Thursday, June 12, 2014

A New Day for Cyprus Wine?

As part of the financial haircut imposed on The Rock by Troika, the Cypriot government abolished the Cyprus Wine Products Council, thereby marking an end to the island's annual wine competition. I always looked forward to this event, maybe because it gave me an excuse to taste wines and write about them, maybe because deep down I longed for an invite to the shindig as a guest comedian blogger. Albeit, that invitation was never mailed, and I can only imagine what went down while everyone got it on with Mademoiselle Maratheftiko et al.

Fortunately enough, a week ago (June 4th to the 7th) the Municipality of Limassol took on the responsibility and hosted a new rendition of the Cyprus Wine Competition at the Panos Solomonides Cultural Center. The event was open to the public and awarded Grand Gold, Gold and Silver medals to dozens of Cypriot wines. Unable to attend given the longish drive and Little Miss Despot's need for Papa, I scoured the web in search of the results. A few wineries posted their awarded wines on Facebook but nowhere could I find an event website listing its procedures, participants, winners, etc. In this day and age, it makes very little sense to have a negligible online presence so I hope that by next year a website is up and running. Heck, if the powers that be need a blogger/writer to set it up, I'm all yours. However, if my rudimentary research skills failed me and there is in fact some sort of web presence for the competition, feel free to pelt me with ripe grapes and guide me in the right direction.

In any case, my blogging/Twitter friends at Evoinos Cyprus Wine (whom I assume were in attendance) posted and shared the results with me. Here's a snazzy table listing the victors.

Grand Gold
Kyperounda Chardonnay 2013
Etko St. Nicholas Commandaria 2009
K&K Vasilikon Winery Methi 2009
Loel Alasia Commandaria 2007
Ayia Mavri Mosxatos 2012
Keo Cabernet Sauvignon/Blanc Rosé 2013

Keo St. John Commandaria
Vouni Panayia Barba Yiannis 2012

Vlassides Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Makkas Syrah 2011

Ayia Mavri Mosxatos 2011
Vlassides Shiraz 2012

Kyperounda Shiraz 2012
Kyperounda Petritis Xynisteri 2013

Dafermou White 2013
Erimoudes Athina 2013

Kyperounda Epos Red 2011
Yiaskouris White 2013

Makkas Chardonnay 2013
Constantinou Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Constantinou Shiraz 2011
Tsiakkas Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Makkas Maratheftiko 2011
Kyperounda Rosé 2013

Keo Xynisteri 2013
K&K Vasilikon Winery Vasilikon 2013

Kyperounda Epos White 2013

Vlassides White 2013

Constantinou Ayioklima Xynisteri 2013

Tsiakkas Xynisteri 2013

Let's just say I'm really looking forward to trying the 2013 Kyperounda Winery Chardonnay. Happy drinking, people, and #VamosEcuador #SiSePuede #LittleMissDespotLovesAV25.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Introducing "Los Heffes"

The Full Pint
I know nothing about the home-brewing of beer but here's how I imagine it. A garage, balcony or storage room with sufficient ventilation but creepy enough lighting is converted into a makeshift laboratory. Crusty pots, dirty buckets, glass bottles and sacks of grains and hops are scattered around, a collection of toys for big boys. Over a gas burner, a large pot full of yellowish liquid rumbles, its bitter fumes dispersing like thinning fog. A mad scientist, preferably in flip-flops, boxer shorts, a cruddy ripped tank top and snorkelling goggles, stirs the potion with a kayak paddle or cricket bat or lamb femur and cackles. His hair is unruly and his eyes are bloodshot. Sweat dribbles down his armpits while he waits with patience for his Frankensteiner [insert your preferred style of beer] to be ready. From inside the house, a woman's high-pitched squealing drags him out of his reverie. "No, honey, I cannot help you trim your cuticles and paint your toenails," he says, sighing and taking a long swig from a bottle of Hopsonouris IPA, one of last year's home brewing successes.

"Los Heffes" en acción!
This past weekend, I meant to ask the four gentlemen (who I've baptised "Los Heffes" after one of their beers) behind the Cyprus Homebrewers Association whether my somewhat vivid imagination matches their daily brewing reality. On Saturday, May 31st, for the first time ever on The Rock, they hosted "The Full Pint," a home brewing festival held behind Faneromeni Church in which they showcased nineteen of their beers. Hundreds of people showed up throughout the day, many stopping by as a thirst-quenching preamble to the hugely successful 1st Cyprus Pride Parade that took off from Eleftheria Square at five p.m. on its way to Parliament.

During my forty-five minute stint at the festival, I tasted six beers, several of them better than many of the locally produced beers available in supermarkets. The DUA 101 Dusseldorf Alt was a fuller bodied and more flavourful summer alternative to a lager, while the WIT 10 Orange Belgian Wit, a beer approved by The Wife, Ph.D., had a lively citrus kick and plenty of tanginess. The Tutti Frutti Raspberry Wheat, seemingly a crowd favourite, did not appeal to me as much as I expected a greater concentration of fruit and spice. The Wife, Ph.D., who tends to specialise in fruity beers, agreed with me. The Mystic Roots Pale Ale was a faithful rendition of the style with plenty of hops, which, according to its humble brewer Costas Siahinian of Brewfellas fame, help hide its shortcomings. Likewise, the AAA 5 American Amber Ale was a balanced effort that, in my opinion, packed a greater wallop than Prime Microbrewery's version. Personally, my favourite beer was the BAA 40 Belgian Amber Ale concocted by Costas Panayiotides. This medium-bodied brew elicited lovely aromas of caramelised bananas and sweet spice and a balanced, mouth-puckering taste. I took a full pint with me to enjoy as I walked with the crowds towards the Pride Parade.

First Cyprus Pride Parade
It is wonderful to see progress, in all realms of life, being made on The Rock. Beers (#NotCarlsberg) are improving thanks to people like "Los Heffes" and the local microbreweries. Wines are becoming more refined and lauded in competitions. Most important, though, equality for all as praxis is fermenting as demonstrated by the four thousand five hundred people who marched in support of LGBT rights on the island.

Cyprus: Keep on trucking. Just don't spill your beer.