Xinomavro: The Greek “Ambassador Variety”
Xinomavro is the noblest, indigenous, red variety from the vineyards of Northern Greece. Its name is descriptive and comes from a combination of the words sour (Xino -ksino-) and black (mavro). It is cultivated mainly in mountainous areas in Macedonia, north-central Greece, and the neighboring northern Thessaly.
It produces highly structured wines with distinctive style and character, quality, and long-term aging potential as a multi-dynamic variety. It also offers a full range of wines, red, rosé, white (blanc de noir), from dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, fresh and matured, semi-sparkling, sparkling or sweet (Vin de liqueur) and spirits too. We can find it both in varietal wines and blends as it can combine harmoniously with other indigenous and international varieties.
Besides, Xinomavro is one of the four Ambassador grape varieties of Greek wine, Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, and Agiorgitiko.
There are four Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wine-producing zones of the Xinomavro variety, in Naoussa and Amyndeon as varietal, while in Goumenissa is found in blends with a small proportion of Negoska and in Rapsani along with the varieties of Krassato and Stavroto equally.
Moreover, we can find Xinomavro with the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) designation in small areas such as Epanomi, AgionOros (Mountain Athos), Velventos, Siatista, and Meteora, in regional units such as Thessaloniki, Kastoria, Imathia, Pella, Pieria and Magnesia and in the geographical districts of Macedonia and Thessaly.
These areas are known from humankind’s history, andhave been featured by great personalities such as Aristotle and Alexander the Great. In Macedonia, also, archaeological finds testify up to 7,000-year-old wine history!
Adapted for hundreds of years in Northern Greece, Xinomavro offers wines with exceptional characteristics expressing each terroir’s uniqueness. That’s the main feature of the variety, describing the area and each vineyard cultivated.
As a plant, Xinomavro is vibrant, disease-resistant, potassium friendly, and prefers calcareous soils. Its grapes are medium-sized, spherical with a thin inky-cyan shell. Its flesh is soft while its juice is colorless.
Xinomavro wines have a strong personality that captivates! Typical red Xinomavro is ruby, with mild to moderate intensity. This magical aromatic bouquet ranges from violets, red and black fruits to olive pulp and tomatoes to mushrooms and tobacco, with high acidity and tannins.
Its robust structure, high acidity, powerful tannins, and long aftertaste make it the perfect match with lamb dishes, beef or hunt, roasted or cooked in red sauce, and dried fruits.
Xinomavro’s magic and the delicious combinations that offer are rich in every type and style of wine. The aged version can be paired with a creamy risotto with mushrooms and truffles, a rosé with seafood in tomato sauce, or just a pizza or a salad with dried tomatoes and feta cheese. The white version is paired perfectly with oysters. As for a dessert, it is worth trying a Rosé Sparkling Wine from Xinomavro with a strawberry tart!
Outside the Greek borders, Xinomavro compared with varieties such as Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, or Pinot Noir because of the particularity of flavor and character. There are some standard features among these varieties, but in Xinomavro, we find the aroma and sense of the Greek land’s humid air intertwined with Northern Greece’s mountain ranges’ characteristics.
Getting to know Xinomavro, you are coming closer to Greece’s unknown part, in the mainland of the North.
Note: the primary source of information and phrases comes from Mrs. Stavroula Kourakou, “Xinomavro’s book – The wine of Central West Macedonia.”
Also, some information sources come from the site: www.winesofgreece.gr