Boutari Naoussa 2003
Serve with red meat, sauces and yellow cheeses.
The Boutari family has been crafting wines from Greek varietals since 1879, when Yiannis Boutari first started producing red wines in the small northern village of Naoussa. Since that first vintage the family has become a pioneer of Greek wines. From exporting the first bottled red wine from Greece to reviving lost varietals, Boutari now crafts wines from six different regions using varietals that are grown nowhere else in the world. In a constant quest for improvement Boutari maintains "demonstration" vineyards around Greece where local farmers are invited to learn new methods and techniques for improving their grapes. The results have been astounding: Boutari has been named an International Winery of the Year by Wine and Spirits 19 times – only 5 wineries in the world have received the award more times. Achievements such as developing the modern style of Santorini to reviving lost varietals have garnered lavish praise from the wine press and spawned a generation of high-quality Greek wines made by vintners who cut their teeth under the tutelage of the Boutari family.
A picturesque Mediterranean nation with a rich wine culture dating back to ancient times, Greece has so much more to offer than just retsina. Between the mainland and the country’s many islands, a wealth of Greek wine styles exists, made mostly from Greece’s plentiful indigenous varieties. After centuries of adversity after Ottoman rule, the modern Greek wine industry took off in the late 20th century with an influx of newly trained winemakers and investments in winemaking technology.
The climate—generally hot Mediterranean—can vary a bit with latitude and elevation, and is mostly moderated by cool maritime breezes. Drought can be an issue for Greek wine during the long, dry summers, sometimes necessitating irrigation.
Over 300 indigenous grapes have been identified throughout Greece, and though not all of them are suitable for wine production, future decades will likely see a significant revival and refinement of many of these native Greek wine varieties. Assyrtiko, the crisp, saline Greek wine variety of the island of Santorini, is one of the most important and popular white wine varieties, alongside Roditis, Robola, Moschofilero, and Malagousia. Muscat is also widely grown for both sweet and dry wines. Prominent red wine varieties include full-bodied and fruity Agiorghitiko, native to Nemea; Macedonia’s savory, tannic Xinomavro; and Mavrodaphne, used commonly to produce a Port-like fortified wine in the Peloponnese.
Native to Greece, Xinomavro is widely regarded the finest red wine of the country. Its name literally means “acid black”, and attains fullest potential in the country’s northwest region of Naoussa. These single varietal bottlings of Xinomavro (blending is not allowed here) are often compared to the fine Barolos of Italy for their structure, finesse and age-worthiness. While its vines are fickle and blue-black grapes grow in tight clusters, similar to Nebbiolo, Xinomavro actually appears unrelated. Somm Secret—The use of French oak can help tame Xinomavro but too much can overwhelm it. Some eschew oak entirely during winemaking; other producers use locally-grown walnut.