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20 February 2021

The Microvinifications of Vouni Panagia (2020 release)

By Demetri Walters MW

Last year I reported (via the website of my friend Yiannis Karakasis MW) on the Microvinifications of Vouni Panagia. This article is an update on the last piece, with the 2020 release of the Kyriakidis’ most recent experiments to realise the character and full potential of Cyprus’s native grape varieties. 

The following tasting notes are just a snapshot of the work that Yiannis Kyriakidis, his brothers and father, are pursuing. Bastartiko, Michailias, Maroucho and Spourtiko do not feature in this particular tasting report, but they are not forgotten. The family continue their experimental work in revealing the character of each of these grapes, using a series of varietal and winemaking combinations that serve to understand each grape and their relative possibilities better. 

Alongside a number of other key players on the island, Vouni Panagia are flying the flag for Cyprus’s autochthonous grape varieties. Whilst this endeavour will for long be a work in progress, the qualitative and stylistic gains that they are making are incredibly encouraging. Along the way, their footsteps are as light in the winery as they are in their vineyards: no new wood, native yeasts and spontaneous fermentations are all standards in their approach. 

Here are just seven wines, including a blend, that display the exciting developments in Vouni Panagia’s dry-planted, limestone-planted, often co-planted, high-altitude bush vine vineyards on the edge of the Paphos Forest

1. 2019 Vasilissa (The Queen)

Delicately strawberry-scented (rather appropriately for Aspri Fraoula) though altogether more spicy and lemony on the palate. Linear and precise; made all the more refreshing by crisp acidity. Markedly vinous, tart and citrusy on the finish. Even a touch peppery. Long and cleansing. A very quaffable wine with a lovely weight and texture.

Vasilissa is also known as Aspri Fraoula (White Strawberry) and Tsaoussis (The Captain)
Grown at 1,100m
Extended lees ageing
All stainless steel

2. 2019 O Pramatevtís (The Wandering Merchant)

Slightly herbal with cinnamon & nutmeg on the nose - actually, redolent of cistus. Altogether more stone-fruited on the palate, with vivid pineapple notes. A mouthfilling oxidative looseness ensues, held taut by a ripe but refreshing acidity that's further boosted by a lemony seam on the finish. Mouthfilling, full and rolling. The contributions of spicy Morokanella and peachy Promára make music here.

50% Morokanella & 50% Promára
800m – 1,000m
Pre-fermentation cold soak
Oak maturation for the Morokanella
6 months on lees for the final blend

3. 2018 Xiriká (Dry Farmed)

Something quite musky and pungent about this Xynisteri, like the roadside Konizi weed of the region: these herbal, balsam notes give way to ripe red apple and a mounting peachiness on the palate. The acidity, whilst relatively modest, is more than sufficient in a wine that is quite light and lean. This will prove an extremely versatile seafood accompaniment ending, as it does, with a citrus and saline twist.

Xynisteri grown at 1,050m
Pre-fermentation cold soak
Stainless steel
9 months lees ageing
18 months reductive maturation

4. 2019 Zizánia (The Weeds)

Thick-skinned Promára seems to lend itself to skin-fermented/orange wines, and this is no exception.

Markedly pale amber. A pronounced and extremely attractive bruised apple and pear skin bouquet, giving way to subtle peach notes and hints of acacia honey. This apply character follows through on the palate, accompanied by orange zest. Textured, quite grippy, but not overly full. Well-tuned acidity keeps the whole affair snappy and taut. Really quite something. Very moorish!

Promára grown at 1,000m
17-day maceration on skins (including fermentation)
Stainless steel
6 months lees ageing

5. 2019 Themis Rosé (Our mother)

A pale but vividly-coloured Mavro rosé. Fragrant strawberry and red cherry confectionary, a little like white chocolate. Delightfully sweet-fruited, reflecting a whole melange of red-berried fruit. Open, approachable and sporting sufficient freshness and vinosity to provide interest and refreshment. Such a charming rosé, suited to a broad range of dishes and particularly alfresco dining. Scores highly on the 'feel good' charts.

Old vine Mavro grown at 1,150m
Long, cold maceration
Stainless steel fermentation
Used 300-litre oak barrel maturation

6. 2019 O Pervolaris (The Black Snake)

Red Burgundy pale. A surprisingly juicy nose for Mavro. Somewhat Italianate with a ripe black cherry theme on the palate and showing notable restraint, well-resolved finely-grained tannins and modest acidity, though altogether remarkably contained and fresh. Emerging oxidative looseness and mounting complexity are further enhanced by a well-directed savoury theme. Terrific poise. Eminently drinkable already, but will repay a good decade of cellaring and development.

Mavro grown at 1,100m
4-day pre-fermentation maceration
Stainless steel fermentation
3 months maturation in 300-litre oak barrels

7. 2019 Kókkino Baloni (Red Balloon)

Limpid medium/dark ruby. Wow! This is super fragrant at first pour, with vibrant mulberry to the fore. Crunchy strawberry and raspberry join in and vie for supremacy with mulberry on the palate. Super juicy! Grippy but well-resolved tannins and balancing acidity provide palate-cleansing freshness. Something redolent of seaweed keeps on entering the fray. A delightfully approachable wine with a full and charming mid-palate and nascent complexity too. A thought-provoking unoaked rendition of the Yiannoudi theme. Characterful and very well put together. 

Young vines (10 years) grown at 1,000m
Pre-fermentation cold soak
All steel fermentation and maturation
3 months of battonage/lees stirring

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