Greek Rosés of Xinomavro

 

Often compared to Nebbiolo grown in Italy’s Piedmont, Greece’s Xinomavro is one of southern Europe’s most noble varieties.  As discussed below, it’s particularly well suited for the making of rosé, and we tasted several excellent rosés during our recent visit to Greece.  They are made by some of Greece’s best-known wineries—e.g., Alpha Estate, Boutari, Gerovassiliou, Kir-Yanni, and Voyatzi, among others.  Read our report on The Wines of Greece: Macedonia & Thrace for more reviews of Xinomavro wines.

Grown mostly in Northern Greece, especially Macedonia, Xinomavro’s high acidity and genetically low color make it perfect for rosé.  A Xinomavro rosé also avoids the harsh tannins that can come with extended maceration for making red wines from the variety.  The best Xinomavro rosés come from the best known appellations—Amyndeon, Drama, Imathia, and Naoussa.

The Xinomavro rosés reviewed here are predominantly made direct press, although some very good ones are also made saignée.  Importers and prices in the US are given when known.

Alpha Estate’s 90 Year Old, Ungrafted Xinomavro Vineyard @drw

The Wines

Alpha Estate 2021 Rosé Hedgehog Single Vineyard PDO Amyndeon ($29) 90  Pale blush color with a sweet, floral nose. Clean and crisp on the attack; soft, flowery, and feminine on the palate, finishing with good length. All Xinomavro made saignée method     with 3 months on the lees in stainless steel. Angelos Latrides is the winemaker. pH 3.30, 1.5 g/L RS, 13.5% alc.  Importer: Diamond

Haroula Spinthiropoulous

Argatia 2021 Horis Xinomavro Rosé PGI Macedonia (Imathia) 90  Medium pink color. The nose shows strawberry fruit along with wild herbs. There’s good depth of flavor on the palate and zingy acidity. Half the fruit was harvested early and direct pressed and half later made saignée method, all fermented with indigenous yeasts. pH 3.15  The winemaker is Dr. Haroula Spinthiropoulous, who has been instrumental in clonal research of Xinomavro. Importer: Salveto Imports.

Winemaker Vasilis Georgiou @drw

Boutari 2021 Dianthos Xinomavro Rosé PGI Imathia 92  One of the best rosés tasted on our trip, this wine is made from dry farmed, high elevation vineyards in Naoussa. Starbright orange copper color with fresh red fruit and savory aromas. Silky on the attack, the very flavorful palate reveals notes of blood orange, red berries and cherries. Superbly balanced. The winemaker is Vasilis Georgiou.   Importer: Celina Imports

Dio Fili 2020 Xinomavro Rose Siatista ($14) 90  This rose is a blend of 70% Xinomavro and 30% Mochomavro. Medium pink in color. Sweet red berry and stone fruit on the nose. Slightly sweet on the attack with a candied palate and a long finish.  Importer: Dionysus

Gerovassiliou 2021 Xinomavro Rosé PGI Epanomi 91 Pale pink and showing light berry aromas. Made from a parcel cultivated for rosé and direct pressed, this is a refined rosé with a crisp attack, bright acidity, and very light red berry flavors. Mouthfilling and broad on the palate, finishing clean and mineral-like.  Winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou is one of Greece’s most highly respected pioneering, modern vignerons.  Epanomi is located just outside the city of Thessolaniki. 13.5% alc.  Importer: Cava Spiliadis

Kir-Yanni Sparkling Rosés @drw

Kir-Yianni 2021 Akakies Rosé PDO Amyndeon 89  Medium pink color. This all Xinomavro rosé is made in an easy drinking, fruity style. There’s plenty of bright, sweet red berry fruit and good acidity. The grapes spend 8 hours on the skins. 1.9 g/L RS, pH 3.24, 13% alc.  Kir-Yianni is considered one of Greece’s great wine estates. The winemaker is Stelios Boutaris, assisted by enologist Antonis Kiosseoglou.  Kir-Yanni 2021 L’Esprit du Lac Vielles Vignes PDO Amyndeon 91  Blush pink, this all Xinomavro rosé has a bright, cherry inflected nose. It’s clean and crisp on the attack with significant purity and freshness of light cherry fruit on the palate. Finishes bright and crisp. Made direct press. 13.5% alc.   Kir-Yanni NV Scaperdas Frères Cuvée Exceptionelle Brut Rosé PDO Amyndeon 92/1  Made using the traditional method from the 2018 vintage of Xinomavro. Very fragrant with leesy orange scents and bright and fresh on the palate with notes of toasted grain and hints of citrus. Very dry and unique, this sparkler is an original. 12% alc.  Importer: Diamond

Thymiopoulos Vineyards 2020 Rose de Xinomavro Naoussa ($24) 92 This rose is medium reddish pink and offers aromas of orange peel, honey, red berry, and herbs. It reveals hints of red berry fruit with savory notes on the palate with good depth. A substantial rose with a red fruit core, finishing dry. A rosé meant for food.  Winemaker Apostolos Thymiopoulos makes up to ten different cuvées of Xinomavro.  Importer: Athenee

Voyatzi 2021 Rosé PGI Velvendo 90  An 80/20 blend of Xinomavro and Tsapournakos (the local name for Cabernet Franc), this rosé has a medium salmon copper hue and a fresh, red berry nose. It’s full in the mouth and soft on the palate with plenty of fresh red fruit flavor and a medium long finish.  Sourced from vineyards at 320-370m altitude with limestone soils.  13.5% alc.  This is the private label of Yiannis Voyatzi who is the chief enologist for Kir-Yianni.   Importer: Celina

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