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The Xinomavro Grape


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About Xinomavro

(Synonyms: Csinomavro, Mavro, Mavro Naoussis, Mavro Naoustino, Mavro Xyno, Naouses Mavro, Naoustiano, Naoystiro Mavro, Negroska Popolka, Niaoussa, Naoustino, Pipoliko, Popolko, Xinogaltso, Xynomavro, Xynomavro Bolgar, Xynomavro Naoussis, Xynomavro of Náoussa, Xynomavron, Zinomavro, Zynomavro)

Background

Map showing Greek Macedonia

Xinomavro (also often spelled Xynomavro) is a red-wine grape originating in Greece, more particularly in northwestern Greece, in the Imathia region of Macedonia, in what are now the monovarietal appellations of Náoussa and Amynteo; Náoussa is often regarded the best source. Xinomavro is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class grapes.

There seem some differences of opinion on how “Náoussa” should be spelled: some sources only put in one "s". We have tried to follow the winemakers’ preferences wine by wine, but refer to the class as a whole with the two–"s" spelling, which seems historically accurate (Νάουσσα).

Xinomavro is not a wine of our times (in any sense). It is a tricky devil in the vineyard: if the vineyardist lets it go, hoping to obtain quantity, quality takes a nosedive, and thin, acidic plonk results; but neither can it be made into the sort of huge Parkerized, internationalized, Shiraz-like red that is so popular today. It can only, made with care and skill, be itself, a red more like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo in that it trades on delicacy and requires some nontrivial bottle age to get to where it should be.

Nor is it a fruit-forward “jammy” wine: its flavors are (as you will see below) variously described, but almost never in red-fruit terms. Tomato, olive, spice, and earthiness are the recurring descriptors. And it is high-acid and high in tannins (which is why it both bears and usually requires that bottle aging). If you are interested in wines that require some care from both the wine maker and the wine drinker, this will be your sort of wine; if you want a fruit bomb, look elsewhere.

At least one writer observes that there are now two distinct styles of Xinomavro emerging: “traditional”, with high tannins and a need for nontrivial amounts of bottle aging; and “modern”, vinified to be more fruit-forward and drinkable young. That last is relatively new, and it looks like many observers think it inappropriate for this varietal (though there are certainly at least a few successful versions).

Factoid: One obstacle to Xinomavro popularity outside Greece is the matter of how to pronounce it, which can embarrass some people. Fortunately, there are some videos on YouTube that can relieve your stress. (ksee-NOH-mah-vroh, if you don't like video links.)

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Some Descriptions of Xinomavro Wines

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Some Xinomavros to Try

(About this list.)

Argatía Xinomavro

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Dio Fili Xinomavro
(Don’t confuse thios with any of their Xinomavro-based rosés.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Alpha Estate “Hedgehog Vineyard” Xinomavro

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Thymiopoulos “Young Vines” Naoussa

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Boutari Naoussa

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Kir-Yianni “Ramnista”. It’s not a huge jump up in ratings from the wines listed above—which are each pretty good—but also it’s not a huge jump up in price, either.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Thursday, 16 January 2020, at 11:17 pm Pacific Time.