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Xinomavro ξυνόμαυρο

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

In Greek, it literally means “sour black” and as the name suggests, it is a black grape with plenty of acidity and tannins, but the wine are pale to medium ruby. Xinomavro vines are slow to ripen their fruits but can be vigorous, so yields need to be held back to achieve concentration of flavors. At best, Xinomavro exhibits scents of strawberry, cherry, prune, chocolate with some savory notes: tomato, olive, mushroom and tobacco after bottle ageing…. and age Xinomavro can: It has acidity and tannins for ten or twenty years ! This is probably why it is often compared with Piedmont’s Nebbiolo...

Grown all over Greece, its botanic birthplace is somewhere in the cool Macedonian triangle of Amynteo, Goumenissa and Náoussa, three northern Greece Protected Denomination of Origins famous for Xinomavro. Down the south, at the foot of Mt Olympus, the PDO of Rapsani makes notable examples.

On the calcareous and clay soils of Náoussa, Xinomavro is the undisputed King, and gives structured and spicy wines. Xinomavro grown in warmer Goumenissa is blended with Negoska to give full-bodied rounder wines. In the sandy soils over limestone of the highest (coolest) Amynteo, Xinomavro may be vinified into dry to off-dry reds, rosés, and sparkling wines with zesty acidity.

Aren’t you intrigued about this versatile grape that was contemporary to Alexander the Great? To learn more about grape varieties, where they grow and how they taste, enroll the next WSET Level 2 Award in Wines.

Clarke, O. & Rand, M. (2015) Grapes & Wines. New York: Sterling Epicure

Robinson, J. (2015) The Oxford Companion to Wine.New York: Oxford University Press Inc

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