Ieropoulos Winery in Nemea: Dawn of a new era
I first visited Ieropoulos winery in Nemea region, Peloponnese a couple of years ago where I noted that producer Polychronis Ieropoulos is absolutely serious and determined in producing ''la crème de la crème'' for Nemea region. The specifications set are indeed stunning, the investment as well and apart from anything else it has sparkled the discussion in the region.
There is often the misconception that it is easy for someone to produce a premium wine, yet what changes the game is the work in the vineyard. The challenges are well recorded including an extra load of labour and rigorous selection of fruit, all costly decisions to get the appropriate quality of fruit.
And just a walk in Ieropoulos vineyards is a real eye-opener. Together with his viticulturist Yiannis Kanakis he has managed to produce some of the smallest bunches of Agiorgitiko grape I have ever seen! Kanakis tells me that irrigation management is absolute key to get small but very concentrated berries. Yields are on average 40 hl/ha and green harvest is a standard procedure until the vines reach the desirable balance.
Ieropoulos owns close to 2 hectares in Dourmiza, Koutsi region at 500 m altitude. Soils are full of limestone there exposed to the beneficial effect of the sea breeze from the Gulf of Corinth. The privately owned vineyards just entered production from 2016 vintage while the rest of the grapes are sourced from cooler climate Asprokambos region at 800 m altitude.
A mighty team is in charge of winemaking composed by Burgundy-based consultant winemaker Kyriakos Kynigopoulos and oenologist Grigoris Skopelitis. Ieropoulos tells me during my last month's visit in Nemea that he does not like the oak to dominate aromatically and this is the reason that the winery has adopted top quality 350 lt barrels from tonnellerie François Frères that cost a small fortune. He describes the approach as burgundian to maximize fruit expression and minimize oak effect.
Open top fermentation is the norm after rigorous fruit selection for better control of the fermentation and for punching down as well.
The wines: The winery produces just 20.000 bottles from two labels, Aras and Daemon that command a premium tag price in the market.
Aras is like a second wine to Daemon and from the top quality 2013 vintage has given a fantastic Agiorgitiko expression. Tight on the nose, blossoms with time revealing aromas of black cherries and Mediterranean herbs. Cedar as well. Firm and structured on the palate shows depth of fruit with a persistent peppery finish. Terroir-driven wine. 2017-2022. 93/100
The Aras 2014 needs time to open up being very youthful and focused on the nose. Savoury and taut it shows lovely concentration in the mid-palate and purity of red fruit. 2019-2025. 90/100
The flagship from Ieropoulos shows a polished mineral core with tension and aromatic vibrancy of roses, crunchy cherries and light cinnamon. Red fruit around subtle oak scents and soft spice synthesize the aromas on the nose. More to the elegant side on the palate with fine grained tannins that need time to mellow. Solid, precise and fresh. After 2020. 91+/100