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31 March 2020

New Releases: Zafeirakis Malagousia Microcosmos 2019

I have not written about Malagousia in a while. The variety that went  from almost extinction (until the late '60s) to being grown in every corner of the country, exceeding 500 hectares of plantings (close to one-tenth of the Greek vineyard). I have covered the mystery of its origins, conclusions about its styles, its expressions and ageing potential in previous posts. What is left? Let us take a look at its evolution over time. What I think is clear about the course of its diversity is that it has been dynamic in recent years; exciting examples have been produced that add plurality and depth. A bright case is the work of Christos Zafeirakis, which is the reason for this small article, whose new Malagousia will be released under the name Microcosmos.

What does the producer say...

"We have invested in the two Greek varieties Limniona and Malagousia, and when we see something that is special, we bottle it separately. This is the reasoning behind Malagousia Microcosmos, that follows Malagousia and Malagousia Natura as the third Malagousia of the estate. It is a wine that has been handled with great care. With wonderful natural acidity, although I do not mind correcting acidity in particularly hot years, if that is considered necessary for balance and quality. From my perspective, the point is not whether a winemaker will intervene, but how much he will do so.''

The Terroir

Here, we have a single vineyard Malagousia from the vineyard Palaiomylos (Old Mill) in Tyrnavos, Thessalia, which is distinguished by its vines which are approaching 20 years of age. As they get older, they give delicious depth of fruit and much-desired complexity. The old vines, with yields of 50 hl/ha, tremendously low for the variety, combined with the exceptional soil, which is full of flintstone, gives the wine another dimension, with distinctive saltiness and energy. "Is there really a terroir in Tyrnavos?" I asked Zafeirakis and I recorded his view, "In my opinion yes, as long as it is cultivated with care and low yields. Then it emerges. But, when it has been producing huge yields for so many years, then its feel dwindles."

In the winery

Unlike the Malagousia Natura, that comes from the same vineyard and which matures in large barrels of 2400 liters for a year, Microcosmos sees no barrel at all. To ferment with native yeasts, according to the producer, is something very important for the variety, and then the wine remains on the fine lees for almost six months. If Natura were Burgundy, Microcosmos, with its unexpected, sharp, acidity and saltiness, would surely be a Chablis.

The wine

With its alcohol at 12.2% abv and 5.8 g per litre natural acidity in its arsenal, Microcosmos makes a statement. It is not just the delicate nose aromas that smell great; it' is not just the finesse that always characterises Zafeirakis. It's the tension, the freshness, the excellent minerality and the saltiness, along with a top aftertaste that makes up one of the most interesting Malagousias I've tried lately. There will be 8,000 bottles at a price close to 15 euros (domestic market) in wine stores, a price I find very honest for the quality of the wine.

The perfect pairing

Brilliant with cabbage leaves dolmades as shown below.

"We do not need another Malagousia in Greece, but examples that add to the quality potential of the variety. We need good, authentic and, above all, quality Malagousias'," said the father of the variety, Evangelos Gerovassiliou. And Microcosmos is definitely one of these.

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