Happy Xinomavro Day! Yesterday, that is – I’m a day late on this.
Greek wines are fantastic and often very overlooked in this part of the world – which is why they can often be excellent values. Xinomavro is one of the main red grapes indigenous to Greece. It’s a bit fickle, requiring careful attention to tone down its otherwise harsh tannins and dental enamel-stripping acidity. When done well, it produces delicious wines with amazing structure and flavours that are absolutely perfect with Greek food (as is often true of classic wine and food pairings).
The 2012 Grande Reserve from Boutari – one of Greece’s largest wineries – is an excellent introduction to Xinomavro. It’s also got over 8 years of bottle age and for $25, that’s a pretty good deal for a wine of this quality.
The aromas are all warming dried fruit (figs and raisins) with an underpinning of intriguing orange peel and black olive skin. On the palate it is very tart and tannic, with overtones of pure wood – not vanilla oak or toasty spice or anything like that; it’s woody in the truest sense, like licking a raw barrel. In a good way. It finishes with tart cranberry, dry spice tannin and a wash of fresh acidity.
Just in case that description sounds a little weird or off-putting, I’ll also add that this wine is very good. I adore it, actually – and it is absolutely dynamite with Greek food. This is on the menu at Yianni’s and over the past few months I’ve knocked back a few bottles while noshing on a Greek feast from there. It even pairs well with hummus and Kalamata olives, two very tricky foods to match with food. This is a perfect match with any Greek dish, whether it’s a starter of dolmades and keftedes or a long-braised shoulder of lamb.
Name: Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa
Region: Naoussa, Greece
Grape: 100% Xinomavro
Taste: dried figs, raisins, orange peel, cranberry, wood
Texture: dry spice, tart cranberry and a fresh wash of acidity to finish
Rating: 5 dolmades out of 5