Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Three for Monday #3

* Excellent piece in The Jerusalem Post on wine production in the eastern Mediterranean with a focus on countries neighboring Israel. Two paragraphs are dedicated to Cyprus, and Sodap Kamanterena, Vlassides, Zambartas and Kyperounda are mentioned.

* A map of Santorini with the location of all of its wineries courtesy of Santorini Wine Adventure!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Well, Not All of Us Age Like Clooney

A week ago, My Zolpidem Supplier, The Wife, Ph.D., and I met at Vinocultura for Whine On The Rocks' second ever vertical tasting. Our first was a roughshod affair on a balcony in Limassol involving various excellent vintages of Domaine Vlassides Cabernet Sauvignon. This one, instead, exuded class—multiple sparkling glasses, an oenologist as guide, spittoons, a crowd of thirty-plus oenophiles, and wines for sale. What's rather interesting was the wine selected for the vertical, Kyperounda Winery's Petritis, made of the indigenous grape Xynisteri, which (for all intent and purposes) is meant to be consumed within a year or two of release. Unlike other Xynisteris, though, Petritis "spends 6 months in stainless steel, 3 months in oak barrels and 6 months on the lees," a process that certainly extends its lifetime as evinced from the vertical. Besides this specific choice in wine-making, Kyperounda also boasts of south-facing, high-altitude (roughly 1,400 meters above sea level!) vineyards in an area with one of the lowest relative humidity levels on the island.

Kyperounda oenologist, Minas Mina, who was onsite to lead us through the tasting and answer our questions, also commented briefly on Maratheftiko, the big-berried, thin-skinned, pain-in-the-ass-to-grow variety that most experts claim is the most promising grape on The Rock. He ascertained that its production is extremely difficult, and that this year, for example, for the one hectare of Maratheftiko planted by the winery, the yield was a rather meager 200 kilograms.

Anyhow, without further ado, our noggins, palates and imagination at work:

Kyperounda Petritis 2012 — Bottled three weeks or so ago so it might need some time to develop. Waxy, white pepper, rather closed nose. Palate defined by citrus, apricots, some floral components and a touch of honey. Ranked 5 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2011 — Pleasant sweet nose with touches of honey and caramel. Great acidity on the palate with a grapefruit, citrus finish. Ranked 3 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2010 — Here the wine starts to yellow a bit. Smoky, dusty nose with a hint of flowers. Much fuller to the mouth but with diluted taste and little finish. Ranked 6 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2009 — This vintage won a Grand Gold Medal at the 5th Cyprus Wine Competition. Lovely bread-y nose with nuances of stone fruits and quince. Again, much fuller, very smooth with stone fruit rounding out the palate. Ranked 2 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2008 — Undisputed best in show. Great acidity, smooth, citrus finish with hints of honey. Feels awfully fresh for a five-year old Xynisteri. Minas told us that the 2011, 2008 and 2005 vintages were very similar given those years' cool summers. Here's hoping the 2011 develops as nicely as this one. Ranked 1 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2007 — Sweetcorn (high levels of dymethil sulfide?) and vegetal nose. Practically flat with little body or flavor profile. Granted, it might have been unfair to follow the stellar 2008 with this clunker. Ranked 8 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2005 — Again, a touch of sweetcorn matched with some smokiness, leather and cedar. Good acidity for an 8-year old. Long finish, smooth and remarkably sweet. Not quite sure whether it is peaking or already on its downhill. Still, ranked 4 out of 8.

Kyperounda Petritis 2003 — Better than 2007 but also felt flat. A smidgeon oxidized. Ranked 7 out of 8.

Summarizing, here are the final rankings, best to not best — 2008, 2009, 2011, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2003, 2007

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Case of Questions with Elena Sophocleous Toth, WineriesCyprus.com

Elena Sophocleous Toth, mastermind behind the quite useful WineriesCyprus.com, was kind enough to participate in the blog's Case of Questions. I wrote a very short profile of the service a few months ago and reached out to Elena to gauge her interest in participating. Voila the result.

Why wine?

EST: Since our move from Sweden to the island we discovered Cyprus really has world class quality wines. I wanted to learn more...

First wine that really captured your attention? How old were you?

EST: I think when starting to explore Stockholm's many fabulous fine-dining restaurants in my mid-twenties I started to speak a special dialect of French involving bouquet and tannins.

All-time favorite bottle of wine?

EST: Ha. It must be that unlabeled bottle of white my friend received from her work. It was the last most unwanted bottle, as she was late to the party. When I visited her that middle-of-the-week afternoon, she invited me to join her and her toddler daughter for a simple meal. I remember we had fish fingers and we uncorked that mystery bottle to find a year imprinted under the cork: 1975. Had it gone sour? Flush it down the drain? So glad we didn't. It was absolutely fab. (Very special food-wine pairing.)

Favorite wine-producing region? Why?

EST: Currently into local wines. Not sure Cyprus counts as a region though? [Editor's Note: Of course!] France otherwise. No specific region in mind.

Favorite wine-and-food pairing? 

EST: Awesome red with red meat and nice white/rose with seafood/fish/white meat That's how far my food-wine pairing skills stretch. Let me get back [to you] in 10 years.

What is Cyprus missing when it comes to wine?

EST: Recognition locally and worldwide. The “buy local” trend can help increase sales of our great local wines. Cooperation between wineries are truly great initiatives such as for filling international demands as embraced by beautiful Mrs Olivia Haggipavlu @ ETKO.

What do you foresee for Cyprus's wine industry? 

EST: Positive growth!

What do you enjoy most about your work in the wine world?

EST: My wine work consists of enjoying lovely wine with fantastic people. No more.

What is your "Five Year Plan" for your business?

EST: Keeping the service up-to-date, useful and perhaps market it more.

Who is your favorite wine personality? Why?

EST: Marcos Zambartas, the humble star (besides his father) of Zambartas Wineries.

Any embarrassing episodes involving spilled wine, corkscrews, sommeliers or drunken behavior? 

EST: Me? Naaah.

Of course, your all-time favorite island wine?

EST: Thinking of some jewels from Zambartas or Kyperounta.

For more information, you can reach WineriesCyprus.com here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Three for Monday #2

* Palate Press, the online wine magazine, has a great article penned by Michael Cervin on the rise of Cretan wines. The piece highlights the white variety Vidiano, calling it the island's flagship grape, and supports my opinion that Vilana, the most planted type, makes average wines.

* The Marlborough (New Zealand) Express summarized a July 2013 Decanter article on a tasting of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs priced under 15 Euros. According to the world's leading wine magazines, "people who drink New Zealand sauvignon blanc are looking for new and exciting styles of the country's flagship wine."

* Some crazy professor in France wants to shut down wine blogs and forbid wine-related tweets. Mishimou, he says it will help reduce alcoholism and drinking among the young. Ridiculous, n'est-ce pas?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Three for Monday #1

I've decided to launch a weekly post ("Three for Monday") that will highlight island wine-related articles that caught my eye during the past week. If you have any interesting pieces to include, please add them to the comments section. Happy reading, happier drinking.

* The article Cyprus wine has been raving about. Jancis Robinson, one of the world's preeminent wine connoisseurs, tasted the 2011 Kyperounda Petritis and loved it.

 * Design and branding are important. Elloinos, one of Greek wine's biggest fans and promoters, highlights Cypriot The Anama Concept's sophisticated collector's bottles. Also, Vouni Panayia Winery's labels got a wonderful makeover courtesy of designer Marios Karystios, and The Dieline, a company dedicated to the packaging design industry, tells us what they love about them.

* If you read the blog and my crazy tweets, you know I have a soft spot for Pinot Noir. Will Lyons, wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal, writes about his favorite New Zealand Pinot Noirs. Make sure to check out the slideshow at the bottom of the article! (Last time I checked, Bottles in Limassol stocks Felton Road.)