Ktima Kir-Yianni: Raising the Bar for Greek Wines

Ktima Kir-Yianni is one of Greece’s finest wine estates. We recently tasted its wine portfolio in preparation for our forthcoming report The Wines of Greece: Macedonia and Thrace.  More articles on Greek wine are forthcoming on our blog, and additional reports will cover other wine regions of Greece.

Ktima Kir-Yianni was founded in 1997 by Yannis Boutaris (pictured above) of the legendary Boutaris family, which began bottling wine in Macedonia in 1879. From its inception, Kir-Yanni has been guided by a desire for innovation, respect for tradition, and high-quality winemaking at affordable prices.  Kir-Yianni has carried out extensive research and experimentation with different clones and new vineyard sites to improve the quality of its wine, especially for Xinomavro. It has also led regional producers in white wine making with both international and indigenous varieties. Roditis, Assyrtiko and even Gewürztraminer have created a new and enthusiastic reputation for quality white wine from northern Greece.

Today, a new generation manages Kir-Yianni.  Yannis’ son Stelios Boutaris (pictured right), an economist by training, serves as General Manager,  and  Mihalis Boutaris (left), a graduate in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, is responsible for the estate’s research and business development.  Chief Enologist  Antonis Kioseoglou is in charge of  winemaking.

Ktima Kir-Yianni has two vineyards. The principal one is Gianakohori, consisting of 50 ha on the east slopes of Mount Vermion at 280-330m elevation in Naousa. The soils are mostly clay with sand layered over marine limestone seabed rock.  Initially planted to Xinomavro, Gianakohori has several indigenous and international red varieties, including Syrah and Merlot. The vineyard is divided into 32 separately cultivated parcels planted on a northeast-facing exposures up to 320m. A second vineyard of 20 hectares devoted to white varieties was planted in 1970 on the highlands to the west of Mt. Vermion in Amyndeo. One of the surprises from these new plantings is a delicious, dry sparkling brut rosé made from Xinomavro.

Kir-Yianni has aggressively marketed internationally and today exports roughly 30% of its production, primarily in Europe and the US.  However,  it has been developing other markets as well.  For example, it has led the way to  Greater China and Asia and the Pacific, establishing a pilot vineyard in Tianshui , Gansu Province.  There is little doubt that Kir-Yanni will continue to increase its international sales, aided in part by its purchase of Sigalas, an outstanding Santorini winery. It already exports 85% of its production of Ramista to the US market. Current production is approximately 20 thousand cases.  The US Importer is Diamond Wine Imports.

Kir-Yianni Vineyards in Naoussa

Tasting Notes

Kir-Yianni 2019 Paranga Roditis-Malagouzia Macedonia($18) 90  This blend of 80% Roditis and 20% Malagouzia displays a platinum-green gold color and a strong, distinctive lemon verbena, citrus and white pepper bouquet with fresh  herbal accents.  It is medium-bodied and has a strong glycerin-rich mid palate with moderate acidity and green papaya like fruit flavors with a slightly saline, refreshing green apple finish.  Kir-Yianni 2020 Assyrtiko Amyndeo ($22) 91  The 2020 Assyrtiko displays a citrus nose with hints of clementine and white peach.   It is bright and fresh on the palate and mouth filling.  It has good length, is well balanced, and has a very pleasant fruit-rich finish. Kir- Yianni 2017 Samaropetra Sauvignon Blanc Florina ($17) 90  Mature gold green. Estate fruit is tank fermented and aged 4 months on the fine lees before bottling. Mature, discrete capsicum-jalapeño, white grapefruit pith, and pea shoot bouquet followed by moderate full-bodied flavors and depth of fruit on the palate. Shows a lot of juicy citrus-herbal flavors balanced by good acidity and overt pepperiness on the finish. Kir-Yianni NV Paranga Sparkling Wine Lot 17819 Amyndeo ($21) 88  Medium intense yellow gold. Exuberant perlage of medium size bubbles with a slightly nutty, faintly yeasty, green tree fruit and pear bouquet.  Broad flavors with lots of golden apple fruit with notable ripe pear accents and a hint of sweetness that balances the acidity.  A blend of Xinomavro, Chardonnay and Muscat that’s very easy to drink. Aged 5 months sur lie. 20 g/l RS.  Kir-Yianni 2020 Akakies Sparkling Rosé Sec Lot 19621 Amyndeo ($25) 91 Lovely vibrant cherry/blood orange color. Strong, medium fine perlage with an overt, blood orange, red currant and fresh cherry bouquet. Fruit driven with a crisp fresh vibrant mousse. Lovely fresh and hard-to-resist zesty flavors of cherry, raspberry and orange with vibrant acidity. An ideal rosé fizz made of 100% Xinomavro aged sur lie for three months; crisp yet fruity with the finish more dry and appetizing than sweet. 19 g/l RS. Great value.  Kir-Yianni 2018 Naoussa ($22) 91  The 2018 Naoussa offers herbal, loamy scents with a base of dark plum and berries. It is earthy in character on the palate with medium plus density. Quite silky again with slightly dry tannins but with good length and purity on the finish.   Kir-Yianni 2017 Ramnista Xinomavro Naoussa ($35) 93  This single vineyard Xinomavro displays a complex  bouquet showing dark red fruit and briar and toasted oak notes.  It has a refined mouth feel with freshness and integrated flavors of fruit, spice and herbs. Mouth filling with fine tannins and excellent balance. Fermented in large oak open top tanks with regular punchdowns followed by 16 months aging in a mix of 25-30% new, 225L and 500L American and French oak barrels.  A savory wine with real character and capable of aging gracefully for 5-7 years or more.  Kir-Yianni 2016 Ramnista Xinomavro Naoussa ($30) 93 Dense ruby-garnet color. Rich, autumnal bouquet of dried dark cherry, anise, mint, and coffee with earthy loam accents, both typical and attractively intense. Medium-full body with rich flavors of coffee, bitter chocolate, dark dried cherry, and some balsamic.   Well integrated, dense mid-palate with a moderately chewy finish A very fine wine.  Sourced from a mix of older and younger southeast facing blocks at 280-330m.   Kir-Yianni 2019 Paranga Red Macedonia ($19) 87  This blend of 50% Merlot and 25% each of Syrah and Xinomavro displays a medium  garnet ruby color and is moderately  earthy  with dark black cherry aromas and notes of tobacco, dried fruit and discrete mint-camphor accents.  Light tannins and a leafy, autumnal finish. Not complex but tasty and easy to drink with hints of black pepper and graphite. Kir-Yianni 2016 Yianakohori Hills Imathia ($21) 91 A blend of 50% Xinomavro, 30% Merlot and 20% Syrah aged 14 months in a mix of used French oak barrels and larger casks. Medium dark ruby with garnet reflex showing aromas of dark black plum, fig, and autumnal earth with black pepper and tea-like notes adding depth. Medium full bodied with rich flavors of dark cherry, licorice, leather and hints of oak- coffee. The tannins are moderately rich and velvety, with lower acidity giving a rich-textured mouth feel and substantial weight on the finish.  Kir-Yianni 2018 Naoussa Cuvée Villages Xinomavro Naoussa ($21) 89   From selected blocks at the Yianakohori Estate. Roughly one third of the wine ferments in open top tanks with pigeage.  Matured in 25% new French and American oak, about 25% 500L casks. Light ruby garnet color, similar to Barolo, but with a little orange at rim. Inviting, earthy-cigar tobacco, black tea, and cooked strawberry bouquet. Medium bodied with elegant flavors and fine if moderately firm tannins distinguish this true to type wine. Slightly minty with good acidity and a graceful finish. Not especially rich or long but will certainly improve and integrate further over the next 2-4 years. Good mid-weight wine.

 

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