Friday, June 30, 2017
Sparkling Rosé from Kir-Yianni: Greece For The Win
--Pliny the Elder
Drink some Xinomavro this summer! Maybe you're not sure what Xinomavro is, but I hope you're willing to learn. Xinomavro (which roughly translates as "acid black") is an indigenous grape in northern Greece and often is compared to Nebbiolo. Xinomavro is difficult to grow and usually provides mild color, strong tannins and high acidity. Because of those characteristics, it ages very well. While young, the wines tend to be dominated by red fruit flavors and as the wine ages, it starts to show more savory notes, such as tomato and olive. Though it can make impressive red wines, it can also be used to produce compelling Rosé wines.
In Greece, there is a single Appellation of Origin for Rosé wine, the Amyndeon, located in northern Greece in Macedonia. All of the wines from Amyndeon must contain at least 85% Xinomavro. One of the most well known wineries in this region is Kir-Yianni, which means "Sir John" in Greek. The winery was founded in 1997 by Yiannis Boutaris, who had left the Boutari Wine Group. Though their first vintage was in 1990, it was not until the 1995 vintage that the wine was bottled under the Kir-Yianni name. More than half of their labels are single vineyard growths on the eastern and western slopes of Mt. Vermio in Macedonia. They grow indigenous Greek grapes, like Xinomavro and Assyrtiko, as well as some international ones such as Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.
Last night, I chose to open a Greek Sparkling Rosé, made from Xinomavro. I received a media sample of the 2016 Kir Yianni Akakies Sec Sparkling Rosé ($19.99), which is made from 100% Xinomavro. The vineyard for these Xinomavro grapes is located in the viticultural zone of Agios Panteleimon within the Amyndeon appellation in Florina, in northwestern Greece. The vineyard is located at a high altitude of about 600 meters. This Sparkling Rosé spent about 3 months on the lees and has a low 11.5% ABV.
With a light red color and tiny bubbles, this Sparkling Rosé possessed an alluring nose of bright red fruits. On the palate, it was crisp, dry and full bodied with a refreshing effervescence, a mild creaminess and rich flavors of strawberry and cherry. It has a pleasingly long and delicious finish, with hints of savoriness at the end. I paired this Rosé with garlic & parmesan sausage and rice pilaf, and it was a tasty pairing, the fruit meshing well with the herbs of the food. This Rosé would also pair well with a variety of other foods, from seafood to burgers, pizza to roast chicken. Or you could enjoy it on its own, sitting outside in the summer sun, toasting a special occasion, or savoring it at home some evening.
I often recommend people drink Greek wine and you should explore my Ten Reasons To Drink Greek Wine, which I hope will motivate you to explore the diversity and wonders of Greek wines. The 2016 Kir Yianni Akakies Sec Sparkling Rosé would be an excellent choice to start your sampling of Greek wines.
This summer, drink Greek!