Week 51 – Xinomavro

We tasted: Thymiopoulos Xinomavro, M&S

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “Coming soon!”

Andy says: “Another one to look forward to, given that I think I like big bold reds.

Week 14’s Nebbiolo didn’t quite do it for me, so will Xinomavro? It reminded me more of week 10’s Corvina, as I thought it was quite sweet and raisined. Emma is yet to write her notes so I’m interested to see if she agrees. Very drinkable with bold tannin and a purple colour that for me also had a tinge of brown. I’m not sure I could have more than a couple of glasses as I am finding it to be very sweet.”

Buying Guide

Xinomavro is the king of Greek red grapes. It is a giant of a grape variety in the fact it has thick skins and double pips. That means it has a lot of tannin and structure making it a bold red. Many people compare it to Nebbiolo for its bright fruit aroma along with distinct smoky characters, plus its ability to age well. The best region is Naoussa in the North of Greece but if you can find any Xinomavro that will do.

4 thoughts to “Week 51 – Xinomavro”

  1. I had to search high and low for this one and it became a bit of a mission. Having searched several central London wine shops I eventually found a bottle under my nose in a friendly local wine bar in Tooting Market (called Unwined in Tooting). It was a Markovitis Chateau Pegasus Naoussa 1999. I was stunned that they had it, especially such an old bottle – the oldest I’ve tried all year. The twist was that it was a bit more expensive than I’d planned at £31. I justified it as a Christmas treat and worth it to enter into what is uncharted wine territory for me.

    Xinomavro is a grape I’d never heard of and I know nothing about Greek wine. Adding to the sense of adventure was the fact the bottle only had Greek script on the label so it was almost a blind tasting. I was not disappointed.

    We ended up trying it on Christmas day with a giant beef Wellington. It was a perfect match. The age was obvious as soon as it was poured into a glass. The colour was very brickish with lots of brown hues, almost tawny. Long tears formed around the glass so I was surprised that it wasn’t stronger than the 12.5% declared on the label.

    The nose was a show stopper. A flowery, rose water bouquet seemed to hover over the surface with a core of sour red cherries, redcurrant and pomegranate molasses. Tertiary scents were abundant and everyone around the table seemed to sense something different. I got an assortment of boot polish, black olive, clove, black pepper, medicinal herbs (like pine needles), cedar, leather, tea leaves….. Others insisted it was nutty and spicy. We all agreed it was complex!

    The palate was very dry and surprisingly light bodied with a very tannic mouth feel. The main flavour was sour cherry with a pine needle / mountain herb finish which was a tad sour. The length was excellent with leather and black olive, but there could have been a bit more sweetness to balance the acidity.

    Overall I found it very interesting and I really liked it. The palate could have been a bit fruitier to live up to the extraordinary nose. It made me wonder if it was actually a little too old and ‘over the hill’ palate-wise. The length was great though: “a tertiary bomb rather than a fruit bomb.” It stood up to its Nebbiolo comparisons. We actually had some Barolo with the same meal (which was excellent in its own right), but the Xinomavro stood its ground and was certainly more interesting and everyone commented on it. I loved trying it and definitely want to try more Greek wine now.

    Happy Christmas and thank you 52 grapes for introducing this grape to me!

  2. Wine -Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes, Thymiopoulos 2017 (The Wine Society £11)

    Colour – Deep Garnet

    I didn’t quite know what to expect with this wine, although it was nice to find the wine I’d bought was highly recommended by another poster! Despite being pleasantly surprised with my first taste of Greek wine (Assyrtiko, week 25), I was wasn’t expecting too much from this wine. I am glad to say, I was once again forced to confront my irrational prejudices.

    Black and red stone-fruits and leather dominate the aroma, with black pepper and a slightly sweet vegetal backbone tying it all together.

    The taste is surprisingly rich, and the comparisons to Nebbiolo seem to be spot-on. The fruit becomes secondary to the leather on tasting, but still balanced well. The red fruits also come through more than the black fruits, and there are also hints of cassis and mint.

    This is a very enjoyable wine, and one I will be purchasing again. Now I’ve got a bit of confidence in Greek wine, I look forward to doing more research.

  3. Thanks for all the brilliant posts throughout the year!
    Regarding Xinomavro I can’t recommend Thymiopoulos Jeune Vignes de Xinomavro Naoussa highly enough. I think I got mine from Roberson Wines. Heck, if I got it blind I would bet my house on it being a Langhe Nebbiolo!

    BTW for Christmas we’re warming up with Cremant de Limoux then for the food Talmard Macon Villages (no oak but nicely buttery) and Cumberland Oregon Pinot Noir , followed by Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttanyos or 20yo Tawny.

    Thanks again & Happy Christmas!

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