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Welcome to Naoussa PDO

Introduction:

Naoussa is located in northern Greece in the region of Macedonia. The PDO Naoussa lies amid a gorgeous natural setting around the picturesque town of Naoussa (the most distinctly Greek city of wine) and overlooking the Gulf of Thermaikos, the city of Thessaloniki, and Chalkidiki peninsula. This is one of the most significant vineyards of Greece, and it features the indegenous grape variety Xinomavro. The largest vineyard of Xinomavro in northern Greece is located in the northwestern part of the district of Imathia, on the southeastern slopes of Mount Vermio (2,052m above sea level) at altitudes ranging from 150m to 450m. The zone has rendered the combination of Xinomavro-Naoussa one of the most dynamic and renowned twin sets in the arena of dry red wines of Greece. Naoussa is a mono-varietal appellation dedicated entirely to Xinomavro. This is the area where the variety excels and produces some of its best wines, offering amazing depth, breathtaking complexity and possibly the longest ageing potential of any Greek dry red. Several 40-year-old bottles full of freshness and vivacity stand as ultimate proof.

History: 

Naoussa has always been associated with viticulture and winemaking. The soils, the water, and the climate have always been an ideal combination for the cultivation of the greatest grape varieties. This vine-growing tradition traces back for centuries, and the wines from this region travelled all over the civilized world. Well-structured and delicate, this wine justifies its reputation. Later in modern history, Naoussa's wine became well-known all over the world. Manuscripts written by famous travelers in the 19th century, such as Pouqueville (1826) and Cousinery (1831), are characteristic evidence attesting to the name and quality of Naoussa wine. At the beginning of the 20th century, Naoussa wines were exported to central and eastern Europe, and even reached Alexandria in Egypt! However, before the end of the century, phylloxera struck Greece causing total destruction to a great number of vineyards. The solution to this problem, which was simultaneously plaguing much of Europe, was the introduction of American rootstocks. Phylloxera is a small insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines, but it was found that these American grapevine species were resistant to the insects. European grape varieties can be grafted onto American rootstocks and the vines are no longer susceptible to phylloxera. After this discovery, Naoussa experienced a major re-planting. 

In October 1987, Naoussa was pronounced an ‘International Town of Vine and Wine.’ The diversity of terrain, altitude, aspect and soil on the hilly slopes of Mount Vermio result in significant differences between the various vineyards, thus, allowing for the existence of many smaller distinct terroirs. Wine growers from Naoussa have observed these differences for centuries. They were aware that there were noticeable differences  to be found in wines coming from a particular village within the appellation. Therefore, the notion of “cru” has been established in the mindset of Naoussa producers for several decades, adding intricacy to an already fascinating region. Naoussa has never stopped producing its famous wine, and its vintners have shown consistent involvement in the development of viticulture in Naoussa. There has been steady progress since 1970 and new up-to-date vinification methods have been adopted. The quality of the wine has also been secured through continuous stringent quality control. Naoussa continues to be a pioneer that justifies its name for production of superior wines.

Classification:

The wine laws of Greece follow those of other EU countries, with wines classified as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). For export markets, producers of dry PDO wines may either use the term Protected Designation of Origin or, less frequently, Appellation d'origine de qualité supérieure (a subcategory within the PDO classification) on their wine labels. On the domestic market, the Greek equivalent of PDO is used (Prostatevomeni Onomasia Proelefsis).

Climate and viticulture: 

Xinomavro needs the appropriate terroir, careful cultivation, low yields, and optimal weather conditions in order to reveal itself in all its glory. The vineyards are at altitudes of up to 450 meters and are noticeably cooler than the surrounding area. In Naoussa, vineyards are located predominantly on limestone-rich clay soils (marl), which gives this region’s Xinomavro wine additional structure (tannin) and bolder fruit characteristics, which make them good wines for the cellar. At these locations organic matter, and therefore fertility, is also low. This naturally restricts the yield of the vines. The climate of the area can be described as a cross between Mediterranean and continental influences, and vintage variations also exist to a lesser degree. Northern winds can be a major inhibiting factor, sometimes resulting in spring frosts in less sheltered vineyards. However most vineyards are located on rolling hills with ample sun exposure, and are protected from these northern winds.

Variety and winemaking:

The name Xinomavro comes from the words xino (sour) and mavro (black). However, the skin of its berries does not possess any particularly rich tint. Be that as it may, Xinomavro surprises with its performance and multi-faceted personality, yielding “vin de garde” reds, dynamic rosés, aromatic sparkling wines, and even idiosyncratic sweet wines. Xinomavro is a variety that is often compared with Nebbiolo, and Naoussa is hailed as “The Barolo of Greece.” Xinomavro has high levels of tannin and acidity and its wines have traditionally had a medium colour that quickly fades to tawny. They tend to lack fresh fruit aromas even in their youth. The essence of the Xinomavro character can be found in the complex, distinct aromas of dark fruits, flowers, tomatoes, olives, dried prunes, tobacco and nuts, while wood-aging becomes evident in the subtle hints of spices. As with Nebbiolo, these wines are long-lived and can develop complex spice and earthy aromas with age. Some winemakers are now choosing to make their wines in different styles, some of which are more deeply coloured and less tannic, while others are aged in new oak. This intriguing grape variety delivers an idiosyncratic wine that is extremely multifaceted, powerful, yet not profound or saturating. It has a complex, intricate and intellectually challenging personality while at the same time it is an ideal accompaniment to foods with intense and rich flavors - a mandatory feature of all Greek wines! Xinomavro wines are usually released on the market when they are at least two years of age, having spent a significant proportion of that time in oak and in bottle. These wines tend to rise up with aging and are bright red in colour, with firm tannins, tight structure, bright acidity and a personality oozing pure elegance. The bottle aging potential of these wines is very long. Xinomavro rightfully holds the top rank in the hierarchy of Greek varieties. Both its uniqueness and performance promise to offer many a moving experience to all true wine connoisseurs, convincing them on the very first sip that they are dealing with something special.

 

Sources:

Wines of Greece. PDO Naoussa. https://winesofgreece.org/pdo/pdo-naoussa/ 

Wine Searcher. Xinomavro Wine. https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-582-xinomavro