Tag: Wine

Winemaking region of Paros: Everything you should know

Naousa Port, Paros Island, Greece

Paros’s wine, like Santorini’s, but unlike the other Cyclades’, is not a novelty. The inhabitants of the island have been producing wine for thousands of years, and now the entire island, along with its neighboring island called Antiparos, is part of the PDO Paros, which was established in 1981. It produces both white and red wines. However, because Paros is a popular tourist destination, construction and changes in the island’s occupational profile have had a significant limiting impact on viticulture over the last decades.

 

Winemaking in Paros: a Brief History

Vine Pergola in the streets of Naousa, Paros Island, Greece

When Phylloxera hit the rest of Europe, many Greek islands, including Paros, were left unaffected due to their soil and climatic conditions. Consequently, they kept producing wine to export to Western countries whose production had fallen back due to the disease. By the mid-twentieth century, the island had a viticulture area of 10,000 acres and five wineries.

However, Paros saw rapid development in the field of tourism in the 1970s, and the remaining grapevines now covers only about 1,200 acres. The island was promoted as a viticultural location in 1981, with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for wines produced from the Mandilaria and Monemvasia grape varieties.

In addition, a Malvasia Paros PDO was established in 2011. It includes sweet wines made from sundried Monemvasia (at least 85% of the blend) and Assyrtiko (up to 15% of the blend). Before bottling, the wine must be aged in barrels for at least 24 months.

Terroir

Mount Profitis Elias, Paros Island, Greece

Paros is a flat island with strong summer winds (called Meltemia) and limited rainfall during the summer season, but it also has higher humidity levels than other Cycladic islands. The vines are grown on rich calcareous, sandy, and sandy-clay soil eroded from the slopes of Mount Profitis Elias. The central part of the island is mountainous, reaching a height of 724 meters (2375 ft.). The vines grow freely in bush form, with many self-rooting. The old wood spreads horizontally while young shoots grow vertically, forming a vine-covered floor, a system known locally as Aplotaries (from the Greek verb ‘Aplono’, which means’ To Spread’).

Varieties

The vineyards are primarily planted with Monemvasia and Mandilaria grapes, but other indigenous varieties are grown that are not used in the blends of PDO Paros wines. These varieties include the rare Maloukato, the white Potamisi which can be considered as the star of the Cyclades , the slightly tannic early-ripening red Mavrathiro, the fruity and tannic Vaftra, and the Aidani Mavro, a light-skinned, very vigorous variety producing very soft, very fruity reds(or some of the most intriguing rosés).

The uniqueness of Paros wines

Bar in the Streets of Naousa, Paros Island, Greece

There’s something special about Paros wines that you won’t see anywhere else in Greece. Paros is the only PDO wine region where winemakers are permitted to blend red and white grapes. When it comes to wine legislation, the countries of the Old World, including Greece, can be very strict, so it may come as a surprise that this is permitted. White wines classified as Paros PDO must be made entirely of Monemvasia. But things are different for soft red colored Paros PDO wines, which can be made with up to 65 percent white Monemvasia and at least 35 percent red grape Mandilaria.

If you’re wondering why that happens, it’s because Mandilaria has very harsh tannins, but when blended with Monemvasia, they become softer.

 

The wineries of Paros : My Top Choice

When it comes to the wineries of Paros, there may not be many, but the wines they produce are high quality and made with great respect to the traditions of winemaking.

o Moraitis Wines

Moraitis White, Oak Fermented, PDO Paros

You can’t talk about Paros wines without mentioning Moraitis wines. The winery of the Moraitis family is located near the beach of Aghioi Anargyroi in Naoussa (not to be confused with the winemaking area of Naoussa in northern Greece). Manolis Moraitis founded it in 1910. He grew his own vineyards and gathered and vinified grapes from various vineyards on the island. The Moraitis Winery now owns 18,000 m2 of organic vineyards in selected vine cultivation areas of the island, primarily featuring indigenous Paros varieties such as Monemvasia, Mandilaria, Aidani Black, Vaftra, and Karampraimi. They also grow Assyrtiko and Malagouzia. Manolis Moraitis, a third-generation winemaker and tradition keeper, wants to preserve the character of the local vineyards while revealing the quality of their varieties. Don’t pass up their “Paros Oak Fermented” from 100% Monemvasia. This wine is aged in oak barrels for four years, producing a wine with floral and citrus aromas, as well as notes of vanilla and dry nuts. It has a full body and a long-lasting aromatic aftertaste. It is balanced and “oily.”

o Louridis Winery

Louridis, Dry Red Wine, PDO Paros, Greece

Sofia and Nikos Louridis own and operate the Louridis winery. The winery’s history begins in 2008, when the winery, distillery, and bottling plant were established in Marpissa, Paros, Greece. Monemvasia and Mandilaria are planted in their privately owned vineyards on the east side of Paros, and are excellent raw materials for the production of top quality wine due to the sun and the sea of the Aegean. One white and one red PDO Paros wine are produced by the winery. The Louridis dry white wine shows a vibrant color, aromas of peach and wild flowers, a rich mouthfeel, and a refreshing finish. Their dry red wine is a typical Paros red, with a deep ruby color, aromas of red fruit and vanilla, a velvety mouthfeel, and a long finish.

o Domaine Roussos (Asteras Winery)

Domaine Roussos Rosé, PDO Paros, Greece

Domaine Roussos is a new winery in Paros’ Asteras region. The winery began with only 130 family-owned acres planted linearly with indigenous Paros varieties. The first large planting of vines was 40 acres in 2007, and another 30 acres were covered with vines over the next four years. The Roussos winery has established high standards and is committed to providing high-quality bottled wine for all tastes at a reasonable price. A must-try is their rosé wine, which is made entirely of Adani Mavro. This variety produces a distinct rosé wine with a soft orange color and a very rich aromatic bouquet of red fruits and flowers.

 

Oray


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

A Trip to the AOC Baux de Provence: The Stronghold of Organic & Biodynamic Winemaking

Let’s take a trip to the fabulous and picturesque fortress city of Les Baux de Provence to discover the wines made in this region. The old city of Les Baux de Provence is perched on a rocky hillside in the extreme west of the Provence region (near the end of the Rhone Valley). The region, located at the foothills of the French Alpilles, is known for its numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, local microclimate, and breathtaking scenery (especially at sunset). This highly praised wine region is famous for having been one of the first strongholds of organic viticulture, with prestigious wineries converting very early. So let’s dive into it.

 

The City of Les Baux de Provence: The Wine Region’s Icon

Les Baux de Provence, Panorama, Provence, France

Let’s start with the city that gave its name to this beautiful wine region. In the old local language (i.e., the “Provençal”) a “Baou” is the name given to a rocky hilltop. This “Baou” is part of the label “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (=”The Most Beautiful Villages of France”). If you have the chance to stop by to visit, you will have to park your car around and climb up to the old city by foot as it is inaccessible to vehicles. After walking up the stairs, you will be able to discover the tiny streets running around the old castle. They are full of small shops selling all kinds of handcrafted products and local specialties. Consequently, the streets are perfumed with a mixture of typical Provence made of olives, olive oils, dried lavender, dried thymes, dried rosemary, and dried sages. This really makes it a unique experience.

In terms of soil, the limestone rocks composing the hill on which it has been built are rich in “bauxite”, a particular type of limestone composition named after the city.

The “Carrières des Lumières”

Limestone Quarries , Les Baux de Provence

Before going to the top of the old city, you can visit “Carrières des Lumières“, the impressive white limestone quarries dug to extract the rocks used to build the castle and the old town. If you have never visited them, I really advise you to go there at least once. The visit to the quarries starts with the monumental “Picasso Entrance” which will give you a glimpse of what to expect once inside. You will be able to take a walk in these monumental galleries dug under the mountain that are cut by the huge columns left by the quarrymen to carry the “ceiling”. Usually, children love the experience, especially since the quarries have been transformed into large natural screens for film projection with hundreds of different illuminations and art theme exhibitions.

Wines from the AOC Baux de Provence

Chateau d’Estoublon, AOC Les Baux de Provence

Before the creation of the AOC Baux de Provence, wines produced in this area had to be labelled as AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. It was only in 1995 that this wine region gained access to its own independent appellation. One of the main reasons behind it was that the local micro-climate is warmer and wetter than the major part of the AOC Coteaux de Provence. The status of this relatively new AOC was changed in 2005 to make it far more stringent than the AOC Coteaux de Provence. As a consequence, red wines (57% of the total production) are mainly made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (the infamous “GSM” blend). This GSM blend needs to represent at least 60% of the total blend. It can be completed by Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan, and Cabernet-Sauvignon (but only if together they account for a maximum of 20% of the final blend). Red wines from this appellation need to be aged for at least one year before being released. The average level of quality is high; wines are well made and can be aged easily. They are probably one of the most underrated quality red wines in France as they are hidden in the shadows of the Rhone Valley reds and Provence rosés. But, make no mistake, there will come a time when the wine world will realize the full extent of its true potential.

Regarding the rosés, they can only be made from Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. They amount to around 40% of total production. Remember that we are in the Provence region where rosés rhyme with Cru Classé.

It was only recently that the white wines were allowed to be produced under the AOC Baux de Provence label. They only make up 5% of total production. They can be made through a classic local blend of Rolle (= Vermentino), Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and more recently, Marsanne and Roussanne (two grapes more specific to the neighboring Rhone Valley whites) were allowed to be incorporated into the final blend.

AOC Baux de Provence: the hidden bastion of organic and biodynamic viticulture

“the strong “Mistral” wind combined with its unique dry micro-climate that helps vines to be very healthy”

When you hear about biodynamic viticulture, you often hear producer names from Burgundy or even Nicolas Joly and his iconic and marvelous Coulée de Serrant. However, you scarcely hear experts talking about the AOC Baux de Provence. And yet, this AOC was one of the very early advocates of organic and biodynamic viticulture in France. For sure, this was greatly helped by the strong “Mistral” wind combined with its unique dry micro-climate (close to the “Val d’Enfer”) that helps vines to be very healthy. Another factor was the importance of the production of super-premium olive oils in the region, for which quality labels imposed very early the abandonment of pesticide use. As the vines were traditionally grown together with olive trees, the wineries had no choice but to suppress any agrochemicals in order not to lose labels for their pricy olive oils. As a result, this wine region was probably the first to exhibit the fact that organic and biodynamic viticulture can go hand in hand with top quality in the finished products. The quality of the wine production in the region was already high before this revolution, but the whole region jumped to another level after it, showing to the world that a large-scale endorsement of these disputed techniques was possible and viable.

The Domaine de Terres Blanches and the Domaine de Hauvette were among France’s very early converts to totally abandoning agrochemicals and converting to full organic viticulture.

Château d’Estoublon: when a picturesque setting fosters excellence in wine and olive oil production

Château d’Estoublon in Provence

Close to Les-Baux-de-Provence, between Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, lies the Château d’Estoublon, a historical castle dating back to 1489. This estate covers 200 hectares, 120 of which are olive trees, and 20 hectares of vines. Its chapel, its parks, and its vineyards are all carefully kept. Its olive oil and wine production are both covered by their respective high quality Protected Denomination of Origin (= AOC = AOP = “Appellation d’Origine Protégée). On the estate, grapes and olives are grown and harvested while adhering to organic farming practices and using only manual and mechanical manufacturing methods devoid of the use of chemicals.

Olive Oil PDO Baux de Provence

While the estate is highly prized for wedding celebrations, it is also known for excellence in olive oil making as being one of the first producers to produce single varietal olive oils that are highly prized by connoisseurs and gastronomic restaurants. The various olive varietals each contribute their own unique olfactory score, just like the wines. Atypical and complimentary, Bouteillan, Salonenque, Grossane, Béruguette, and Picholine are all available as monovarietals and in blends. The best thing is that, if you stop by the little shop, they will be very happy to make you taste the different olive oils. This experience will definitely change your perspective on olive oils and you will find a lot of astonishing similarities between the world of wine and the world of olive oils. Nonetheless, its wine production is not left out and does not escape the quality reputation of the estate, especially with its elegant reds.

La Table d’Estoublon’s terrace

Finally, it also offers a great restaurant, La Table d’Estoublou, that many international gourmets like to pay a visit to. The restaurant’s daily supply of produce from the Domaine’s vegetable garden serves as inspiration for the menu. A variety of aromatic plants, vegetables, fruit, berries, and flowers are available in the 24 organic vegetable patches… The chef uses all of his culinary skills to create dishes that feature seasonal ingredients, vibrant colors, and delicate scents.

 

My final word: the AOC Les-Baux-de-Provence has a bright future in front of him. If you are staying nearby and wondering which winery to visit, you can try the Chateau d’Estoublon as you may find a little something for everyone and every taste. The only downside is that its marvelous parks are not accessible to visitors due to past degradation.

 

Oray


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

The Wines of Crimea, Unraveling Their Secrets

Crimea is often mentioned in the news, but not for the right reasons. Because the Eastern European peninsula is surrounded by the Black Sea and has strategic and commercial significance, it is frequently a flashpoint for global conflict. Today, though, we’re talking about the wines of Crimea. The region might be at the heart of a political and military battle, but it has a rich vinous culture, so let’s focus on that.
We can’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Crimean wine since it’s rarely seen outside the country — all of it is consumed in the region or shipped to Russia. However, the region is among the oldest wine-producing areas in the world! Here’s what you need to know.

 

Crimea, A Quick Recap

1954, USSR Decree Transferring Crimea

The region was once an Ancient Greek colony, part of the Byzantine Empire, and briefly a Mongolian territory. Eventually, Crimea became part of the Russian Empire, which evolved into the Soviet Union after the country’s civil war of the early 20th century. In 1954, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR led by Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian Socialist Sovietic Republic. After the fall of communist Russia, Crimea became its own country before becoming part of Ukraine with a special status for Sebastopol.

The region’s wine history is not nearly as complicated. Crimea is a stone’s throw away from wine’s ancestral home, the Caucasus, between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, so wine has been part of Crimea since the beginning of time.

The Grapes

Experts credit the Ancient Greeks for bringing most of the grapes found in Crimea today, including Limnio, Athiri, and Muscat. Grapes with immense prestige in the Caucasus feel right at home in Crimea as well, such as Saperavi and Rkatsiteli. Still, the country now has significant vineyards dedicated to international varietals, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.

1985, USSR Postage Stamp: “Sobriety is the norm of life”

Despite being a historical wine region, wine efforts in Crimea are relatively young. When the area was part of the Ottoman Empire, Muslim law prohibited the production of wine. The same thing happened with Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1985 Anti-Alcoholism Laws. The Russian annexation of the peninsula as well as the current so-called “military special operation’ have also made it difficult for Crimea’s wine industry to export. Is the wine any good?

Crimean Wine

“Crimean wineries make faux Madeira and Sherry, as well”

Crimean wine is the best of two worlds. Expect old-school sweet and semi-sweet wines made with Muscat, rustic reds made with Saperavi, and modern-cut oak-aged Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Fortified wines, sometimes unlawfully labeled as Crimean Port, are relatively common, and the wines are reasonably pleasing. Crimean wineries make faux Madeira and Sherry, as well.

From afar, not everything in Crimea is as good as it seems. In terms of volume and quality, two of the most significant wine estates in the peninsula, Massandra and Novyi Svit, were both recently “nationalized” by Russia. According to an Interfax article: “After occupation of the peninsula by Russia, Massandra’s property was ‘nationalized’, actually expropriated, transferred to federal ownership – to the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, then returned to ‘the ownership of the Republic of Crimea’, respectively, there was no military need for such appropriation and transfer of property. The auction of Massandra’s assets and its purchase by a Russian company confirm the fact that the occupation administration, in addition to illegally taking possession of this property, also illegally disposes of it”. Massandra Winery alone was estimated to be worth well over 20 million euros in 2014, probably excluding its unique enoteca of one million bottles.

o The Massandra Collection

This enoteca is in fact the result of the Massandra Collection, a collection of incredible wines from around the world. It was started by the Prince Golitzin, the first winemaker who helped founding the winery in the late 19th century (he received the permission to engrave his coat of arms on Massandra’s wine bottles). Almost 10,000 bottles were added each from the start with bottles already decades old at that time. Just to give you an idea of the importance of that collection, the decision was made to evacuate it (mainly in Georgia) ahead of the German occupation during the second World War. Of course, everything was back on time for the Yalta conference, so that Roosevelt, Churchill and Staline were served with the best bottles from that collection.

Massandra Collection, Jerez de la Frontera 1775

Today, Massandra’s enoteca is still famous for some of the best and oldest wine bottles from around the world (like a 240-year-old Jerez, for instance). It is regarded by experts as a treasure of tremendous historical value that need to be kept intact.

o Massandra wines

Massandra Winery, Crimea

Located on the outskirts of Yalta, Massandra produces many sorts of wines. However, its two most famous types of wines are the Fortified wines and the Sweet Dessert Wines. These wines, especially the Sweet Dessert Wines, were highly regarded during the Soviet era and were served during diplomatic and important political meetings. Today, the Massandra winery oversees the production of many smaller satellite wineries. Its main building is mainly used for aging and bottling. The vineyards located on hills and mountains facing the Black Sea offer the best grapes to produce Sweet Dessert Wines (White Muscat of the Red Stone, Black Muscat Massandra, and White Muscat Lividia, just to name a few).

o Novyi Svet wines

Novyi Svit Winery, Crimea

The other very famous Crimean winery is Novyi Svet. Founded in 1878 by Prince Golitsyn, it produces a large variety of wines. However, it became rapidly famous for its sparkling wines. During the Russian empire, they quickly became “the” sought-after wines of the Russian aristocracy, to the point that they were served at the coronation of the last Tsar, Nicolas II, in 1896. Despite the Soviets’ efforts to eradicate all traces of Tsarist Russia, they were held in high regard by the Soviet intelligentsia. It probably saved them, but, unfortunately, made them inaccessible to many of the ‘regular’ citizens of the USSR. Facing the contradiction of communism, where the upper class had access to some luxury products while workers and peasants did not, Stalin asked Anton Frolov-Bagreev to create a process to make sparkling wines available to the masses. M. Frolov-Bagreev, a winemaker trained by Prince Lev Golitsyn, created a large-scale artificial sparkling wine through industrial use of large tanks, added coloring agents, and artificial flavors.

USSR Communication Campaign
to promote Soviet Shampanskoye

On July 2, 2021, Vladimir Putin amended the 345-FZ federal law, banning the use of the “Champagne” name on the label of sparkling wines made in the French region called: Champagne. Only Russian-produced wines can now be called Champagne (« shampanskoye »). Any bottle produced outside Russia (and Crimea) with a «shampanskoye» label will be considered a counterfeit product. As a result, you will probably find some Novyi Svet wines labeled as “Champagne”. Please note that Novyi Svet is now owned by Iouri Kovaltchouk, a powerful oligarch (sometimes nicknamed “Putin’s banker”) and close friend of Vladimir Putin.

The Bottom Line

Massandra and Novyi Svit now supply most of the wine consumed in Russia. Sadly, in history, no state-owned winery, from anywhere, has ever been recognized for its quality, which makes Crimean wine’s future uncertain.
Crimea has the ideal climate for growing premium wine grapes and the expertise to make world-class wine. What the winemakers in the area now need is good-old freedom to craft the wines they want to make with modern standards and quality-over-quantity practices. The world of wine is more competitive than ever, and Crimea can become a significant player in the future if only they could export their production worldwide. But the dust needs to settle first and the current situation has to stabilize.

 

Oray


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

Wine 101: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Wine

Do you feel like wine is a very interesting world but you just do not understand anything at all? Do you feel that it is probably too complex for you? Do you feel like a complete stranger when wine connoisseurs tell you about all those fancy aromas (blueberry, blackcurrant, leather, tar…) they find in a wine glass. How is it possible to find tar aromas in wine? Is it a good thing? Is it even drinkable? Do you feel like most Champagne are too acidic? Do you feel like most of the red wines are too tannic, too astringent…

Well, the good news is that you should not worry; everyone has been there one day, including me. You are just at the very beginning of your wine journey. To jumpstart and set a foot in the world of wine, you just need a clear and basic structure. Through this educational article, I would like to provide you with a clear and simple three-step foundation to start understanding wine. Why 3 steps? Because, as in the lyrics of the Jackson 5 song, wine is “as easy as 1-2-3, as easy as A-B-C, as easy as Do-Ré-Mi”.

 

What is it about wine? Why is it so special? The “A-B-C” of Wine

  • “A”.

“many available water sources could have made them sick for days”

Wine is a man-made product, without man, there is no wine. At their natural state, in the wild world, vines are made to climb up on trees and other vegetation in order to attain the top of the canopy. It allows it to get access to the sun and start producing fruits aiming at attracting birds and other animals that will eat its grapes to disseminate its seeds. That is really far away from the liquid you find in your bottle of wine. Probably at the very beginning men have learned to domesticate this vegetative state solely in order to grow some eatable fruits. Keeping in mind that thousands of years ago there was no running water and many available water sources could have made them sick for days, they probably quickly tried to find a reliable solution to drink a sanitized beverage. Then, grapes were turned into wine where alcohol played this sanitizing role. The first traces of wine making are considered to date back to around 4000 years B.C. That makes it a very old beverage! As in everything, men tried to perfect their skills at making it to improve its quality, to enjoy drinking it, and eventually to sell it. So wine is closely linked to our origins, civilization, history, and played a central role in our development.

  • “B”.

“wine offers two characteristics that other alcoholic beverages do not”

That being said, humans also made alcoholic beverages from other fruits (apples…), crafted beers very early and learned how to make spirits later on. All of them addressing the same sanitization need. So why is wine so special? Despite its close link to religions, especially to Christianity, wine offers two characteristics that other alcoholic beverages do not. First, it gives a wider spectrum of aromas and flavors (without needing other additives) than other beverages. Second, it has the unique ability to evolve over time and gain more complexity. Beers, due to their lower degree of alcohol need to be stored at cooler temperatures and consequently have little possibility to evolve over time. Spirits on the other end have way higher alcohol titration (not very handy if you are looking for an every day drinkable solution) which implies that it takes more time to evolve (10, 20, 30 years being the norm) than wines as their alcohol level acts as an aroma preserver. Conversely, some wines stored in glass bottles can start to show aroma evolution after 2 or 3 years but for the most part need 5 to 8 years to improve in terms of aroma complexity (10 to 15 years for some prestigious and very tannic wines).

  • “C”.

“the world of wine gives you unique access to human history”

Let’s summarize what we have learned so far: a wider array of natural aromas in the finished juice, an aroma complexity that improves faster, and a close tie to mankind’s history, civilization-building, and commerce. What else? We forgot to mention that each civilization made distinctive wines due to the different genetical profiles of their local grapes, local climates, local techniques, and so on. As such, it created a vast complexity of winemaking techniques and final results that both shaped and were shaped by local food production specialties (and food-beverage pairings). So, let’s wrap this up by saying that the world of wine gives you unique access to human history, food specialties, local habits, and much more.

 

What if I have no palate at all and I am just not able to distinguish anything in wine? The “1-2-3” of Wine

“All those fancy wine tasting notes, I just can’t recognize any of them in a wine, so I just drink it,” I’ve heard many times.If this sentence suits you, do not worry, you are not alone; everyone started there. For years, when I tasted wines, I had only one cursor: tannins. When the wines were too tannic, I found them unpleasant and harsh; when they had little tannin, I found them drinkable.

The good news is, it is very easily fixable. You just need a clear and basic structure to approach wine and start deciphering it. So below is a simple and basic three-step process to help you improve tremendously your ability to ‘read’ wine.

  • “1”.

“just incline slightly your glass of wine in front of a white surface and take a look at your wine starting from the external ring to the center or vice-versa”

Start with what you see. Is it a red, white or rosé? What is the depth of its color (opacity)? Is the color monotonous or does it show some complexity? Is it too bright? Too shallow? Does it have some hues? Is it hazy? You can learn a lot just by looking at the color, reflections… inside your wine glass. In fact, for centuries, wine merchants based their purchase orders mainly on the color of the fresh pressed juice. It still gives you a good clue on the quality to expect once you will drink it (except for the haziness criteria as a growing number of wines are unfiltered nowadays to improve their complexity so, in that case, it does not mean the presence of spoilage bacteria anymore). To make it easier for your eyes to distinguish the various colors and complexity, just incline slightly your glass of wine in front of a white surface and take a look at your wine starting from the external ring to the center or vice-versa.

  • “2”.

“Never rush, smell it a couple of times, then try to distinguish any perfume that comes out of it”

The most important part: the nose. In wine, everything starts with your nose. The more you smell before you drink your glass of wine, the more you will understand wine. The very basic mistake is for people to rush into drinking it. Never rush, smell it a couple of times, then try to distinguish any perfume that comes out of it (that is called the “first nose”). Then, swirl the wine in your glass and smell it again (that is called the “second nose”). You will see that some aromas and perfumes become more evident with your “second nose” (even when the temperature of service is horrific). This is the magic key! If you do not use your nose, you will not understand wine.

  • “3”.

“Again, do not rush into swallowing your wine right away.”

The underrated phase: the mouth. Again, do not rush into swallowing your wine right away. Leave it in your mouth for a few seconds and try to decipher the impression it gives you (warm, acidic, sugary…). Some aromas and perfumes will slowly come to your mouth. Then swallow it and see if the aromas are long-lasting (a good sign of quality) or vanish quickly. Then compare all these sensations with some serious and independent wine tasting notes you can find about the bottle you selected.

 

Everything that you are doing wrong: the “Do-Ré-Mi” of Wine

Your wine ability will make a tremendous leap after the crucial 1-2-3 steps above. But, below are some things you should really pay attention to while tasting wine, as they can really alter your experience.

  • “Do”.

“Buying the first bottle at your supermarket is probably the surest way to make the wrong choice”

Try not to pick the first wine bottle that you find at your local supermarket just because you find the label fancy, especially for your first few bottles. Just go to your local specialized wine shop and talk to one of the employees. Give your price constraints (they all have selected entry price bottles) and some of the context; they will help orient your choice. Make him speak and ask him for several suggestions, then make your choice.

Buying the first bottle at your supermarket is probably the surest way to make the wrong choice. Keep in mind that supermarkets, especially in the old world (Europe…), mainly sell wines for cooking purposes (sauces…).

  • “Ré”.

The three factors that can kill your wine are: temperature of service, wine glass, and bottle ageing.

Temperature: Too cold a bottle of red wine is the surest way to perceive no aromas. Conversely, too warm a bottle of white wine is the surest way to only feel the alcohol in your wine and destroy its perfume. By rule of thumb, for whites and rosés, a temperature of service between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius should be fine; for reds, try to serve them between 14 and 18 degrees.

“just because it is made of crystal, it does not make it any better if the shape is similar to the random plastic cup”

Wine glass: drinking wine inside a plastic cup is the worst way to discover the wine world. And just because it is made of crystal, it does not make it any better if the shape is similar to the random plastic cup. As mentioned in Step 2 above, everything starts with the nose, so you need a wine glass that will help your nose do its job. Wine glasses are way more complex technical instruments than you can imagine when it comes to tasting wine. They come in various shapes and forms, and the best glasses are not linked to their prices or materials but to their ability to reveal aromas of certain grapes (called Grape-specific glasses). That is the reason why they have this characteristic “tulip” shape. So that, when you smell it atop your glass, it helps concentrate perfumes from the wine up to your nose.

“This process makes all the charm of powerful red wines”

Bottle aging: Pay attention to the vintage year on the label. If you select a powerful red (Bordeaux or other oak-aged wines) that has been bottled very recently, it is the surest way to have very unpleasant, harsh tannins that will disappoint you. For powerful reds, just prefer a 5-to 8-year-old vintage in order for the tannins to have started polymerizing and softening. This process makes all the charm of powerful red wines as they bring more complexity in aromas (bringing what we call “tertiary aromas” such as leather, tar, vanilla, tobacco, etc., compared to “primary fruity aromas”).

  • “Mi”.

“Pay special attention to any of the following examples, especially when made just before drinking wine”

Be careful of the environment and context in which you taste wine. Often, people think about paying special attention to what food they will pair their wine with. This is a very good reflex as some foods can destroy your wine (i.e., a sweet dessert with a young fruity red wine). And vice versa, some wines can destroy your food (i.e., a powerful red with delicate fish). However, it is not enough. Pay special attention to any of the following examples, especially when made just before drinking wine: Brushing your teeth (toothpastes will leave molecules that will hinder your aroma perception); smoking cigarettes; wearing strong perfume; consuming acidic, spicy, bitter, or astringent foods…

You need a nose and palate as neutral as possible, so take some time to eat some neutral food (soft bread…) and drink water prior any wine tasting. It will help you “to reset” your palate.

Oray


Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

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Everything you should know about the winemaking region of Naoussa

Naoussa Vineyards and Mount Vermio

Naoussa was known in antiquity to be the place of birth of the God Dionysus, the god of grape-harvest and wine-making, so, as you would expect, the area has a centuries-old tradition of wine production. During the 17th century, many notable foreign travelers wrote in their journals about Naousa. Pouqueville wrote that the wine of Naoussa is one of the finest that can be found in the area of Macedonia, and Cousinery stated that the region of Naoussa is for Macedonia, what Burgundy is for France. Unfortunately, in the early 20th century, the vineyards were destroyed due to an outbreak of phylloxera. Since the 1960s, when vines were replanted, the wines of Naoussa have been revived.

 

Terroir

Location of PDO Naoussa

The vineyards of Naoussa are located in the Northern area of mainland Greece around the town of the same name on the eastern slopes of Mount Vermion (it must not to be confused with the port city of Naoussa located on Paros Island). You’ll find vines at altitudes between 150m and 350m (500-1100ft) above sea level. While Greece may be known as a warm and sunny country, there are regions in Naoussa where the climate is so cold that grapes struggle to ripen. The best spots for vineyards are on south and south-east facing slopes that get the most sunshine. The soils of the area are low-fertility and well-drained, which allow for the development of strong root systems.

Varieties

As you may have guessed already, due to these specific soil and climatic conditions, not many varieties can thrive in Naoussa, especially native Greek ones that are accustomed to warmer climates. The most popular variety cultivated in Naoussa, which makes up 95% of the total production in the area, is Xinomavro. Roditis is another indigenous variety that expresses itself well in the cold climates of the area. When it comes to international varieties, you’ll find many plantings of Syrah and Merlot. The PDO Naoussa (Protected Denomination of Origin) was established in 1971 and refers to red-dry, medium-dry and medium-sweet wines made by 100% Xinomavro.

A few words about Xinomavro

The name of the variety (pronounced k-see-noh-mav-raw) literally translates into “sour-black”, although in practice, its grape skins are not particularly rich in pigments. However, Xinomavro surprises with its performance and versatile character, offering reds, dynamic rosés, aromatic sparkling wines, and even sweet ones.

“have rightfully given it the title “Greek Nebbiolo”

“Difficult” and demanding, Xinomavro needs suitable terroir, increased cultivation care, low yields, and ideal weather conditions to unfold its greatness. Due to its difficulty when it comes to cultivation, it has been compared to Pinot Noir, another notoriously demanding variety. However, you might find that Xinomavro is more reminiscent of the great variety of Piedmont, Nebbiolo, and people tend to confuse them during blind wine tastings. The ruby ​​color, the magical bouquet, which includes aromas from violets to olive pulp and from tomato to tobacco and gooseberries, the high-grade, full acidity mouth, and the wild tannins, have rightfully given it the title “Greek Nebbiolo”. This charismatic variety justly holds a high position in the hierarchy of Greek varieties. With its uniqueness, it promises to offer powerful experiences to every true wine enthusiast, convincing them from the first sip that they are in front of something special.

Food Pairings with Xinomavro

“Aged versions demand complexity as well as finesse”

Reds go well with dishes that have tomatoes in them, such as braised veal and stew. They are also an excellent pair for stews.

Aged versions demand complexity as well as finesse: game dishes such as wild boar with dried plums, wild mushroom and truffle dishes such as risotto, and complex aged cheeses. Definitely avoid fish, as the tannins do not help at all and the result is a strong “fishy” and metallic taste.

The rosés are excellent with pasta, red sauce, stewed beans, but also with prawns.

The whites have a nice vegetality and acidity that would suit a “fishy” fricassee, but also steamed mussels, squid stuffed with grilled cheese, and chicken.

The parkling Xinomavro is a totally different category: from scallops to a rich caccio e pepe pasta, the combination will be enchanting.

 

Naoussa estates you should know

ESTATE CHRISOHOOU
Naoussa, Estate Chrisohoou, 100% Xinomavro

Four kilometers outside of Naoussa lies the area of ​​Strandza. There, on the south-eastern slopes of Vermio, at an altitude of 250 meters above sea level, are the Chrisohoou vineyards and the winery. The estate has a long history in winemaking, as they produced their first products in 1965,and haven’t stopped since. Their red wine from 100% Xinomavro labeled as “Naoussa Chrisohoou” perfectly showcases the character of the variety. It shows delicate aromas of red fruit, tomato, and olive paste that blend perfectly with the old wood. Fine and light, with soft but aggressive tannins and excellent balance.

DOMAINE KARYDAS
Ktima Karydas Single Label

Domaine Karydas (Ktima Karydas) is a small, boutique winery, created in 1990 by Konstantinos Karydas in the Gastra region, outside of Naoussa. The winery focuses on Xinomavro and, for 30 years now, the Karydas family has chosen to produce only one single label (named Domaine Karydas Xinomavro). All of their efforts focus on the quality of this one wine, so it comes as no surprise that Karydas is a household name in Noussa. Their wine has gained the attention of wine lovers all over the world, and now 50% of the bottles are sold in the U.S., the U.K. and France.

THYMIOPOULOS VINEYARDS
Xinomavro Nature

Thymiopoulos Vineyards is a winery that belongs to the Thymiopoulos family, which has been involved in agriculture and grape-growing in the village of Trilofos for generations. Apostolos Thymiopoulos, the man behind the winery, truly believes in sustainable viticulture and minimum intervention during the winemaking process. The winery produces 10 different expressions of Xinomavro, trying to reveal every aspect of the variety. Thymiopoulos winery makes the “Xinomavro Nature”, which is the purest, and at the same time, most typical expression of the beloved red variety!

KELESIDIS ESTATE

The winery and vineyard of Kelesidis Estate are located in the heart of the winemaking region of Naoussa. The aim of the Kelesidis family is to create wines made from organic grapes that will stand out for their characteristics and unique flavor. Arothymies by Kelesidis Estate is a complex red wine made from Xinomavro, blended with Syrah and Merlot, proving that these varieties can not only coexist but blend harmoniously and create an amazing silky and smooth wine.

 

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

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!

None of this content has been sponsored

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

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