Micro-vinification at the Vouni Panayia winery is producing some wines that are not just uniquely Cypriot, but to the area the grapes are grown
Micro-vinification is a winemaking technique used often for experimental batches of wine where the wine is fermented in small, specialised vats. It allows a viticulturist to express the most natural, unadultered characteristics of a single terroir, or vineyard block.
The geological composition of certain vineyard soils is particularly fascinating, highlighted by the Vouni Panayia Appellation and the trials of the Kyriakides family with micro-vinification. From the summit of the plateau or ledge of Vouni, with its clay, gypsum soil, the land begins to slope steeply then more gently, and the soil becomes more of a chalky clay, with varying proportions of limestone. A study of the soils carried out by the Kyriakides clan – sons Yiannis, Pavlos and Petros – has allowed vineyard management to focus on a micro-cru philosophy, which is far more precise than typical parcel management.
Andreas Kyriakides, owner of the winery, has always dreamed of making wines from indigenous varieties. When he started, way back in 1987, he used Cabernet Sauvignon as the flagship wine of the winery. He had a singular purpose, though, to develop and promote the local varieties. When he was pleased with Maratheftiko, out went the Cabernet.
Today the family owns more than 25 hectares (ha) of vineyards lying between 800 and 1,150 meters altitude. They certainly benefit from the cooler and wetter weather that high altitude vineyards enjoy.
When we visited the winery back in September, we knew we were going to taste something completely different. Andreas has planted the indigenous white varieties of Xynisteri, Promara and Spourtiko, Morokanela and the reds Maratheftiko, Yiannoudi and Ntopio Mavro. However, we were going to try six whites and one rosé from indigenous grapes.
In each bottle there is a story that is depicted on labels expertly designed by Marios Karystos. The stories were inspired by Andreas’ childhood adventures, scenes from the vineyards, from family friends, Panayia village itself. They were inspired also by old method of wine production and the village of Panayia or from the nickname of the varieties. They are catchy and funny, animated and colourful. For the majority, though, what is in the bottle is what matters. You will not be disappointed.
2017 The Young Mountain Climber – Spourtiko
The story on the label takes us back in time when young Andreas and his friend were climbing the rocky Vouni region. Andreas, proud of this difficult achievement, was rewarded with the beautiful view around him. It was at this spot that he had a vision, that one day that he should be involved in winemaking using local varieties.
Spourtiko best justified its existence by fertilising the Maratheftiko. This fragile-skinned, green-gold variety is early to mid-ripening and surprisingly aromatic. Cold-soaked cool fermentation of uncrushed grapes as well as extended lees-ageing. Brilliant straw yellow with golden hues. This wine is fresh and lovely with appealing minerality, flowery nose, its aromas and flavours of ripe apples and citrus peel play delicately on the palate. €16.60
2017 Our Village Xynisteri
Xinisteri is widely planted in Panayia. This white is dedicated to the village of Panayia and its heroic vignerons. Cold soak, wild yeast fermentation and extended lees work have created a layered complexity. The Xynisteri shows the fragrance of evergreen shrubs and herbs that typifies the Paphos forest. It hints at aromas of pine and mint coupled with ripe stone fruit and sweet citrus. The palate is at once vibrant and textural and finishes with lingering acidity. €16.60
2017 The Tsaousis (Police Captain) and Aspri Fraoula (White Strawberry)
Same variety but two different names depicted on the label. This is a rarely seen variety undergoing cool fermentation in steel vats. It is sourced from family vineyards sitting as high as 1,150m. Straw yellow in colour, with greenish reflections, this wine offers intense and fragrant aromas of stone fruits, pineapple and aromatic herbs with a touch of minerality. On the palate it is fruity, fresh and savoury with citrus and mineral notes. Good overall balance. €16.60
2017 King Chameleon Promara
Humorous label of a chameleon dressed as a king, a reptile often found in vineyards famous for changing colour according to its environment. Promara is from Kampos tis Rigenas vineyards and is made protectively stainless-steel tank. This is a serious Promara that takes on the weight and intensity of a serious unoaked chardonnay with dried-apple and pineapple character. Full and layered with focused and lively acidity that follows through to a vivid and intense finish of fruit and acidity. €16.60
2017 The Biggest Mushroom Promara
The Promara fruit is also taken from the same vineyard as King Chameleon but with a different vinification method that takes on an oxidative richness from alcoholic fermentation and maturation in 300-liter French oak barrels. Promara here reveals a yellow colour with green highlights. The nose is delicately minty with aromas of white fruits. The palate is frank and balanced with mineral and smoky notes. The finish is fresh and very charming. Andreas loves picking wild mushrooms, and all the family remembers when he managed to find the biggest mushroom in the region. €16.60
2017 The Woman in the Old Wine Press Morokanella
Morokanella is another rare variety, though it is becoming very popular. An ode to a woman seen here crushing the grapes using her feet. It was vinified in stainless-steel tanks and kept on its lees for six months. Straw yellow colour with light golden hues. Complex on the nose with floral notes, white flowers with stone and Mediterranean spices, sage, rosemary and mint. The taste is persistent, full and well balanced by the mineral and lemony notes and bright acidity. There is certainly a great future for Morokanella. €16.60
2017 Kir Michalis Mavro Ambelissimo Rosé
A surprise rosé of unbelievable quality that made me rethink the qualities of Mavro, well at least from certain vineyards. Mr Michalis is a close friend of Andreas who also lives in the village. This assertive, medium-bodied wine has delicate aromas of strawberries, citrus and violets. Crisp flavours of raspberry, strawberry and fresh lemon zest. Enjoy chilled on a sunny day. €16.60