Xinomavro grape variety
Words by Denny Kallivoka and Eleni Nikoloulia
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, in north-central Greece but also in the neighbouring northern Thessaly.
As a multi-dynamic variety, it produces highly structured wines with distinctive style and character, quality dynamics as well as long-term ageing potential. It also offers a full range of styles of wines, red, rosé, white (blanc de noir), from dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, fresh and matured, to semi-sparkling, sparkling or sweet (vin de liqueur) and spirits too. We can find it both in varietal wines and blends as it can be combined harmoniously with other indigenous and international varieties.
In addition, Xinomavro is one of the four Ambassador grape varieties of Greek wine, along with 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, Agion Oros (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.
Adapted for hundreds of years in Northern Greece, Xinomavro offers wines with exceptional characteristics expressing the uniqueness of each terroir. This, after all, is the main feature of the variety, expressing the area and each vineyard in which it is 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 colourless.
Xinomavro wines have a strong personality that captivates! Typical red Xinomavro is ruby, with mild to moderate intensity, a magical aromatic bouquet that ranges from violets, red and black fruits to olive pulp and from tomatoes to mushrooms and tobacco, with high acidity and is also rich in tannins.
Its robust structure, high acidity, powerful tannins and long aftertaste, make it the perfect match with dishes of lamb, beef or hunt, roasted or cooked in red sauce and dried fruits.
The magic of Xinomavro and the delicious combinations that offer are rich in every type and style of wine. In aged version, it 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!
Xinomavro is compared with varieties such as Nebbiolo, Sangiovese or Pinot Noir because of its particularity of flavour and character. Obviously, there are some common features among these varieties, but in Xinomavro we find the aroma and sense of the humid air of the Greek land intertwined with the characteristics of the mountain ranges of northern Greece.