Beyond Xinomavro: Greek Wine discoveries in Naoussa and Amyndeon

Greek Wine
A trip to Greece can be a wine lovers paradise. With over 300 different varietals one always finds something new whether it be a Greek wine or appellation. Recently I made some new Greek wine discoveries while traveling in Macedonia.

The emphases of these travels were the wines of Naoussa and the signature grape of the area, Xinomavro. Looking beyond, one discovers some other excellent alternatives. Here are a several favorites.

Preknadi

A quiet secret for foreigners is a local grape that is made into a delicious white wine known as Preknadi. This grape was plagued by phylloxera and is now making a comeback. The name comes from the Greek word Prekniaris, which means freckle-faced. The skin of this grape is spotted. It is an elegant wine that hopefully will soon come to the United States.

At Chrisohoou, a boutique winery in the center of the Naoussa appellation, the wine is called Prekniariko. The grapes ferment in the barrel, and the wine has aromas of gardenia with flavors of banana and guava.

Domaine Diamantakos, another small family owned winery also specializes in the Preknadi. Here Preknadi has a more viscous quality, which is unusual since this wine sees no oak. The wine is sweet on the mouth and mid palate. It has nice citrus flavors with acidity and minerality. It is definitely a fruity wine.

Diamantakos Preknadi

Diamantakos Preknadi

Naoussa and Amyndeon

The Naoussa wine region lies in a valley along the foothills of the eastern slopes of Mount Vermion. The western side of the slopes is Amyndeon, known as the coldest winemaking region in Greece. Four lakes in the region help balance out the extreme climate variations of the area. The soils are very poor and sandy but deliver wines that are crisp and highly aromatic.

Kir-Yianni, one of the largest wineries in the area produces wines in both Naoussa and Amyndeon. The vineyards in Amyndeon reside near Lake Vegoritis.

One of Kir-Yianni’s most outstanding wines from the Amyndeon region is a sparkling Rosé called Akakies. The luscious bright cherry color entices one to gravitate towards this sparkling wine. Created in the Charmat method from the Xinomavro grape. The wine exuded flavors and aromas of strawberries and cherries with a little candy mixed in.

Kir-Yianni Akakies Sparkling Wine

Kir-Yianni Akakies Sparkling Wine

Although not a Greek varietal, Kir-Yianni experimented with combining a blend of Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. One gets the wonderful florals of the Gewürztraminer in a very subtle way. Honeysuckle and white flowers accent the peach and apricot flavors of the Chardonnay. Half of the Chardonnay ages in oak. This wine might be called a Yin Yang wine because there is a very feminine side to it while at the same time there is some masculinity.

There are many other Greek varietals grown in these two areas including Roditis, Malagouzia, and Assyrtiko.

White Wine Blends

Three interesting white wine blends are:

The Kir-Yianni Paranga Petra a blend of Roditis and Malagouzia with its floral, lemon and tropical flavors.

Dalamara’s Kapnistos a blend of Malagouzia, Assyrtiko, and Roditis that ages in oak for 12 months. The oak brings out the honey flavors that are enhanced by hints of dried fruits.

Dalamara Kapnistos

Dalamara Kapnistos

The Orizontes from Elinos Vineyards is a blend of Preknadi and Roditis. With floral aromas, the one finds a refreshing yet balanced wine that one could sip over an entire afternoon.

Elinos Vineyards Orizonte

Elinos Vineyards Orizonte

The selections of grape varieties are so vast in Greece that these are just a few wines to entice the palate to explore further Greek wine, grape varietals and various regions of Greece.