As one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world, Greece has millenia of experience and expertise when it comes to viticulture, and has developed a set of flavors and characteristics which are found nowhere else on earth. The ancient Greeks revered and deified wine, and were the first true innovators in the history of wine, adding everything from seawater to honey and spices in order to find exciting new taste combinations and aromas. Today, Greek wines are just as varied, although far more refined and sophisticated than their ancient counterparts. The practice of enhancing Greek wines with aromatic substances never left the country, though, as can be seen in the popular Retsina wines, which use pine resin to provide their unique taste and aroma combinations. There is far more to Greek wine than merely Retsina, however, and the vast variety on offer is a testament to the expertise of Greek wineries making the most of the wonderful climate, terrain and grape varietals they work with.
In the rocky regions of Macedonia, the predominant red grape grown is the Xinomavro, a wonderfully blueish violet grape responsible for producing some of the most characterful and interesting red wines to be found anywhere in Greece. The name translates as 'Acid Black', giving some clue as to the character of the grape, which is particularly astringent but with no shortage of wonderful berry flavors and notes of tart currants. The skins of the Xinomavro grapes have a particularly high tannin content, meaning that wines made from these grapes are particularly full bodied when young. However, herein lies the secret to the massive success and acclaim given to wines made from this particular varietal: they have truly remarkable aging potential, and given a few years in the right conditions, the tannins begin to soften, the acidity mellows, and a wide range of exciting, dense and complex flavors begins to emerge. The aromas, however, are what most wine tasters enjoy when it comes to Xinomavro grapes, as they regularly produce quite complex sets of aromas which contain hints of everything from gooseberry to cinnamon, pepper, cloves, dried tomato and black olives, a cornucopia of Mediterranean delights in a bottle.
Many people regularly compare Xinomavro wines to those of Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, and Barolo in Italy – high praise indeed, as these are generally considered the finest red wine regions in the world. However, the complexity of the wines' flavor and aroma, coupled with the mellowed, rounded tannins and body speaks for itself, and is really quite unique in the world of red wines.