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Cyprus Wine festival deserves a place at the table

The Aes Ambelis winery is located on the slopes of Kalo Chorio Orinis, Nicosia

With Easter coming up some of the wines awarded at the recent Cyprus Wine Festival deserve a place at the table.

Orthodox Easter will be observed next Sunday. In the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most sacred observance and the preparations and customs, including traditional foods and large feasts, remain an important part of modern Cypriot life. Towards the end of Holy Week the preparations for Easter reach a climax.

On Saturday evening, or early Sunday to be precise, just after midnight it is the custom to carry the Eternal Flame home and use it to make the sign of the cross in smoke on the door frame. Once home, everyone gathers around the table for a traditional meal to break the fast. This includes magiritsa soup, tsoureki (sweet bread) and red eggs, which were prepared earlier.

The main focus of Easter Sunday is meat, the spits are set to work and grills are fired up. The customary main attraction of the day is a whole roast lamb or goat (kid) to represent the Lamb of God. However, many prefer oven and stovetop lamb or kid dishes.

Appetizers, such as village salad, olives, tahini and tzatziki are served for guests to enjoy while watching the whole lamb or the traditional lamb or pork Souvla cook on the spit. Ovens are filled with traditional accompaniments and all the trimmings, such as patates tou fournou (potatoes roasted with citrus and oregano) and spanakotyropita (spinach and cheese pie). Great Cyprus wines, ouzo, zivania and other drinks flow.

And to go with this feast, several of the wines awarded two weeks ago at the 12th Cyprus Wine Festival would be recommended.

The award ceremony was held in Nicosia after a competition that saw 36 wineries taking part, with 194 samples submitted for tasting by an international jury. Although there were 177 medals awarded by the jury, only the top 65 were revealed and are known to have won a medal, including five Grand Golds and 60 Gold winners. A great achievement by Cypriot wines.

The wines from these that you could serve at your Easter table do not include only reds. Some have already won also a medal at Thessaloniki International competition too.


2018 Constantinou Winery Agioklima Xynisteri, Lemesos

Brilliant straw yellow with green and golden hues; this wine is delightfully fresh, the nose has an appealing minerality which is evident on the palate, also attractively floral and fruity, full of citrus and mandarin followed by exotic fruit and aromatic herbs typical of the Mediterranean coast. On the palate, it is fresh and crisp with well-balanced acidity and a clean finish. €6.50

2018 Yiaskouris Winery, Dry Xynisteri, Lemesos

The colour is pale yellow with a silvery glint. The wine is crystal and clear. The nose shows beautiful white flowers and yellow fruit, ripe with a touch of small candied fruit and lots of herbs. The mouth has a very expressive and balanced freshness. The flinty minerality springs with a light smokey taste in the mouth. Yiaskouris beautifully extends its aromas with amazing generosity. €7

2018 Aes Ambelis Sauvignon Blanc, Lemesos

Vibrant, intense and effusive! Pale straw yellow with green highlights, this wine offers aromas of lemon grass, lime peel and elderflower, with background notes of white currant, honeysuckle and red pepper. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with white peach, gooseberry and citrus flavours and a dry mineral finish. €14.50

2014 Vlassides Winery Opus Artis, Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon- Shiraz, Lemesos

This is a Merlot dominant red wine where the grape gives its rich body and velvety characteristic, the Cabernet its backbone and the chance to age, and finally Shiraz its dark fruit flavours. The 2014 has a deep ruby colour in the glass. Aromas of red fruit, crushed raspberries, blackberries and jam mingle with notes of orange-spiced tea and blueberry muffin as well as violets. On the palate, a rich entry turns soft and plush, full-bodied with bright red fruit supported by balanced acidity. This is a juicy wine, with satisfying depth and length. €18

2015 Constantinou Winery, Shiraz, Lemesos

Costas Constantinou was always famous for his Shiraz, and it was about time to be rewarded with a gold. Deep purple-black coloured, this is a juicy avalanche of grilled fruit and game, this vintage offering abundant aromas and flavours of classic meaty, gamy, smokey Syrah with blackberry, blueberry, black plum, savoury spices and black tea. Decadently fruity in the mouth, the palate is packed with black fruits and exotic spices. The layers of bold richness are beautifully held together with integrated, ripe tannins that offer tremendous promise for many years of cellaring. €9

2017 Ktima Hatzipavlou Maratheftiko, Lemesos

A dark rustic red, the 2017 vintage features rich fragrant scents of blueberries, coffee beans, leather and a hint of pomace, enhanced by notes of violet, anise and wildflowers. Entry on the palate is silky, then builds with flavours of dark berry crumble and shaved chocolate. Tannins start off soft, holding onto their softness and fine texture even as they become more pronounced. This is a wine that fills and coats the mouth, leading into an extremely long finish marked by flavours of coffee beans and dark cocoa. €13

2016 Ktima KEO Shiraz-Merlot, Lemesos

An almost 50/50 blend, this alluring and unashamedly bold Shiraz and Merlot is aged in oak for 12 months. It has hints of spiced plums, blackberry jam and cherry all at the fore and finishes with coffee cream, licorice and vanilla. Full bodied with vibrant berry fruit characteristics, yet elegant with restrained tannins, resulting in a soft mouthfeel. This 2016 blend is sure to be a knockout with roast lamb! €11

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