The 2020 vintage was painful, and will never be forgotten. Not so much for the quality of the vintage but because it was the year Covid affected our lives. Halfway through the year, green harvest was sponsored by the government, a couple of months before harvest. Most wineries did not risk high production and produced an estimated 20% less wine on average.
2020 was also painful for financial reasons and not just their influence on the quality of the wines. Because winemakers restricted their production most of them sourced the fruit from their own vineyards; additional amounts taken selectively from the best of the independent vignerons.
The first tastings of 2020 are very encouraging. We experienced a wet winter, the third year in a row, and a mild spring. However, the hot summer (mid-June to mid-September) resulted in less production but with grapes with more concentration in their aromas and flavours.
Finally, the mere fact that 2020 vintage was not released early resulted in less nervy and more ready whites to drink. They seem to be ready now for consumption. In pre Covid years, because of excessive consumption that resulted to high demand, many wineries were forced to release their new vintage as early as November.
I have visited some wineries and tested the 2020 vintage.
2020 Makarounas Winery En Archi, Xynisteri, P.G.I. Pafos, Abv 12%
Makarounas En Archi meaning ‘at the beginning’ used be a blend of Xynisteri and Chardonnay. This is the second vintage, and is 100% Xynisteri. Pale straw colour, this wine which is reminiscent of hot climate Sauvignon Blanc, marries pure aromatics with balanced acidity. It shows freshness and precision, that come from this noble Cypriot variety meticulously farmed on the gypsum crystal laden soil of Letymbou in Paphos. It prances out of the glass with bold, flamboyant floral scents of white flowers, honey-drizzled pears, tropical notes of green mango and melon, pineapple, banana and apricot. The medium bodied palate has silkiness to the texture with citrus – grapefruit and lime – and tropical fruit flavours finishing on lingering mineral and green almond notes. Enjoy with green salads, feta cheese and goat cheese, a great companion to fried fish and seafood as well as grilled chicken. (€8.50, Distributed by Bottles)
2020 Tsiakkas Xynisteri, P.G.I. Lemesos, Abv 13%
Over the last few years, the Tsiakkas team has focused more and more on Xynisteri with experimentation using different wine making techniques. However, to taste the stainless steel vinified 2020 Xynisteri was a revelation. This is live and refreshing! The cold fermentation in the stainless-steel tanks captures the true and unadulterated essence of the varietal. Pale yellow with green tints, on the nose intense notes of white flowers, stone fruits, citrus, nectarines, with tropical fruit background and aromatic herbs. Some mineral notes on the palate, crispy and vibrant with clean flavours of citrus fruit and aromatic herbs, with grapefruit flavoured aftertaste making a deliciously satisfying finish. A brilliant aperitif, enjoy it also with grilled fish and seafood or roasted lemon chicken. (€7.50, distributed by Oenous)
2020 Kolios Winery Persefoni, P.G.I. Pafos, Abv 13%
Another Xynisteri from high altitude vineyards, mainly sourced from the Panayia region. This Xynisteri-based dry white has a brilliant, translucent yellow colour with greenish hue. Famous for its explosive fruit aromas and light to medium body, this fresh Xynisteri has a pale-yellow green colour with star bright clarity. Passion fruit, grapefruit and white peach fruit flavours, hints of green herbs and lemon blossom, as well as elderflower. More citrus on the palate on a core of grapefruit bitterness, green herbs with a decent concentration of crisp acidity, especially on the herbal finish. Fantastic aperitif or lunch wine, a great accompaniment to summer salads, poultry and shellfish or fried fish. €6.50
2020 Kolios Winery Iris, P.G.I. Pafos, Abv 13%
Iris, like Persefoni, has established itself. Pale yellow colour with greenish hues. A mineral and expressive wine with great aromatic intensity. Upfront notes of perfumed white fruit give way to citrus fruit like grapefruit and mandarin, and then green apple and aromatic herbs competing with lemon blossoms. Some tropical notes too appear at the back. The herbaceous character is strong but not overpowering. The palate is fresh with crispy acidity and juicy citrus, some lingering lime pith and more grapefruit than anything else and herbal finish. €8
2020 Tsiakkas Winery Rodinos, Organic, P.G.I Lemesos, Abv13.5%
The blend of this vegan certified wine is 30% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 40% Vamvakada. Vegan wines usually are not fined using an animal-based fining agent or have been allowed to self-clarify over a longer period of time. The grapes are sourced from Krasochoria and Pitsilia regions. Vibrant, strawberry colour, the nose is spicy with peach, ripe strawberries and pomegranate as well as nectarine aromas. The mouth bright with flavours of raspberry and strawberry, blood orange and pink grapefruit, with mouthwatering acidity giving focus to a long finish with more flavours of pink grapefruit, briny mineral and citrus blossom. Enjoy it with charcuterie platters, Cypriot meze, pasta with seafood and tomato sauce and also with summer fruit salads. (€8, distributed by Oenus)
2020 Kyperounda Winery Akti Rosé, P.G.I Lemesos, Abv 13%
This is a wine to celebrate the Mediterranean art of living! It is presented in an original glass bottle with Vinolok glass closure. The blend is 80% Lefkada red grape and 20% Mavro grape sourced from Pitsilia region. A soft pale brilliant pink colour with blush tints, developing over time towards orangey nuances. The bouquet releases aromas of summer red fruits, cassis and redcurrant, aromatic herbs and sweet spice. Floral notes of rose along with hints of grapefruit complete the picture. The finish is fresh, offering notes of candy. On the palate the impression is fresh and full, complex with a great aromatic persistence and balance. Pairs well as an aperitif or with shellfish and subtly spicy dishes, summer fruit salads and soft cheeses, also enjoy with sushi. (€13, distributed by Photiades Distributors)