Our grape varieties

Our organic vineyards at the Amyndeo plateau in the far North-west of Greece include:

old to very old Xinomavro vines;

the younger Assyrtiko;

Cabernet Sauvignon;

and the almost forgotten Limniona.

Xinomavro

The ancient indigenous Macedonian grape variety Xinomavro is our 'raison d’être', the reason we came to this region.

Xinomavro is the noblest red grape variety of northern Greece. A quite robust and productive variety forming average-sized bunches of conical, or even aliform, shape. The bunch is dense and the grapes are of average size, spherical, with a thick blue-black skin but colorless juice. In cooler (mountainous) areas like Amyndeon, where there is a small yield per vine, Xinomavro is capable of offering rich red wines, full, high in alcohol content, with good color, and enough tannins to assist in a lengthy aging.

Xinomavro - part two

At the same time, as with pinot noir in the North of France, Domaine Karanika has proven the variety's capability of producing world class sparkling wine. Champagne style, subtle with impressive acidity, normally not associated with Greek wines, fruity and yeasty aromas mouthfilling mousse, endless string of pearls and impressive length.

Looking at the color one can ascertain that the red wines made from Xinomavro have a pleasant ruby and somewhat purplish color. The younger wines have iodine tinges and are primarily plum-colored, shifting towards a brick-red color as they age.

Xinomavro - part three

Xinomavro red and rose wines offer a complex nose, dominated by spices, red fruits and tomato in various forms; ketchup, sweet tomato, fresh tomato- especially present in younger wines. The aged wines acquire more hints of spice as well as animal (leather) aromas. In the mouth Xinomavro can offer wines with medium to full body. Their acidity, combined with the strong tannins, shows that these wines often necessitate aging before consumption. Wines made from Xinomavro are smoothed by aging, while remaining robust.

Background image: By εγώ.Elisavetch at el.wikipedia [Attribution], from Wikimedia Commons

Assyrtiko

Originally from volcanic Santorini in the Aegean. Recently planted in continental Greece. Domaine Karanika is the first and only winery that has planted this variety at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level, in a continental climate, and the only winery to produce biodynamic Assyrtiko. The result is a much slower ripening process: the Santorini harvest is mid-August, Domaine Karanika has to wait until mid-September for the grapes to ripen completely. One whole extra month that results in more aroma, complexity and depth. The Assyrtiko was planted in 2006.

At the age of only 5 years the vine is capable of producing a very promising wine. Imagine what a few extra years would add to the complexity of the wine.

Limniona

There is not much known about this forgotten variety from continental Greece around Karditsa near Larisa. One thing is sure: it is a stubborn and non-cooperative grape to work with. It has giant grapes and bunches, weighing almost 1 kg a piece. And not every plant carries fruit. So there is quite some work to be done to get this plant in balance with soil and climate. At the moment we are experimentally changing from spur pruning to cane pruning. The juice is purple to black. This results in purple to black wine, very aromatic with fruit tones of framboises and blueberries, and intriguing minerality.

The wine is silky, concentrated, with a lot of finesse.

At this point of life Limniona gives a medium bodied wine with normal alcohol level. It has modest acidity and tannins.

Limniona - part two

According to website "New Wines of Greece", Limniona, not to be confused with Limnio, is the rising star of Greek red varieties and might be the driving force leading contemporary labels wines of Greece in the coming years. The dynamic quality of this red variety, used for producing dry red wine, was detected only when the variety was almost extinguished.

The wine made from Limniona has extremely deep, bright and dark red colour. The nose is rich, very expressive, with a strong taste of black fruit and spices. The wine ages well in new oak barrels. The wine is broad in the mouth and constructed on robust, but never aggressive tannins. The alcohol can be relatively high, although rarely exceeds 13.5%, but is always balanced by the strong acidity of the variety.

Limniona - part three

Limniona is one of these rare red varieties, that can result in wines with an extract, body, acidity, aroma and flavor, which do not tend to become too thick and full-bodied. Addressed to those seeking unusual and elegant red wines. Most available samples can be consumed directly, but they benefit if aged at least for a few years in the bottle, and reach their peak within ten years or more.

Our grape varieties in the press

about Xinomavro:

I can think of no grape anywhere in the world (though Carignan and Nebbiolo come close) which produces good and sometimes profound wines of such striking unmodernity. Like conversations in a Henry James novel, they hesitate, they suggest, they prefigure and insinuate, but never insist. There is an outline of fruited warmth in the aroma, there is an undertow of fruited strength in the flavour. Definitely a delicious astringency, but also a delicate astringency, just enough to clean the palate and hurry the food along. Naturally articulated, at all times; bitter-edged, like life. Europe in a glass. Homer's wine.
Andrew Jefford, "Decanter" magazine, February 2005

Our grape varieties in the press - part two

Xinomavro the distinctive red grape of northern Greece, typically shows flavours of red fruit, black olive and tomato, and is likened to Nebbiolo by many. 'Xinomavro has the most fantastic nose', says Mary Pateras from Eclectic Wines (UK) 'and is funky, new and interesting. I think in time it will become a top-class grape'. Nico Manessis 'It's certainly the most interesting red grape in Greece, and has standout personality', it reminds me of the Piedmontese Nebiolo's from the 1970's.
"Decanter" magazine, September 2004