The Rosé Wines of Cyprus
By Sotiris Neophytidis
In my last article, I described a new wave of Cypriot wines, that has given rise to a discussion about the Cypriot wine industry. This time I will be talking about the rosé wine scene; consumption data together with corresponding changes and trends. Rosé wines are taking the fast track in Cyprus, and many wineries produce even two different styles. Wines with noticeable residual sugar are still a significant part of the scene. Nevertheless, things are evolving rapidly, and there is a development towards drier styles.
Kyriakos Kolokasides, owner of La Bodega Cava in Paphos, adds that the on-trade segment of buying rosé wine increased from 3% in 2008 to 15-20% currently. He adds that “Consumers in 2008 did not have any need for or did not ask for rosé wine, but since then I noticed a little boom in the sales of rosé each year, which have now reached 20% of the total sales in a year.”
George Loukakis, Head Sommelier of Parklane Hotel, says that his first experience with the Rosé Wines of Cyprus dates back to 2008, at a wine fair in Athens. He was surprised with Zambartas Rosé, and its almost ruby colour. Visually it had the appeal of a light red. In the years that followed, Cypriot rosé wines were pale red, in their majority, with pronounced ripe fruit aromas and flavours and not the Provence style pale onion skin. Loukakis has noted an annual increase of 5% in the sales and consumption of rosé wines over the last ten years.
There is no doubt that during the last ten years, restaurants and hotels everywhere in Cyprus are more thirsty for rosé wines. Most of these include at least two choices by the glass, nowadays. On the wine list of Amara hotel, where I work as the Head Sommelier, we have at least three choices by the glass where we cover all the styles of rosé, from the darker-coloured to the onion skin Provence style.
Michalis Constandinidis, the winemaker of Ezousa Winery, comments on the winemaking approach and says that ten years ago the grapes used for the rosé production were not of high quality. “Most of the winemakers didn’t pay appropriate attention to the vineyards, as it was a style of wine that was not so famous in Cyprus” he continues. He adds that “nowadays some of the wineries in Cyprus consider rosé wine as a significant style and they allocate vineyards with suitable grapes only to rosé wine production and take appropriate care.”
Now let’s go back to business. Since Yiannis was in Greece with the lockdown, I tasted the wines blind on my own. In the tasting, it was evident that the dark coloured rosé wines are still popular (you can check the photos for that). There are some exceptions, however, with some Cypriot wineries following the trend of making Provence style wines. Another thing I noticed is that high abv rosé wines are also still present. Ιn some cases they lack balance or elegance, an issue producers need to address if they want to raise the quality standards.
Whether rosé wines are darker, similar to those of Tavel in Southern Rhône, or paler in colour, the point should be to get the maximum out of the variety; we need flavour, we need approachability, we also need elegance and complexity. If the right grapes are found and planted in the right terroirs, the winemakers will get the best out of each variety and create wines with character and expression.
1. Lambouris Winery, Summer Blush, Paphos 2018 (12,5%)
(Lefkada-Cabernet Sauvignon). Lambouris is a small boutique winery in Platres region in Omodhos. The Summer Blush has a pale onion skin colour with a nose of white cherries, orchard fruit of white peach and pear with hints of orange blossom. Palate is of medium body, with a delicate expression of the white cherries and the floral character. Quite enjoyable as an everyday drink.
**+ Retail Price:€ 6
2. Ezousa Winery, Gris, Paphos, 2019 (13%)
(Kannaviou village, Maratheftiko, Stainless steel tank fermented, 4 months on the lees). Ezousa Winery is a pioneer in rosé winemaking in Cyprus having extensively worked with local Maratheftiko grape. Ezousa Gris has a pale peach skin colour with a nose of fresh red fruit of cranberries and red cherries. Hints of herbaceous character like dill and mint along hints of creaminess and strawberry yoghurt add to the complexity. Palate is of medium body with the fresh character of red fruit to be expressed by the crisp nature of the Maratheftiko grape. Good finish.
3. Oenou-Yi, Playia Rosé, Limassol, 2019 (13%)
(Xynisteri, Mavro and Maratheftiko, Saignee Method, 900 m.altitude). Oenou-Yi is a winery that focuses on making high-quality wines. Playia Rosé is one of them where the idea to have in the blend of more Xynisteri is to give a more fragrant character to the blend where Mavro and Maratheftiko are co-fermented. Playia Rosé has a pale salmon colour with a pronounced nose of fresh red fruit of cherries, raspberries with an added exotic character of mango and floral of rose petals and Turkish delight. Palate is of medium body with the elegant and perfumed fruit flavours along with the freshness creating a more complex and long finish. A new era for Cypriot Rose?
**** Retail Price:€8,50
4. Makarounas Boutique Winery, Minthy, Paphos, 2019 (12%)
(Lefkada-Cabernet Franc, 22-30 years old bush vines, 3 months on the lees). Makarounas winery, located in Letymbou in Paphos district has the pride to privately own all the vineyards where they make their wines. Something vital as they have the absolute control of the quality of the grapes. Minthy rosé has a pale salmon colour with an explosive nose of stone fruit of white peach, white strawberries and floral like lavender. Light bodied and mineral on the palate (abundant limestone in the area) with flavours of white peach and berries and fresh, crisp finish with a good length and complexity.
***+ Retail Price:€9,30
5. Kyperounda, Akti Rosé, Limassol, 2019 (13%)
(Lefkada-Mavro). Kyperounda Winery is well known for its benchmark Petritis Xynisteri and its very high in altitude vineyards in Pitsilia. They created a new style of rosé wine called Akti the last few years, which is a blend of Lefkada (aka Vertzami in Greece) and indigenous Mavro. It has medium peach skin colour with a pronounced intensity of stone fruit like peach, apricot and orchard fruit of green apple, Asian Pear and floral like rose petals and orange blossom. Palate is of medium body, with the intensity of flavours to be high with a fresh and long finish. A delicious match with Asian cuisine.
**** Retail Price:€14,50
6. Santa Irene, Theoni, Nicosia, 2019 (14%)
(Mavro 100%, 1000-1350 m. altitude, Avg. vines age 120 years, 3 months battonage). Santa Irene is a newly founded winery that is located in the village of Farmakas in Nicosia district. Theoni has a medium pink colour with a nose of fresh red fruit like raspberries, cranberries, complemented by herbs like tarragon, thyme and white lilies. Palate is of medium body, with the fresh red fruit character and a refreshing finish. A gastronomical wine.
*** Retail Price:€7,95
7. Nelion Winery, Imiphos Rosé, Paphos, 2019 (13%)
(Black Muscat 100%, 20 years old vines, 700 m. altitude, 4 months battonage). Nelion winery is located in the Pretori village in Paphos. It is the first and only winery that uses 100% Black Muscat in rosé production in Cyprus. Imiphos has medium intensity of pink colour with a nose of red fruit like red cherries with hints of crunchy white peach and apricot. Palate has medium body with evident red fruit and a fresh crisp finish. Quite enjoyable as an everyday drink
***+ Retail Price:€ 9
8. Vouni Panayia, Pampela, 2019 (13,5%)
(Mavro 90% - Xynisteri 10% ,1150 m. altitude, Stainless steel tank fermented, 3 months on the lees). Vouni Panayia winery is located in Panayia region in Paphos, and it has one of the highest altitude vineyards in the region reaching 1150m and works exclusively with indigenous varieties. Pampela has medium intensity of pink colour with a nose of red fruit like red cherries, raspberries and hints of lavender. Palate is of medium body with a moderate finish and complexity. A simple wine to accompany casual occasions.
**+ Retail Price:€7
9. Santa Irene, Daniel, Nicosia, 2019 (14%)
Santa Irene’s first bottling of Daniel started as a Blanc de Noir, which was made with 100% Mavro. Progressively the style shifted to a Gris with a minimum 2-3 hours of direct pressing. Daniel has a pale onion skin colour with a nose of fresh orchard fruit of Asian pear, green apple and floral like jasmine with a touch of Provencal herbs. Palate is of medium body with the fresh orchard fruit like green apple and crisp finish. A charming wine of good value.
*** Retail Price:€8,25
10. Ekfraseis Winery, Mythodia Rosé, Limassol, 2019
(Mavro, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre,1400 m.altitude, up to 80 years old vines). Christos Vassiliadis established Ekfraseis winery in 2013 and since then has put a lot of effort into producing high-quality, terroir-driven wines. His vineyards reach 1500m of altitude. Mythodia is a Provence style rosé with a pale onion skin colour and a restrained nose of fresh red cherries, cranberries and a touch of orange zest. Light-bodied on the palate with fresh acidity on the moderately long finish. A fresh and enjoyable rosé for every occasion.
**+ Retail Price:€11
11. Vasilikon Winery, Einalia, Paphos, 2019 (13%)
(Syrah 60% and Maratheftiko 40%, Saignee Method)
Vasilikon winery is located in Kathikas region of Paphos district operating since 1993. Einalia is a wine of medium brick-red colour with a delicate nose of fresh and ripe cherries, with herbs of oregano, thyme and a meaty character. Palate is of medium body with delicate red fruit flavours and a juicy finish. A more gastronomic wine rather than an aperitif one.
*** Retail Price:€7,55
12. Tsiakkas Winery, Rodinos, Limassol, 2019 (13%)
(Grenache 30%, Shiraz 30%, Xynisteri 15% and Maratheftiko 25%, 1200 m.altitude, stainless steel fermented). Tsiakkas winery is located in Pelendri village in Limassol region. Rodinos is a wine that blends international grape varieties along with Cypriot grape varieties. It shows a medium brick red colour with a nose of red fruit like red cherries, pomegranate and strawberries. There are hints of lavender and a creamy biscuit aroma. Structured on palate with the fresh red fruit to be present along with creamy texture and good finish. Good aging potential.
***+ Retail Price:€6,64
13. Gerolemo, Maratheftiko Rosé, Limassol, 2019 (13,5%)
(Maratheftiko 100%, Tank fermented, Altitude 900m. avg). Gerolemo Winery is located in Omodhos village which is a traditional wine-village. Gerolemo rosé has a medium intensity of purple pink colour with fresh red fruit like red cherries, cranberries and strawberry yoghurt and hint of tarragon. Palate is of medium body with fresh character and smooth crisp finish. A wine that pairs really well with the local Cyprus cuisine made in a rustic style.
*** Retail Price:€12
14. Lambouri, Rosé, Paphos, 2019 (13,5%)
(Lefkada-Cab.Sauvignon, 900 m.altitude). Lambouri Rosé shows a medium pink colour expressive of crunchy red fruit such as cranberries and raspberries with hints of a herbaceous character of tomato leaf. Medium full-bodied, ripe and zesty with a juicy finish. A wonderful summer wine.
15. Zambartas Single Vineyard Maratheftiko, Rosé, Limassol 2018 (13.5%)
(Maratheftiko 100%, Pachna Region-the largest vineyard on the island planted with Maratheftiko-2ha, Matured in large barrels for 3 months). Following the same philosophy as the Single vineyard Xynisteri, Markos Zambartas produces one of the first wines in Cyprus that sees oak maturation. It has a medium intensity of pink colour. The nose gives aromas of fresh red fruit like cherries, cranberries and pomegranate, there are also hints of toast in the wine, but that doesn’t overwhelm the fruit aromas. The palate is of medium body with the consistent character of freshness as well with nice integration with the wood again. It has the potential of ageing for another 3-5 years.
***+ Retail Price:€11,05
16. Vlassidis, Grifos 3, Limassol, 2019 (13,5%)
(Shiraz and Grenache). Vlassidis has built a strong reputation as high-quality red wine producer. With Grifos the style is more of a Southern Rhone-Tavel wine blending Syrah and Grenache. Grifos 3 delivers a medium red colour with an explosive nose of red fruit and pomegranate. Strawberries and rose petals are detected as well. Medium-full bodied with a consistent flavour profile with red cherries and pomegranate with a crisp finish. A vinous rosé wine with long lasting finish.
***Retail Price:€8 Limited amount of bottles produced which are only available from the winery
17. Tsangarides Shiraz-Maratheftiko, Rosé, Paphos, 2019 (14%)
(Shiraz-Maratheftiko). Tsangarides winery is a small boutique winery located in Lemona region in Paphos. The winery is led by Aggelos Tsangarides who works only with own estate grapes. The wine shows medium pink-red colour with the nose expressive of crunchy red fruit of red cherries, forest fruits, herbs like dill, mint and white pepper. Full-bodied on the palate and more to the riper side rather than the elegant, this is a wine that can work well with food. It has the potential to age for 3-5 years.
*** Retail Price:€7
18. Tsangarides Shiraz Rosé, Paphos,2019(14%)
(Shiraz). This rose follows the same philosophy as the other rose of Tsangarides which it has medium intensity of pink-red colour with the nose showing a crunchy red fruit of red cherries, raspberries.There are hints of meaty character and white pepper.
Palate is of full body with a big round texture and good finish.
19. Kyperounda Rosé, Limassol, 2019 (13,5%)
(Shiraz-Grenache). Kyperounda rosé is a wine that represents the ‘traditional’ way of making rose in Cyprus with a high intensity of red colour along with hints of strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate. There are some hints of rose petal and a meaty character. Palate is of full body, with a rustic character with a fresh and good finish. It can be paired well with local Cypriot cuisine
*** Retail Price:€10
20. Fikardos Rosé, Paphos, 2019 (14%)
(Mataro and Cabernet Sauvignon). Fikardos winery is located in Mesoyi village in Paphos. It is a small boutique winery focusing on local and international grape varieties. Famous for its Valentina its medium-sweet wine the Fikardos family started creating as well a good dry rose edition.
Fikardos rosé has of medium pink colour with a nose of red fruit of cherries,strawberries and hints of rose blossom. Palate is of medium body with a delicate and fresh finish. Quite enjoyable as an everyday drink.
*** Retail Price:€7,75
21. Erimoudes, Lucy, Limassol, 2019 (12,5%)
(100% Mataro, Age of Vines 20 years). Erimoudes winery is located in Koilani village in Limassol region. It is a small boutique and family-owned winery owned by Kostas Erimoudes. Lucy has a medium intensity of red colour with nose of ripe black fruit like blackberries, candyfloss and caramel. Medium bodied and well balanced with delicate but juicy finish. Mostly for the undemanding consumer.
**+ Retail Price:€6
22. Oenou-Yi, Rodambelo, 2019 (13,5%)
(Shiraz, Maratheftiko, Lefkada and Grenache, 850 m.altitude, Stainless steel tank fermented). The Rodambelo rosé from Oenou Yi Winery has a medium pink colour with a nose of forest red fruit like raspberries and gooseberries with hint of tarragon and underlying meaty tones. Medium-full on the palate, ripe and slightly warm with soft tannins and a fairly long finish.This is a wine that shows a more rustic character that can be combined with local Cypriot Cuisine.
*** Retail Price:€9,95
23. Ezousa Winery, Eros, Paphos, 2019 (13,5%)
(Maratheftiko 100%, Stainless steel tank fermented, 2 months on the lees). Eros is the first rosé in Cyprus from 100% Maratheftiko grape and its first vintage is 2007. Ezousa Eros has a medium red colour with a pronounced nose of red fruit like red cherries, strawberries, cranberries and pomegranate. There are hints of floral character like rose petals, lavender and herbs like tarragon and thyme. Palate is of medium-full body with a crunchy and juicy character of red and black fruit and a fresh long finish. A layered wine that can age for at least 3-5 years.
**** Retail Price:€8
24. Zambartas, Koukouvagia Rosé, Limassol, 2019 (12.5%)
(Mataro 100%). Zambartas Koukouvagia has a medium intensity of salmon colour with a nose of fresh red fruit like red cherries and herbs like sage. Palate is of medium body with a fresh and delicate finish. Quite enjoyable as an everyday drink.
**+ Retail Price:€6,95
25. Zambartas Rosé, Limassol, 2019 (12,5%)
(Lefkada-Cabernet Franc). Zambartas Rosé has a medium brick red colour with a nose of fresh red fruit of strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, with minerality and herbs like five spices and white pepper. Medium-bodied on the palate, well-defined with consistent aromas and flavours with a fresh and sweet finish. A gastronomic wine with complexity and ageing potential for 3-5 years.
***+ Retail Price:€10
26. Fikardos,Valentina-Medium-Sweet, 2019 (12,5%)
( Cab.Sauvignon-Mataro and Shiraz). Fikardos winery is a winery located in Mesoyi and its been famous for Valentina rose medium sweet due to its success in the local market. Valentina has a medium pink colour with a nose of red fruits like red cherries, pomegranate there is a more ripe character of blackberries and hints of bramble as well. Palate is of medium body with the sweetness being balanced with the freshness of the wine with good finish. A good pair with Asian Cuisine or even desserts like Pavlova or Fruit Cakes if you are into this style.
Sotiris is currently working as a Head Sommelier at Amara Hotel in Limassol and is preparing him self for the Master Sommelier exam.