By Yiannis Karakasis MW
Greek wine is full of surprises, and there is so much experimentation going on. A constant journey that has led to many discoveries. And although one might have travelled the country a lot, and perhaps started thinking that “I have heard all about the existing varieties”, suddenly something new appears, like Chlori.
Who are you, Chlori? You sound like Chloe, which I guess is a good sign. A variety that I recently discovered thanks to Wojciech Bonkowski, which originates from the island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea. It is championed by Siflogo winery, which owns a total of 0.25 ha of the variety, all own-rooted. The definition of a unicorn wine made in an orange style.
“It all started as an experiment two years ago,” says 26 yr-old Vassilis Papanikopoulos, a chemical engineer dreaming of becoming a winemaker. Chlori was a variety cultivated in mountainous Lefkada at 500 m elevation. Its name may arise from the greenish tinges it preserves even when fully ripe. Syflogo winery used it in blends until 2019 with local Vardea, but Vassilis wanted to try it on its own to understand it better.
“One morning, I said to my father Dionysis, who started the winery in 1994, why don’t we try Chlori as a single varietal and, even better, vinify it as an orange natural wine?” he says. The wine was fermented slowly with native yeasts for 20-25 days, and after 5 months’ ageing, it was bottled unfiltered, with no SO2 added—5 days skin contact.
In the glass, Chlori is amber coloured with a honeyed (think of thyme honey), sweet apricots nose, with a splash of sage followed by light tannins and soft acidity. Total acidity sits around 5.6-5.8 g/lt while pH is 3.72. Just 600 bottles were produced, retailing at 16 euros.
The winery: Established in 1994 by Dionysis and Maria in the natural wine philosophy, organic status. Their natural lineup includes two orange wines, another in the making, a rosé from Mavropatrino, a light red and a structured wine called Brousko (both reds from local Vertzami). 10.000 bottles total production.