Greece is home to some of the world’s most interesting grape varieties. For over 4,000 years, the rich, spicy red wines of the relatively frigid Macedonia region, especially those of Naoussa, have been highly regarded. Legend has it that Semele, mother of Dionysus—the Greek god of wine and fertility—called the area home.

Established in 1972, the Naoussa appellation, which covers 1750 acres on the slopes of Mount Vermion, was Greece’s first. Though Preknadi, a freckled local white grape, is making a small comeback, vineyards here are planted almost exclusively to Xinomavro, a grape that yields earthy, juicy, savory, tannic, and acidic reds. Like Southern Italy’s Negroamaro, which translates as “black-bitter,” Xinomavro means “acid black.” Neither translation makes for a great selling point in the mainstream market; the pronunciation of the latter doesn’t help (The first half of the word sounds like “casino” without the “a”: k-SEE-noh.) But for connoisseurs of Italian reds, Naoussa is a natural alternative. Greek wine expert Nico Manessis calls the appellation “our Burgundy. We should not worry so much about the high acid and light color of our wines; we have grand cru potential here.” But given Xinomavro’s Nebbiolo-like bite and grip, Naoussa could as easily be compared to Piedmont.

Alpha Estate Syrah-Xinomavro Axia Florina
Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa
Diamantakos Xinomavro Naoussa
Domaine Karydas Naoussa
Estate Chrisouhoou Xinomavro Naoussa
Katogi & Strofilia Averoff Naoussa
Kir-Yianni Xinomavro Ramnista Naoussa
Thymiopoulos Vineyards Uranos Naoussa
Thymiopoulos Vineyards Young Vines Naoussa

© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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