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Freedom wine for France

It was no surprise. The country whose motto is Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité wanted out of its shackles. Too many rules and regulations, no wiggle room, not enough space for creativity. Winemakers in France had had enough. They had been dreaming of possibilities that they couldn’t realise. They requested carte blanche. And they got it. They got it in the form of VDF. Vin de France. They nickname it the Freedom Appellation.

France is one of the five most important wine producing countries in the world. Along with Spain, China, Italy and Turkey it holds 50% of the world’s total vineyard area (including vineyards for the production of juice, table grapes, raisins as well as wine). France’s share is 11%, Spain’s 13%, China’s 11%, Italy’s 9% and Turkey’s 6% (OIV, April 2017).

As far as wine is concerned, France produced last year 43.5 million hectolitres which is  less than Italy (50.9 mio hl) but more than Spain (39.3 mio hl), the USA (23.9 mio hl) and Australia (13 mio hl). France does well on the export side. In 2016 together with Spain and Italy its wines accounted for 55% of the world market in terms of volume. By value France is the leader, with 28% of market share worth 8’255 mio Euros. It is followed by Italy with 19% of market share worth 5’354 mio Euros (OIV, April 2017).

If this all looks rosy for France, the country’s 2016 wine production nevertheless dropped by 7% from 2015, and the latter year’s production was lower than that of 2014 (OIV, April 2017). The outlook for the 2017 harvest has taken a turn for the worst with the terrible frosts that have swept across the country this spring severely damaging parts of Chablis, Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux and that will result in lower crops this autumn. Global consumption of wine has been diminishing since 2008. In France, according to Valérie Pajotin, managing director of Anivin, the young have lost interest in wine and need something fresh and new to make them fall in love with it again.

Vin_de_France

Consumers today have a fabulous choice of wine from all corners of the globe. France rules supreme in the fine wine category but cheap, entry level wine has not been its forte. That has been the New World’s hunting ground. To take Chile and Australia as examples, both countries have shown how good and enjoyable cheap wine can be. France, on the other hand, has been reproached for its inability to offer reliable quality in its cheaper wines. Such inconsistencies have been making international consumers turn away from France and look towards other countries. In France itself, were it not for the lack of choice of vins du monde or non-French wines in French supermarkets and wine shops, sales of non-premium indigenous wine might be having a much rougher time.

Selling French wine has its challenges. One of the main reasons is the labelling and appellation system. A lot of consumers think that the labels are too complicated. How can they understand what they are buying when the bottle does not display the grape variety?

As explained by Laurent Delaunay, president and winemaker at Badet Clément & Co and in charge of marketing at Anivin, “the French approach to making wine is terroir driven”. Wine is a produce, an expression of the characteristics of a specific locality, of terroir. This is reflected in the classification system, i.e. the Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) and Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP). Along with qualitatively designating the terroir of origin, the classification system also regulates the way vines are cultivated and wine is produced. These regulations were initially put in place to ensure quality but they often cannot guarantee it and what’s more, can be restrictive for a winemaker and prevent creativity. This is where Vin de France, the “freedom denomination” comes into play.

Created in 2009 as a rebranding of Vin de Table, the new appellation addresses the shortcomings mentioned above linked to the AOP and IGP appellations of origin. The first big innovation is that the grape variety can be stated on the label. Anivin, the promotional body for Vin de France, brands the appellation “the national French denomination dedicated to grape varietal wines”. This change is a huge step forward for the French wine industry. It can now produce varietally branded wines and compete in that category on the world stage.

Anivin_presentation_VDF

Bélénos Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and La Belle Angèle Rosé de Syrah 2016 are 2 Gold medal winners from the yearly Anivin wine competition

Vin de France, which can also state the vintage on the label – unlike the Vin de Table category – encompasses both single varietals and blends. Blends is where producers can really get creative. VDF wines can be made by blending grapes from different wine regions, from opposing parts of France, from fresh regions with warm ones. Wine designers can put together, for example, Gros Manseng from Gascogny with Vermentino from Provence. They can mix local and international grape varieties; create wines that have not existed before. This not only enables them to be imaginative with the taste profile of their wines but it also allows them to work with the diversity of climate and it gives them the tools to produce consistent quality wines, wines that will retain a similar identity vintage after vintage. This consistency is key in creating strong brands.

Laurent Delaunay: “If you want a brand approach, your wine must not vary too much from year to year and that is what blends help us achieve. French market share has declined. Twenty, twenty-five years ago we didn’t take a brand approach and didn’t listen to the consumer. Now we have Vin de France and it is consumer led. Wines are made according to what consumers want”.

Since its creation in 2009, VDF has been growing in strength. It has doubled its production to 185 mio bottles between 2010 and 2016, and is doing particularly well on the export market, where 70% of its output is directed.  Sales to many markets are increasing. Sales to Sweden have risen by 16% from 2015 to 2016. The major part of VDF production is high volume wine with much of it being well made and representing good value for money. The category attracts the likes of big producers such as Castel, François Lurton but also small vignerons, natural wine producers and winemakers who for a variety of reasons either purposefully opt out of an AOP or IGP, or whose creativity is at odds with their appellations of origin. The category ranges from entry level to luxury brands.

Tina's VDF

Tina’s Le Bistro, Grande Crevette Sauvignon Blanc and Bouchard Pinot Noir are some of the VDF wines sold in Sweden at Systembolaget

“Vin de France is the way to get into wine. It makes things simple for the consumer and offers value for money. Varietals and brands are easy to recognize and understand” says Valérie Pajotin. “With Vin de France we hope to get the young men and women of our country interested in wine again and of course we would like them to become initiated through French wine rather than through New World or non-French wine. We next wish for them to progress on to more complex and subtle wines, to wines of origin, IGP and AOP wines from France and connect with their land’s rich cultural heritage”. Undoubtedly France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, would hope for the same. “Le vin, c’est l’âme de la France”, he said in an interview to Terre de Vins (8.5.2017).

I’ll drink to that and to the wine-loving new President of France.

Cheers!

Travelling with wine

Upon arrival at Stockholm airport, I received an sms from Air France informing me that they were “tracking my suitcase”. I had just come back from a trip to Chile and my suitcase appeared to have missed the Paris-to-Stockholm leg of the journey. I wasn’t unduly concerned, clothes are replaceable – and in this instance Air France would probably be doing me a favour if they were to be lost forever – but in my suitcase I did have six bottles of rather good Chilean wine that I was looking forward to consume.

The following day my luggage made it back to Sweden and a courier service obligingly delivered it to my door. Somewhat unsettlingly, though, it came wrapped in a huge thick transparent sack. I removed the plastic – it was reassuringly dry inside – and next unzipped the case. All my clothes were their original colour, no red streaks anywhere, but there was a distinct perfume pervading the air. I initially thought a cosmetic bottle might have leaked until the smell started to make sense. Lees, apples…It was Chardonnay.

Whenever I travel I tend to bring bottles of wine back with me. Usually not just one but many, and in all the years I have been flying and packing wine in checked-in luggage I have only ever had two breakages. In both instances it was, of course, the favourite wine of the lot that got broken and incidentally in a Burgundy shaped bottle.

So what are the best ways to bring wine back home if one is flying?

The simplest and cheapest option is of course to wrap bottles up in socks and clothes and place them in a hardcase bag or a fully packed soft bag. You need to have enough clothes with you to cover the wine and make sure that a bottle is not close to another hard object that could impact and smash it. This is not ideal for short trips nor in warm weather when there will not be enough material to pad out the suitcase. This is also risky as any broken glass and spilled wine will damage the contents of your case.

There are a number of brands that make suitcases specifically for the transport of wine. These suitcases have foam inserts and hold up to twelve bottles of wine. Some suitcases, such as those designed by VinGardeValise, have removable inserts. Room can thus be made for other items, such as clothes, should less than twelve bottles need to be transported. The price for a VinGardeValise on Amazon UK is £249 .

Winesuitcase

VinGardeValise (www.vingardevalise.com)

Such a suitcase is a perfect choice for a preplanned trip. You know you are going to purchase lots of wine and you are happy to travel with two pieces of luggage: one for wine and one for clothes. Alternatively, the case is shared for clothes and wine, and whatever space is not used for clothes will dictate the amount of bottles that can be purchased. Remember to check what baggage allowance you are entitled to – a fully packed VinGardeValise will weigh 20-23 kg which corresponds to the standard maximum limit per bag on most airlines.

If you are flying out and need to bring perfectly cooled white wine for a dinner party, the Transbottle is the one for you. Made of polypropylene it weighs only 0.6 kg. It can carry three 0.75 l bottles (including champagne sized bottles) and comes with a handy shoulder strap making it easy to have as an extra bag. At €46 (£38) the price is very attractive as well. Unless you are buying wine at a Duty Free the Transbottle will have to be checked in and travel in the hold of the aircraft. This is not a problem as the material is shock resistant and your bottles will arrive shaken but not broken. A €14 (£12) “Travel Kit” sold separately will allow you to securely fasten and padlock the bottle carrier. The Transbottle also comes in a bigger six bottle size.

Bottlecarrier

Transbottle-3 with space for a corkscrew (www.transbottle.com)

The solution that wins my vote when I need to travel with a minimal amount if bags is WineSkin. This is a plastic pouch that is lined with bubble wrap and that seals with a very strong band of tape, thus able to contain any leakage. As it is flat – about 6 mm thick – it takes up no space in your luggage so you can take a whole load of empty ones with you. As its name indicates, when filled with a bottle, WineSkin thinly but efficiently covers and protects it, taking up minimal space in a suitcase. Even a suitcase relatively full of clothes can be filled with a surprisingly large amount of bottles in WineSkin pouches. An American product, WineSkin is now widely available in specialist wineshops and tasting rooms, on their website and on Amazon. A non-reusable single pouch retails at $3.50 (£2.70) and at $9.50 (£7.40) through WineSkin’s website for a pack of three. A pack of five costs £17 on Amazon UK. WineSkin sells a range of different single use and reusable pouches.

WineSkin1

Skinny WineSkin (www.wineskin.net)

I personally have been reusing my single usage WineSkin pouches as they offer such good protection and are so convenient, despite the fact that once used they are no longer sealable nor leakproof. Whatever solution you decide on for travelling with wine, do not pack a two-bottle cardboard wine carrier in your suitcase even if the bottles have been specially bubble wrapped and the shop assistant has insisted that the cardboard box was fit for plane travel. You have been warned…

It’s all pink!

The temperature in Stockholm has been below zero for a number of weeks now but there has been a change in the skies which have gone from grey and gloomy to include some rays of sunshine and moments of blue sky. Warm weather and spring are still a way off but clearly they are on people’s mind, and the newspapers last week-end have been surprisingly full of advertisements for rosé wine! On second thoughts, it probably isn’t so much the call of spring but the fact that Tuesday is Valentine’s day, a day that calls for celebration with all things pink and heart shaped. For those of you who might have forgotten this day, here is a reminder for you to go and buy that card and gift!

In following with the spirit of the moment, here is a little sampler of some of the pink festive beverages that are currently available at most Systembolaget shops in Sweden. All of these are with bubbles, bar one – bubbles being synonymous with fun and festivities. (But what is it with bubbles anyways…).

Monte Rossa, Flamingo Rosé Brut, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy
12% abv, SB 7615, 160 SEK

Pale onion-skin in colour. Dry, fine lively bubbles, aromatics of red and yellow apples, grapes and a touch of red fruit. Quite a full, muscular body, good acidity and plenty of bready, yeasty notes, a good length with a touch of apple skin on the finish. 

Champagne is not the only area in Europe to produce sparkling wines in the traditional method. Franciacorta, in Lombardy in northern Italy, is another area that is known for its world-class sparkling wines. This non-vintage wine is made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. The fermented wine has spent two years of lees ageing in bottle, giving it those rich toasty aromas. Franciacorta can be quite expensive but this one here is priced at 160 SEK, which is a little more than a good bottle of Prosecco but less than a cheap bottle of Champagne.

Berberana, Marqués de Monistrol, Selección Especial, Rosé Brut, Cava DO, Spain
11.5% abv, SB 7415, 80 SEK

A pale intensity of pink. Dry, fine mousse that fades away in the mouth, medium aromas of red and dark fruit, pepper, gravel and toasted bread. A medium body with a slight bitter finish. 

Cava is both a region and a style of sparkling wine made through the “metodo traditional” with the bubbles coming from a second fermentation in bottle. It can be elaborated in many different areas of Spain. Most Cava, however, comes from the Penedès region – as is the case for the Monistrol – and is usually a blend of the Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada grape varieties. This rosé is made with 70% Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) and 30% Pinot Noir.

Lanson, Champagne, Rosé Brut, Champagne, France
12.5% abv, SB 7495, 400 SEK

Light pale pink. Dry with very fine bubbles. Aromas of sweet candy floss, peaches, redcurrants, raspberries, sweet juicy apples, blood oranges. A delicate body, refreshing acidity, a long fruity and biscuity length that tapers gently off.

This non-vintage dry rosé Champagne is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and with its pretty pink label undoubtedly a perfect Valentine’s gift.

all-pink

Different shades of Pink

Richard Juhlin, Non-alcoholic Sparkling Wine, Rosé, France
SB 1983, SEK 89

This is an alcohol-free version of a pink sparkling wine from the Swedish champagne expert, Richard Juhlin. Light pink in colour, this sparkler has aromas of baked apples and red fruit. Lively bubbles with a little froth, the body is medium full with good acidity balanced out with a sweet texture. This is a good choice for a non-alcoholic sparkling rosé and the appearance of the bottle and wine is a good look-alike to rosé champagne. The texture of the body without taking the bubbles into consideration is reminiscent of alcohol-free beer.  Made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir.

Barefoot, White Zinfandel, California, USA
8% abv, SB 2215, SEK 70

There is an extra label on the bottle which states “Deliciously fruity” and sure enough, this wine is pure fruit. With a pink screw cap to match the colour of the wine, this bottle contains aromas and flavours of peach candy, apricots, ripe strawberries and blackberries. The alcohol is low, the acidity is medium and the finish is juicy and sweet (33 g/l of residual sugar).

If you want to say it with fruit and are on a low budget, this is the one for you.

Garcia Carrion, Platino, Flowery Sparkling, Pink Moscato, Spain
7% abv, SB 77072, SEK 50

Pale pink in colour, aromas of candy floss, orange blossom and raspberries, this is another crowd pleasing party wine that does not break the bank. Pink Moscato is a very popular beverage in Australia. This is something I only recently found out during a blind tasting when I tasted this wine for the first time and did not have a clue where the wine came from… Systembolaget only had this Spanish one on its shelves at the moment. Bubbly, quite full-bodied and very definitely sweet (75 g/l of residual sugar), this low alcohol wine is for those who really like sweet wine. This is a wine to serve as an aperitif.

Lastly, a pink sparkler that is not a wine but a cider:
Carlsberg, Somersby, Sparkling Rosé, semi-sweet cider, Sweden
4.5% abv, SB 88741, SEK 18.10

Pale pink, with aromas of pears, gooseberries, and mulberries. This is a sweet cider (77 g/l of sugar) that is nevertheless refreshing thanks to its fine bubbles and moderate acidity.

Enjoy Valentine’s day, whether it’s with rosé, or without…

Vintips – vecka 46

Det var på en tävling organiserad av Spanska Viner nyligen som jag provade Navaherreros Blanco de Bernabeleva för första gången. Ett spännande vin men inte ett som gör alltför mycket väsen av sig. Det är inte en fruktbomb eller ett aromatiskt vin. Det är snarare ett ganska subtilt vin med silkeslen kropp som bjuder in till ytterligare ett glas. Oftast tänker man mer på röda viner än på vita när man pratar om Spanien. Landet har fantastiska vita viner men kanske på grund av att de inte är alla gjorda på aromatiska druvsorter så får de inte lika mycket uppmärksamhet. […]

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Unleash the winemaker in you

How often do you order a glass of wine and think, mmm, quite nice, but it would be so much better if it were a little more fruity or maybe a little more tannic… No, the tannins are fine, what is lacking is more power? Or more acid? In other words, if you were the winemaker, you would have made the wine differently and you might even have come up with a better product, or in any case you would have created a wine that corresponds to your taste.

If that is how you feel, Högberga Vinfabrik is just the ticket for you. Located in Lidingö on the grounds of a country hotel, it is a small winery that makes its own wine and that offers wine tasting sessions to the public. These sessions include a visit of Vinfabrik’s premises with detailed explanations into the winemaking process as well as a tasting of their range of wine accompanied by delicious Italian cheeses and cold cuts.

Winetasting at Högberga Vinfabrik

Rosé, red wines and a passito with a plate of pasta, Italian cheeses and cold cuts at Högberga Vinfabrik, Stockholm

Visiting a winery in a country not known for wine production, and what’s more in the centre of a city, is unusual and interesting and the tasting session at Vinfabrik is equally innovative. You don’t just sit and sip, but you mix and assess. Vinfabrik invites you to discover its single varietal wines and to experiment into making different blends with two or three of them. The winery sources its grapes from Bolgheri in Italy, a region known for its Super Tuscans, where the main varieties are the French Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the indigenous Sangiovese.

We arrived at Vinfabrik to find three glasses of red wine, a measuring beaker and some empty glasses waiting for us. The sommelier hosting the event invited us to first taste each one of the single varietal red wines, which were a young Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, and to pick out their main feature. The consensus was that tannin came to the fore in Cabernet Sauvignon, fruit in Merlot and acidity in Sangiovese.

Winemaking at Högberga Vinfabrik

Blend your own wine at Högberga Vinfabrik

He next requested that we pour two measures of Cabernet Sauvignon and one measure of Merlot into a glass. What did we think of it? Was the blend more interesting than the individual wines? How did the different characteristics of the varieties balance out? Those proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are in fact typical in a Bordeaux left bank red wine. Our next task was to mix 0.3 dl Cabernet Sauvignon, 0.3 dl Merlot and 1 dl Sangiovese, a Robert Parker-like recipe, the sommelier told us, to give power and complexity to the thinner, more acidic and light-coloured Sangiovese. Once our introduction to blending was over, we were provided with some more empty glasses and a top-up of wine. It was now our turn to experiment. The idea is for us to come up with our very own blend, the combination that we think works the best, a wine that we tailor make to suit our taste. But this is not an exercise for a one-off moment of pleasure. The winery will prepare your preferred blend for you. It will bottle, label and package it so that you may enjoy your very own wine back home. All you need to do is give the winery “your recipe” and the desired number of bottles. Your order will be ready for you to pick up at some later date from a Systembolaget shop.

tanks_vinfabrik

The have got the kit at Högberga Vinfabrik in Stockholm

Urban wineries have been popping up in cities all over the world, in the US (New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati), in the UK (London) and in Hong Kong, to name a few. Stockholm has even gained a second one, The Winery Hotel, which opened in January 2016. The services provided vary from one winery to another. Some offer hotel accommodation, dining, spa, and can be hired for conferences and weddings. The core attractions that all have in common are wine tasting, an introduction to the winemaking process and equipment, and some form of hands-on experience whether it be participation in the winemaking process or blending your own wine.

Högberga Vinfabrik started off in 2004 as a hobby in a garage in the southern outskirts of Stockholm city. Two friends, one of them having previously lived in Tuscany, thought it would be fun to get hold of some grapes in Italy and drive them back to Sweden to make wine. Neither of them had any experience in winemaking but they managed to get help along the way and their project took off. The hobby turned into a commercial venture and six years later the whole operation moved to its current location at Högberga Gård. Here the winery can house tanks, barrels, and bottles and has a tasting room to accommodate visitors. Today Högberga Vinfabrik is busy catering to wine consumers who are ever more knowledgeable and eager to broaden the scope of their experience of wine.



Högberga Vinfabrik and The Winery Hotel in Stockholm both offer winemaking sessions. They also have a restaurant, a hotel and can be booked for conferences and weddings.

Vinfabrik 
Email: info@vinfabrik.se
c/o Högberga Gård Hotell & Konferens
Grindstigen 5-6, 181 62 Lidingö
Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46 (0)8 546 46 100
Fax: +46 (0)8 546 46 200
Email: info@hogberga.se

The Winery Hotel
Rosenborgsgatan 20
169 74 Solna
Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46 (0)8 146 000
Email: info@thewineryhotel.se

hogberga_gard

Högberga Gård on Lidingö, Stockholm, Sweden

 

Wine tasting on Paros island at Moraitis Winery

I spent some of the summer of 2015 with my family on the island of Paros in Greece. Our hotel had no dining facilities and so we ate out in the small fishing town of Naoussa every evening. The restaurants we visited were all excellent as was the wine. We made a point of choosing Greek wines and on quite a few occasions we had local wines suggested to us. Local included wines from other islands such as neighbouring Santorini but also wines from Paros island itself. The latter were quite unique and made from grape varieties that I had not previously encountered. The producer of those intriguing wines was Moraitis and happened to be located in Naoussa, a short distance from the town centre. One afternoon when it was simply too hot to be on the beach I set off to find out more about the winery.

Moraitis Winery, Naoussa, Paros island, Greece

Moraitis Winery, Naoussa, Paros island, Greece (photo by Sarah Jefford)

I stepped into the cool building and found myself in the main tasting room. I was not alone. Quite a few tourists were there too, having escaped the heat, and were propped up against a long bar, sipping on wine that was being poured out to them by a member of the winery. In adjoining rooms, a collection of old harvesting and cellar equipment was on display for the benefit of visitors. Cellars on the floor below housed barrels and bottles of old vintage wine.

Savvas Moraitis came to greet me. His family owns the winery and has been making wine on Paros island for the past century. Now the younger generation is actively involved in the running of the winery. Savvas studied business administration in Athens and looks after the business side of the winery whilst his brother is the winemaker.

Barrels in the cellar of Moraitis Winery, Paros, Greece

Barrels in the cellar of Moraitis Winery, Paros, Greece (photo by Sarah Jefford)

The family have 25 hectares of vines that they manage and farm organically. They also buy grapes from a group of fifty-eight growers that have vines all over the island. Their annual production is 300’000 bottles split roughly between 55% white and 45% red. They also produce some rosé and some sweet wine.

Savvas explained to me how in the last fifteen to twenty years a revolution has been taking place in winemaking in Greece. Winemaking itself remains traditional but huge investments have been made in new machinery, in stainless steel cellar equipment.

Sixty percent of their wine is sold on the Greek market, all over Greece. The remaining forty percent is exported to North America, UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and China.

Savvas Moraitis at Moraitis Winery, Paros

Savvas Moraitis in the tasting room at Moraitis Winery, Paros, Greece (photo by Sarah Jefford)

Sarah Jefford – What is special about Paros?
Savvas Moraitis – Viticulture in Paros is ancient. It dates back to 3000 BC. On the small island of Despotiko, adjacent to Antiparos, archeological remains have been found attesting to the most ancient civilisation in Europe.

In antiquity Paros was renowned for the quality of its marble, which was particularly fine and transparent. Venus de Milo and Hermes have both been sculpted out of Parian marble. 

On the viticultural front, Paros has not been hit by phylloxera. Vines here are not grafted. Vines that grow on their own root system have a long lifetime and thus many of our vines are very old.

What is the climate and the soil like here ?
Paros has its own microclimate. It is very dry, there is little rainfall and we have north winds all year round. The soil is poor. It is mainly sandy clay and sand on the coastline. In the more mountainous areas the soil is rocky with often a layer of marble underneath.

You have lots of different grape varieties, what is a typical harvest for you?
Our harvest usually begins in August and finishes at the end of September. The order in which we pick the varieties is Assyrtiko, Malagousia, then Monemvasia and we finish with the red varietals. 

What is your outlook for this year’s harvest?
2015 has been a good year for Paros with a good rainfall in the spring and good winds in the summer. 

paros_from_kolibithres

Paros island, Greece, a view from Kolimbithres (photo by Sarah Jefford)

Where are your vineyards located?
Our vineyards are scattered in many different areas of the island: in Ambelas and Isterni on the eastern coast, as well as from Marmara all the way down the coast to the southern tip of the island; Kamares on the top western part of the island, between Naoussa and Parikia. Our vineyards in Lefkes and Thapsales, in the centre of the island, are the highest and the oldest.

How are the vines trained? Are they trellised?
The winds on Paros are very strong. We therefore only use trellises on sites that are sheltered from the wind. Our Assyrtiko and Malagousia which grow in Isterni are trellised. The rest of the vines are free standing. 

Are your free standing vines woven into baskets like on Santorini?
The main technique that we use here is “Aplotaria”. The vines are planted some distance apart and are left to sprawl without support. This system protects the vines from the wind. As the plant is close to the ground this enables it to capture humidity from the wind at night time under its leaves. This is an important source of water in this otherwise dry climate.



Moraitis white wines. Syllogi, Malagousia, Paros.

White wines at Moraitis Winery made from varieties such as Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Monemvasia (photo by Sarah Jefford)

Moraiti, Sillogi 2014, PGI Cyclades, Greece
(Product of organic farming)

A dry white wine made from the Assyrtiko and Malagousia grape varieties.

Tasting note: the colour is a pale lemon with a hint of green. On the nose ripe lemons, some sweetness, lime zest and green apple. On the palate sweet lemons, lime with a dry backbone, bitter apple skins, silky body and medium acidity. The assyrtiko’s searing acidity and powerful body has been tempered by the aromatic Malagousia. The resulting wine is light in body yet with texture.


Ktima Moraiti, Malagousia 2014, PGI Cyclades, Greece
(Product of organic farming)

Malagousia is a grape variety that according to Greek wine author Lazarakis (2005) “has the power of a Chardonnay, the extract of a great Semillon, a great affinity with oak, and an aromatic character that could only be described as unique”. A previously “forgotten” varietal that is believed to have originated in the western part of continental Greece, it has today found renewed interest.

Tasting note: Wafts of Williams pear and salty citrus. A nice weight on the palate, peach, apricot, orange and bitter lemon peel.


Moraitis, Paros 2014, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Paros, Greece

The grapes for this white wine come from vineyards all the way along the east coast of Paros, from the level of Marmara right down to the south. The soil is sand. The grape variety is Monemvasia which is thought to have its origins in the southern Peloponese, from the area surrounding the town which gave it its name. It became extinct on the mainland under the Ottoman empire but was preserved on the island of Paros. Today it is only really found on Paros though there have been some new plantings in Laconia, close to its region of birth.

Tasting note: Aromas of lemon squash, white flowers, lemon, apple, pineapple. Dry, light bodied with medium acidity, with a little bitterness, minerality, citrus, white flowers, green apples. 

This white wine has been fermented classically in stainless steel.


Moraitis white, rosé and red wine

White, rosé and red wines at Moraitis Winery, Paros island, Greece (photo by Sarah Jefford)

Moraitis, Estate 2014, PDO Paros, Greece
(13% 
abc – 3’000 bottes produced)

The grapes are Monemvasia sourced from top vineyards close to Kamares, on the north-western side of the island. The soil is poor and sandy, and offers good drainage. These are Moraitis’ own vineyards and are organically grown. The grapes are handpicked. Eighty percent of them are fermented in stainless steel and the remaining twenty percent in barrels. The wood is 100% new French oak with a light toast. Once the fermentation has taken place the wine that has fermented in oak is added to the stainless steel fermented wine and is left on the lees for six months. In addition to the latter procedure, skins are left in contact with the juice before the fermentation to create complexity. Fermentation temperatures are kept low.

Tasting note: Pungent on the nose with aromas of apricot, white peach, pear. Med+ acidity. The wine is dry and has been fermented to dryness but Savvas Moraitis tells me that the Monemvasia grape variety has sweet aromas that give an impression of sweetness.

This is one of their top range wines which can be aged up to ten years.


Moraitis, Paros 2013, barrel fermented, PDO Paros, Greece
(13% abc – 5’000 bottles produced)

The grape variety is Monemvasia. This white wine is entirely fermented in oak barrels and is left on its lees for six months with regular stirring. The barrels are medium toast, 100% new French oak from Tonnellerie Nadalié in the Médoc. This step adds extra richness and complexity to the wine. The grapes are sourced from Moraitis’ group of grape growers, from vineyards in the Lefkes area, in the mountainous centre of the island.

Tasting note: Aromas that are smoky, evocative of lemon and lime cordial and pear “tarte tatin”. Intense with quite a full body, medium acidity and a long length, the palate unfolds sweet limes, citrus, almond paste, a hint of bitterness, Bassetts’ blue liquorice sweets and pomegranate. 


glass-of-moraitis-wine-at-yemeni

A refreshing glass of white Paros from Moraitis at Yemeni restaurant in Naoussa, Paros (photo by Sarah Jefford)

Ktima Moraiti, Rosé 2014, Aidani Mavro-Mandilaria, PGI Cyclades, Greece
(Product of organic farming)

Moraitis’ rosé is made from a blend of Aidani Mavro and Mandilaria. The Aidani Mavro is a grape variety that is only found on Paros, in the Cycladic islands and on Crete. It is adapted to the hot and dry climate of the islands and copes well with water stress (Lazarakis, 2005). Mandilaria is the most common red grape in the Cyclades. According to Savvas it is the darkest grape varieties in Greece. It has high tannin and high acidity. This rosé displays the colour of the Mandilaria and the aroma of the Aidani. Both varieties are fermented separately. There is a three hour period of skin contact for the Aidani Mavro. For the Mandilaria the press cycle has to be kept very short.

Tasting note: Bright cherryade colour. Very fruity, strawberries, cherries, peach, caramel, red sweets. Appealing, quite full on the palate, dry and fresh. 


Moraitis, Sillogi 2010, Greece
(Product of organic farming)

A blend of 75% Aidani Mavro and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines are thirty years old but are in the process of being phased out to be replaced with indigenous grape varieties. The vines are from vineyards on either side of the island: Kamares, on the north-western side, in from the beach where the soil is sandy clay and rock; Ambelas, on the north-eastern coast where the soil is sandy clay.

Tasting note: An earthy and floral nose with violets and irises. A spicy, earthy body with savoury and sweet notes including red cherries, sun-dried tomatoes, pansies, caramel and coffee. Silky with a long length.


Moraitis Winery: red and rosé wines are made from Mandilaria

The Mandilaria red grape variety is used in Moraitis’ rosés and reds (photo by Sarah Jefford)

Moraitis, Paros 2011, PDO Paros, Greece

This is a red wine but it is unusual in that it is made with 75% Mandilaria, a red variety, and 25% Monemvasia, a white variety. This blend is particular to Paros and has a long tradition. The vines were planted together and used to be pressed together. Mandilaria is very tannic, has a very high acidity and a very deep red colour.

Tasting note: Intense and generous nose with floral tones, prune, orange, cinnamon. A very spicy palate, with more cinnamon, smoke, dark fruit and black olives. The wine spent twelve months in 85% French and 25% American oak.


Moraitis, Paros Reserve 2009, PDO Paros, Greece
(13% 
abv)

This is a red wine, a traditional Paros blend of the tannic red Mandilaria and the aromatic white Monemvasia. The grapes are sourced from Lefkes, from the oldest and the highest vineyards on Paros. The old vines, low yields and elevation bring concentration and freshness to the wine.  Paros Reserve matures for twenty-four months in oak and one year in bottle.

Tasting note: Monemvasia’s peach and apricot aromatics come through on the nose amidst Mandilaria’s dark fruit and savouriness. The palate is fresh and complex and offers floral notes, dark fruit, prunes, plums, caramel, dried raisins and hints of very concentrated strawberry jam. 


Moraiti, Liastos 2008, Produce of Greece
(13.8% abv)

A beautiful dessert wine made from the white Monemvasia grape variety. The grapes have been left out to dry on the soil for fifteen days. The wine is aged two years in oak barrels.

Tasting note: See-through mahoganny with amber coloured rim. Fresh aromas of caramel, coffee, orange, grapefruit, fig and waxy honey. Luscious and silky sweet on the palate but not overbearing, medium bodied with fresh acidity, raisins, prunes, toffee, fresh orange, apricots, figs and a little heat. A long finish. Does not need to be paired with dessert. It is a good accompaniment to nuts.


Moraitis Winery, Naoussa, 844 01 Paros, Greece – http://www.moraitiswines.grinfo@moraitiswines.gr 

References
Lazarakis, K. 2005, The Wines of Greece, Kindle ed., Mitchell Beazley, London



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Vintips – Vecka 44

Första snön i Stockholm. Perfekt – mer plats i kylskåpet då vita viner kan förvaras på balkongen – så länge som det inte fryser på ordentligt förstås. Således blir veckans vintips om vitt vin och om den klassiska druvan Sauvignon Blanc. Två viner, två olika uttryck. Ett vin från den nya världen och ett från den gamla. Men nuförtiden är begreppen “ny värld” och “gammal värld”lite passé då gränserna är suddiga och lätt flyter ihop. Kan man verkligen ställa än mot den andra? Europeiska vinmakare inspireras av vinmakarna från antipoderna och vice versa. Det är numera inte alltid så lätt att gissa vart ett vin kommer ifrån. Stil är kanske ett bättre ord att använda för att jämföra viner. I alla fall har vi här två viner som båda kommer från tydligt svala områden och som i sin respektive stil är typiska för deras ursprung. […]
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