in this style is Parajes del Valle; its tasting profile and look are very popular among consumers, especially in the Nordics countries and Canada.

“Las Rutas del Vino invite the visitor to get to know some of the 40 wineries that are part of the appellation”

The Jumilla region is booming and currently strongly developing its wine tourism related activities. Las Rutas del Vino (“Wine routes”) invite the visitor to get to know some of the 40 wineries that are part of the appellation while participating in events or different activities. A popular event includes live music while enjoying a glass of local wine and some of the region’s delicacies (Jumilla has rich gastronomy – local goat cheese is delicious, but also the cold meats, or the traditional “puchero”). To find more information and the full programme, you can visit rutadelvinojumilla.com.

DO Jumilla Wine Route Spain

Also interesting for the visitor are the local festivals, some of them revolving around wine, which are worth enjoying. The most famous is the “Fiesta de la vendimia” (that would translate into something like “Harvest Festivities”), which happens around the 15th of August every year, honouring the wine and the winemakers, where different events and contests take place, both for kids and adults.

Oray Wine


Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

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