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25 October 2022

The wines of Naxos

By Wojciech Bonkowski

Naxos is the largest of the Cycladic islands, with an illustrious history and flourishing agriculture. Although the beautiful Chora capital and the seaside resorts attract an increasing number of visitors, the island is less dependent on tourism than its smaller neighbours and has a very rural feel to the interior. Kitron, the local lemon liqueur, is much more popular than local wine, but as elsewhere on the islands, quality winemaking is starting to develop, albeit on a small scale. Four companies now offer bottled wine, though plenty of grapes are fermented for home use; some are even sent to other islands (see The Wines of Syros).

Winery Saint Anna

This anecdotal 1-stremma (0.1 hectares) estate is run by 25-year-old Manolis Petrakis and operates an active wine tourism programme, with a tasting of local products alongside the wines. Visitors who undertake the 20-minute drive from Chora will find a pretty inland valley full of olive groves and a tiny nostalgic shrine of St Anna from the 9th century with some extant old frescoes, lovingly looked after by Manolis and his family. I visited on the eve of the saint’s feast on 25 July, when the shrine was adorned with flowers and flags in anticipation of the only annual visit by a priest…

Athiri, Muscat, Assýrtiko, and Fokianó are grown here, and the wines are made randomly in a dry or semi-sweet style. They are mostly oxidised and volatile and present local interest at best. If anything, the Red Sweet 2020 from sun-dried Fokianó was drinkable, with pleasant plummy and figgy fruit


This estate is the quality leader in Naxos, making a name for itself with its organic semi-“natural” wines, which are available notably at Athens’ Heteroclito. I did not visit the winery but tried two wines:

Tranábelo Potamisi Single Vineyard 2020: 12.6% abv. This presents the usual golden apple profile of the increasingly visible Potamisi grape, with good mineral saline tension. Simple, really, but pleasant enough. 86

Tranábelo Makrydimitris Rosé 2020: A blend of Mandilariá, Potamisi, Monemvasiá and Aïdani, this has a pale Provence-like colour but riper, rounder fruit with something intriguingly floral. With moderate acidity, a kiss of tannins, and plenty of tang, this is a delightful, characterful island rosé. 89

Korres The Island / To Nisí Rosé 2020: 12.5%. From Fokianó. A dark extracted rosé style, though, avoids phenolic excess. Syrupy fruit on the palate, with lowish acid, this rich wine failed to deliver what is expected from a rosé: refreshment. 84

Promponas Ariadne Naxos White: 11.5%. Promponas is the leading producer of kitron liqueur, with a boutique handily located on Naxos Chora’s waterfront. They also offer a variety of wines in all three colours; this is their premium white, costing around 9€. The good-quality Diam2 cork has the Papagiannakos winery’s name printed on it. From Monemvasiá and Assýrtiko, this shows a pleasant herby, ripe peachy nose. Simple but clean and delicious, less driven than expected from those grapes, but more than adequate for a Naxos white. 87

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