The most exciting part about my journey of discovering wines has been getting to taste varietals I’d never heard of. Take Xinomavro, for example. The name itself is intriguing enough to make me want to explore.
Xinomavro is the aristocratic black grape of Greece. It means “acid black” and it produces impressive wines when well made.
Like all the other Greek wines I’ve been writing about, I discovered Xinomavro through Markus Stolz, whom I consider to be the guru of Greek wines. He has dedicated an entire section of his blog to Xinomavro. It’s well worth dipping into.
Apostolos Thimiopoulos is the gifted young winemaker of family-owned Thimiopoulos Vineyards. In a few short years he has managed to produce wines that have won international acclaim. As he told Markus in this interview, Apostolos strongly believes that Naoussa, the small, highly reputed region in Macedonia, Northern Greece, where his vineyards are located, is blessed with extraordinary terroir.
His 2007 Uranos certainly is magnificent proof of that claim.
Producer: Thimiopoulos Vineyards
Grapes: 100% Xinomavro
Filter and decant for 2 hours before serving.
It only takes getting your nose near the glass to get a whiff of the powerful dark cherry and black currant aromas of the Uranos. But get a little closer, and suddenly a profusion of aromas soar: spice, tobacco, earth, unsweetened chocolate, black olives. It’s utterly seductive.
After swirling and sniffing for some time, your nostrils are filled with all the beautiful aromas the wine exudes – and yet there’s still more to discover when you taste it. Bone-dry, with good acidity, a surprisingly not-too-full body, and potent, slightly mouth-drying tannins, the wine is astonishingly flavorful. The dark fruit flavors instantly fill your mouth while notes of leather, cedar, black pepper and chalky minerality follow.
While the 2007 Uranos is certainly bold, it’s also refined, not too heavy, and beautifully balanced. It would be right at home with lamb, grilled foods or any kind of mushroom dish, but the body of the wine made me crave serving something lighter with it.
So I poured it with this pan bagnat with grilled peppers and basil vinaigrette. I was thrilled with the results. The olives, capers and smoky grilled peppers in the sandwich were just right with the savory elements and tobacco notes in the wine. And as anticipated, the weight of the wine didn’t overwhelm the dish.
I wonder how this wine will taste in ten years. It should be amazing. The tannins will have softened and the flavors expanded. So I’ve stashed away two bottles. I just hope I have the discipline to wait that long before I open one of them!
Where to buy Greek wines
In the US: Astor Wines in New York City has a wonderful selection of Greek wines. They ship around the country. My advice is to start with any of the wines above $12.
Grand Wine & Liquor in Astoria, New York also carries many Greek wines. Not all are listed on their site, so call the store directly at (718) 728-2520. They ship!
In Europe: 600 Bottles sells outstanding Greek wines online.
Where to taste Greek wines
One of the best ways to taste Greek wines is in restaurants. In New York, Sommelier Michael Madrigale of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud features many superb Greek wines on his wine lists, including vintages available nowhere else. Molyvos has an outstanding wine list offering wines from every part of Greece. Snack Taverna has a small but excellent wine list. They also offer wines by the glass.
Next time you see a Greek wine on a restaurant’s wine list, don’t be shy, try it – there’s much to discover and enjoy!