02 April 2018

Moschofilero: Where from and where to

Moschofilero is a member of the old guard; one of the four original Greek wine Musketeers. The other three are Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro. However, it is the variety that still has a long way to go before it achieves the reputation and acceptance it deserves in the international markets.

This is a challenge with which the producers are faced and they should seize the opportunity to experiment with the variety and present innovative examples. On the one hand, there are “internal” issues that need to be considered like the use of native yeasts, lees ageing and oak maturation. Furthermore, investment in clonal research could be quite beneficial as this could aid in the better understanding of the variety. On the other hand, there are “external” issues like those that regard branding.

As to its beginnings opinions are divided. Some believe that Moschofilero is a mutation of Fileri (Stavrakakis and Kourakou ) and Mavrophilero and Xanthofilero are other mutations of the variety. But, according to others Moschofilero and Fileri are two completely different varieties. The second view holds that Moschofilero is the ‘’mother’’ variety expressed with different clones such as Asprofilero, Xanthofilero and Mavrofilero. Indeed, a puzzle which will need DNA analysis to throw some light on the issue. In a recent discussion with Prof. Koundouras from Thessaloniki University he held that Moschofilero is a dark skinned variety that could get its colour from its state of ripening. ‘’When there is a high level of ripening the colour of the variety is saturated and it becomes black-Mavrophilero, whereas when yields are high it takes on a pinkish or blond colour – Asprofilero and Xanthofilero’’.

Whichever the truth almost all of the Moschofilero planted in Greece (1145 ha/2015 national statistics) is in the area of Mantinia in the Peloponnese. There are also some parcels near Tripoli (approx 100 ha), some in Messinia and some in ancient Olympia (5ha). Nevertheless, these latter are an exception. The reason for this is that producers from other areas seem to believe that this variety can only shine in Mantinia and thus don’t bother planting it. Although it is probable that this is the case, we can’t be sure as it has not been explored outside the broader region of Arcadia, which includes Mantinia.

Terroir, of course, influences its expression; in the high altitude plateau of Mantinia it ripens late (end of September or early October) and develops a floral and peppery character with the top examples showing strong potential to evolve over the 3-5 years following the harvest. At lower altitudes there will be less finesse, riper aromas, more sugar and less acid. Not what is best for balance. 

The classic style, as expressed by stainless steel cool fermentation, is reminiscent aromatically of a Gewürztraminer or a Muscat. Think of rose petals, lemon blossom, citrus fruit with piercing acidity and high levels of freshness. There is some experimentation with oak maturation such as the Tselepos Blanc de Gris, which I find very exciting, but the oak needs to be very gentle; just enough to add a nutty dimension and a creamier touch to the wine. 

Moschofilero is generally vinified as a white wine but recently some rosé versions have been vinified with excellent examples from the wineries of Bosinakis and Troupis. These enrich the aromatic profile of the wines with red fruit like sour cherries and raspberries. Last, but not least, it is a variety that lends itself nicely to the making of sparkling wines; if handling is gentle it can be vinified both in the traditional and charmat method.

A Variety of Moschofileros tasted recently

WHITES

Boutari Moschofilero 2017

Effortless and refreshing with grapefruit and orange, charming summer wine. Delightful without being simple. 88/100

Boutari Oropedio Mantinia 2017

50% matured in old oak. Creamy retaining the floral expression. Oak is almost undetectable providing more weight. Exciting and quite mineral example. 89/100

Lafazanis Geometria 2017

Oily and fresh Moschofilero offering the textbook aromatics of the variety with bright acidity and clean cut finish. Excellent value for money wine. 88/100

Moropoulos Mantinia 2017

New winery project in Mantinia owning 8 ha. First vintage was 2014. Classic rose water scent with complex fennel. This is pretty also on palate maybe too easy but very charming and straightforward. 88/100 

Semeli Nassiakos 2017

Peppery and Muscat scented this is very intense. Palate follows on same beat fresh vibrant and spicy. Exciting. 91/100 

Semeli Fine Lees Moschofilero 2016

Gorgeous expression of the variety with intoxicating aromas but also weight and flesh. It seems that some months of lees contact can do wonders to Moschofilero. (6 months on the lees) 92/100

Skouras Moschofilero 2017

Zingy acidity, refreshing with restraint fruit. Very drinkable and joyful introduction to the variety. Classic joy. 89/100

Troupis Fteri Moschofilero 2017

From three vineyards in Mantinia this is lightly perfumed with lemon blossom, rose petals and citrus peel. Tight refreshing and delicious. A sound introduction to the grape. (12.2% abv) 88/100

Troupis Tomi White, Mantinia 2017

Candied roses on the nose. Spice and peppery as well. Much more complex than Fteri. Stylish and lean but with enough flesh to give grip and body this is excellent as aperitif but can work with many asian/ethnic dishes. (13.2% 3 months on the lees) 90/100

Tselepos Mantinia 2017

A mineralic expression of the variety, taut and structured with solid ageing potential. Clarity of fruit and precision. 91/100

Roses

Boutari Faia Gi 2017

Clone or variety here is Mavrofilero. Very delicate and attractive pale pink colour. Terpenic and estery on the nose followed by plenty of acid and vegetal & citrus fruit on the palate. New promising effort with 4-6 hrs of maceration. 89+/100

Moropoulos Rose 2017

Delicate roses on the nose, sour cherries with hints of sweet spice. 13% abv medium bodied, concentrated example of the variety and the style. From extremely low yields of 40 hl/ha. 89/100

Troupis Tomi Rose 2017

Litharakia vineyard in Mantinia. 24 hrs of maceration and 3 months on the lees. 12.4% abv. Intense and vivacious with turkish delight, jasmine and white pepper along raspberry fruit. Oily and textural with a solid and confident personality. Purity and clarity on the palate with a mineralic finish. 90/100

Tselepos Blanc de Gris 2017 

Just a shade of grey in the colour. Deep, intense aromas of jasmine, sweet nectarines along classic rose petal scents. Spherical and rewarding with plenty of structure to develop over the next 3-5 years. (8 hrs maceration and 3 months oak maturation). 91/100