Naoussa Xinomavro

From antiquity through to the modern age, the often hotly debated cultural and territorial legacy of Macedonia has produced a wealth of opposing contentions. The uncertainty about its people’s place within or aside from the Greek patchwork is, in some part, fueled by the generalized fame of Macedonia’s best-known son, Alexander the Great. Tutored by Aristotle and steeped in Homer’s mythic tales, he could proficiently read, speak and conduct himself as a Greek: as a complementary culture to his native Macedonian and its Slav heritage. Under his leadership, the vast expansion of the so-called Greek Empire would eventually dominate the Balkans, Asia Minor, Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt. Ironically for Greeks, the rise to this unrivalled supremacy in the ancient world began with Alexander’s military campaign to subjugate rebellious city-states in Greece’s homelands. In the wash of history, Alexander has become viewed as archetypal Greek, and the former realm of the Macedonian Kingdom
has been partitioned among neighbouring territories in the Balkans and Bulgaria. The portion that remains within the present-day boundaries of northern Greece contains some of the region’s most prized vineyards; unique cool climate terroirs, and specialized cultivation of one indigenous variety for the last 1,500 years!

The sub-region of Naoussa, along with its surprising geography of snowcapped mountains, framing the forested foothills that spill onto a verdant central plain, now also has an official VQPRD wine zone designation. The acronym’s aim is to promote the highest quality standards for Greek wines and mark their distinct origins within the country. Mainly due to the leadership efforts of the dynamic Boutari vineyard group, developing this classification and its requirements are propelling Greece’s re-anointment as a reliable source of premium winemaking.

As an example, this week’s DéClassé featured Naoussa 2013 is a polished version of varietal Xinomavro wine; currently, the best-selling, ambassador wine style for Greece’s worldwide export. As of 1879, 137-years of accumulated expertise by this storied vintner has culminated in the enviable burden of being a benchmark for how well that modern Greek winemakers are doing overall. Year in and out, they substantiate their global reputation by consistently producing well-crafted wines across a range of grades. The 2013 vintage of this entry-level offering is no exception to the rule; it shows unsurpassable quality at a $13.95 price-point!

Approx. 100km from Thessaloniki, this particular estate is both the oldest and original one of the six regional appellations that Boutari has land holdings in. Among the region’s nine villages that include the region’s namesake: Naoussa, vineyards are located on the sunny, southeast-facing slopes surrounding Mount Vermio. Irrigated by runoff, these calcium-rich clay and loam soils provide the perfect conditions for Xinomavro grape growing. Despite being a prolific variety that’s thrived here for eternity, the grape has frequently fallen in and out of commercial favour. Under the stewardship by Boutari, this variety is resurgent and demonstrating its desirability for producing satisfying medium-bodied wine with the potential to age and develop complexity. Rightly compared to Italy’s
Nebbiolo-based wines such as Barbaresco and Barolo, it shares many of the basic attributes such as ample acidity levels married with firm tannins.

This vintage is a charmingly youthful bottling that can be had inexpensively and then reward 3-5yrs. of cellaring by becoming even smoother and more rounded. Buy at least 3. Decant one for several hours to enjoy now and stow the others away to grace a sumptuous winter’s meal later on in 2021. Or, in exercising some admirable discipline, wait even a bit later for the magic to happen!

Naoussa

BOUTARI NAOUSSA 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #23218 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Naoussa, Greece
By: Jean Boutari & Fils S.A.
Release Date: February 6, 2016

Tasting Note
This distinctive red wine has flavours of cherries, raspberry with hints of vanilla and cocoa. Fairly typical of Naoussa style wines, it’s pleasingly tart and earthy in a balanced combination. Try serving as apéritif with hard cheeses or with mains of grilled kabobs, hearty casseroles, and porcini risotto.

Naoussa Alert

The Naoussa region in Macedonia, apart from its picturesque landscape of
rolling hills overlooking the central plain, now also carries an official wine zone
designation VQPRD – an acronym suggesting the highest standard of quality for
Greek wines which have a distinct, geographic origin. Due in part to the efforts
of the dynamic Boutari vineyard group, this EU-mandated classification is at the
heart of Greece’s gradual reemergence as a significant wine making source,
with varietal Naoussa wine being the current, best-selling premium export from
Greece worldwide. This storied vintner, established in 1879, also has the highly
enviable reputation (and burden) of being elected as one of several ‘Winery of
the year’ by Wine and Spirit magazine for a remarkable, ongoing 17yr. streak!

Here in Northern Greece, this holding is one of six appellations and is
made up of 9 villages including the region’s namesake: Naoussa. These historic
vineyards are located on the sunny, south-east facing slopes of the foothills
surrounding Mount Vermio, where the calcium-rich soils composed of clay and
loam provides the ideal conditions for the Xinomavro grape. Having originated
and thrived here for countless centuries, the vines have frequently fallen in and
out of commercial favour. More recently, under the regional stewardship by
Boutari, this variety is again amply demonstrating its desirability for producing
big-bodied red wines with the potential to age well and develop added complexity.

Often compared to Italy’s Nebbiolo grape used for the making of Barolo wines,
this vintage is still young and could use some more time to settle down. It is an
excellent example though of a noteworthy, promising bottling that can be had for
a song now, then reward 2-5yrs. of cellaring by becoming a smooth and rounded
collector’s item. Buy 3 – try decanting one bottle for several hours to enjoy now,
then put the other 2 away to grace a sumptuous winter’s meal later on in 2016
or, with the exercising of some discipline, wait even a bit little later!

Boutari Naoussa

BOUTARI NAOUSSA 2009
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #23218 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Naoussa, Greece
By: Jean Boutari & Fils S.A.
Release Date: Aug 02, 2014

Tasting Note
With flavours of vanilla, cocoa, red berry and cherries, it’s both tart and earthy
which is fairly typical of nutty Naoussa style wines. Try serving with grilled meats,
heavier casseroles, porcini risotto and hard cheeses.