Body: Medium to full
Tannin: Medium to high
Acidity: Medium to high
Age: With relatively high acidity and tannin these wines require up to five years to achieve balance and can improve for a further ten.
Other: Name is also spelt Xynomavro.
Xinomavro (ZEE-NO-mav-row) is a native Greek varietal of great quality and class that produces the finest red wines of this ancient wine producing country. These wines can compete with many of the world’s best and are often compared to Nebbiolo (Barolo), which produces some of Italy’s most revered red wines.
It is the country’s most planted red grape variety and is grown all across northern Greece and particularly in the province of Macedonia and its two prestigious wine regions of Naoussa and Goumenissa. Of these two regions, Naoussa is considerably more important and all the Xinomavro produced there are pure varietal wines (made from 100% Xinomavro).
The grape’s name translates as “sour black” and in youth the wines can be bitter with high acidity and harsh tannins. However, these same properties ensure the wines age well and they generally need up to five years to develop a balanced structure. Many can continue to mature and evolve for a further period of ten years.
Xinomavro is a late ripening grape that only produces its best fruit in ideal climatic conditions, so quality can vary between vintages. It is also a particularly difficult grape to grow and requires considerable skill from the winemaker if it is to realise its potential. But when it does, mature wines from good producers show great elegance and complexity.
Aromas of red and blackfruits are accompanied by characteristic tomato and olive fragrances as the wines mature, followed by flavors of plum, cherry, raspberry, fig, tapenade, earth and spice. With age, additional flavors of leather, licorice and clove can evolve. The best wines will benefit from decanting for an hour before serving.
Greek wine production has gone through a revolution in recent decades and continues to develop and improve. As it does so, native varieties like Xinomavro are revealing their true qualities and international appeal. Experimentation is also taking place and some blends featuring Xinomavro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are showing great promise.
As Greek wines are still not widely available you will have to seek them out, but your effort will be well rewarded.
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