Xinomavro from Naoussa in northern Greece dominated the rest of the tasting. It was fascinating to compare the young with the aged, showing the value and promise of the range of a wine. Xinomavro, meaning “sour or acid black”, makes rich, tannic wines with superb aging potential. It has a complex, aromatic character, displaying red fruit, tomatoes, and olives. Add to that wood aging aromas of spice, dried prunes, tobacco, and nuts, throw in the deep red color, strong tannins, high acidity, and full body, it is reminiscent of Barolo or Bordeaux.
Here are some of my highlights, from young to aged:
The 2012 Thymiopoulos “Young Vines” Xinomavro Naoussa is an excellent value, selling for $14 at K & L Wines, it drinks like a Cru Beaujolais, cherry and raspberry fruit, fresh acidity, savory tomato character, and light tannins. Best served with a light chill, the fruit is accented along with the wine’s herbal kick.
The 2011 Thymiopoulos “Uranos” Xinomavro Naoussa is a medium bodied wine, with aromas of strawberries, cranberries, leather, and Kalamata olive, it has a concentrated palate of cherry and raspberry, high acidity, and a long spicy finish. It might need some time to knock off some of the intense edges, but very promising.
The 2010 Kokkinos Xinomavro Naoussa is a well balanced wine, juicy fruit(red cherry and pomegranate), ripe tannins, and integrated oak. It’s still young, but with a little decant, it’s impressive with it’s quality.
The 2008 Naoussea Xinomavro “The Lady of Naoussa” is a round wine, with red fruit, spice, coffee, and cocoa notes, smooth tannins, and a long finish. With delicate flavors and lively acidity, and selling for $20, this single vineyard wine from Domaine Foundi is a great dinner companion.
The 2007 Foundi Estate Xinomavro, another single vineyard Domaine Foundi wine, has a rich bouquet of red fruit, spice, black olive, and oak, and with a limited production and the longer aging, it has developed a complex character, yet retained it’s acidity.
The 2006 Kelesidi Merhali Xinomavro Naoussa was my favorite of the tasting. It won the 2012 Berlin Silver trophy, and rightly so! It’s elegant, savory, earthy, a complex wine with smooth tannins. Truly world-class! Fragrant, mouth-filling, with pure Xinomavro character, red and black fruit, spice, tomato and olive, and a subtle herbal tinge, this distinctive wine deserves a place of honor at your dinner table.
Greek wines are the wave of the future, and will start popping up on wine shop shelves soon, as they are great values, food-friendly, and indescribably delicious. The quality of these wines compared to their price is unbelievable, a surprise in the world wine arena. Most of the wines came in or under $20, except for a few of the older bottlings that were slightly higher, but still under $30. K & L Wines in Hollywood currently has a good selection of Greek wines, as does Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa.