Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Vineyards of Naoussa & Xinomavro, the noblest grape of the Greek North

The Protected Designation of Origin Naoussa (PDO Naoussa), reflecting the lush and varied vineyards of Naoussa, takes its name from the eponymous city, though several other communes are encompassed in the appellation. The wines of PDO Naoussa are 100% Xinomavro by law, and always red. In general, they are sturdy, tannic wines in youth and capable of long ageing. They are the most full-bodied of the Xinomavro appellations and offer a dazzling display of aromatic complexity, spanning the spectrum of the variety’s aromatic potential.
The lush and varied vineyards of Naoussa sit between 150 and 450m elevation and receive sufficient rainfall in most vintages to make irrigation unnecessary. Detailed soils analysis has been done, revealing significant differences within the region and at least 25 different soil types (of which 5 main categories have been established). The various expressions of the lush and varied vineyards of Naoussa arising in these sub-regions are already well known to growers in Naoussa, and discussions about officially recognizing them are underway, though for the moment the more tannic expression of the wines from the commune of Gastra, the softness of Trilofos, or the freshness and perfume of Yiannakohori for example, remain deep insider’s knowledge.

Xinomavro-Naoussa is unquestionably an intriguing, noble grape. The trouble is, it’s not an easy variety to work with, because it’s intricate. Unlike, say cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay that can grow just about everywhere and make at least decent quality wine, Xinomavro-Naoussa/Amynteo is highly sensitive to its environment. Like pinot noir, it reacts very differently in different terroirs. Xinomavro-Naoussa/Amynteo can be overly vigorous or struggle, depending where it’s grown. Winemaking and ageing need to be carefully considered as they can have a dramatic effect on the finished wine. In other words, it’s not easy to get Xinomavro-Naoussa/Amynteo right. But, as an intriguing, noble grape when it is right, it’s more than worth the trouble.

Xinomavro-Naoussa has been the subject of the most in-depth research of all the indigenous Greek varieties. More than twenty years of on-going studies have given winemakers the information they need to make consistently great wine from an intriguing, noble grape. And as the results of the research come fully to fruition, some of the traditional characteristics of Xinomavro-Naoussa will have surely have to be reconsidered. Laboratory studies of Xinomavro-Naoussa reveal what can easily be detected when tasting: Xinomavro-Naoussa is aromatically rich and complex, and particularly savory.

 Aromas recall medicinal herbs, clove, dried flowers/rose petals, pot-pourri, tobacco, tar, walnut, olive, sun-dried tomato and brown spice. Fruity aromas are often a secondary feature, with red berries (strawberry, cherry, raspberry) predominant, as well as kirsch and dried fruit (prunes, raisins) filling in the profile and adding complexity. All things considered, this is an aromatically well-endowed intriguing, noble grape. The profile of Xinomavro-Naoussa reflects its name; xino-mavro means literally “acid-black”. But while juicy acidity remains a standard feature of this intriguing, noble grape, the “black” part is a bit misleading. Traditional wines are invariably pale garnet-red in color, more like traditional pinot noir or Νebbiolo. But some of the new generation wines of Xinomavro-Naoussa may yet live up to the name mavro (black) again. These wines are bright and much deeper red in color. In any case, the wines of this intriguing, noble grape, are well-structured, firm, dense and vibrant.
Xinomavro is also cultivated in other areas of Northern Greece, such as Goumenissa, Rapsani  & Amynteon where it is moslty blended with  other indigenous grape varieties ( Negoska, Krassato, Stavroto).
texts taken from "the new wines of Greece"

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