Friday, February 24, 2012

Plonk By Monks?

Do you see what I see?
Few things in this world would beat witnessing the Lord Almighty, Virgin Mary or any of the Apostles emerge sublime and immaculate from the thick and creamy head of a rich Trappist Belgian beer. Doubters might argue you suffered from the hallucinatory effects of one too many Tripels, but sipping on anything lovingly crafted by monks is bound to involve a spiritual awakening of sorts. Soon enough I hope to land in Brussels, hand the keys to the rental car over to The Wife, Ph.D., and drink my way through the six Trappist monasteries in search of apparitions and that elusive case of Westvleteren. Until then, I am content to be sea-locked and chasing visions of heaven in the tears of a wine glass.

There's only one Cypriot winery that has enough clout with God to offer me a religious experience. Near the village of Panagia in Pafos, the Holy Virgin of Chrysorroyiatissa Monastery has been producing wine for more than two centuries. According to Yiannos Constantinou's Cyprus Wine Guide,
"...in September 1984...winemaking at the monastery was really modernized, when the present Abbot Dionysios decided to start operating the winery again. This was the first attempt to set up a regional winery that would restrict its activities to producing limited quantities of wine, in contrast to the large wine factories that dominated wine-production in Cyprus at the time. Today, Chrysorroyiatissa winery turns out around one hundred and fifty thousand bottles of wine annually, produced from grapes grown on some 25 hectares of its own vineyards planted with both local (Xynisteri, Mavro, Maratheftiko, Ofthalmo) as well as imported (Mataro, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling) grape varieties. The winery plans to treble its acreage of vineyards in the next few years."
2009 Monastiri, a Holy Blend.
The monastery is probably best known for its two table wines, Ayios Andronicos, a white wine made of Xynisteri and meant to be consumed young, and Ayios Elias, a simple red quaff of local varieties. Both are decent wines but neither of them had me seeing things. Lo and behold, the Parents-in-Law, after a recent weekend peregrination to the monastery to (I presume) cleanse all sins, brought me a bottle of 2009 Monastiri, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz blend I had no clue the monks made. Alas, let's just say I am still desperately seeking Savior.

2009 Chrysorroyiatissa Monastiri (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz) - Satisfying aroma marked by blackberries, plum, black pepper, cloves and a light hint of vanilla and chocolate. To the palate, harsh tannins and a noticeable spike in the alcohol that smoothed out once the wine was matched with food and had enough time to breathe. Black fruit predominates in a blend that lacked some flavor in the mid-palate and ultimately failed to pack a punch. 83/100.

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