Alpha Estate, Xinomavro, Hedgehog Vineyard, Amyndeon 2017 | Greece

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the Week – June 21, 2021

Amyndeon (Amynteo) is an appellation in the east of the Florina district in the Greek region of Macedonia. It is named after the town of the same name. It is the northernmost wine-growing area in Greece. The vineyards, with their characteristic sandy soil, cover about 1,800 acres of vines at an altitude of 1,700 feet to 2,100 feet above sea level. About half of the vineyards are located between the Petres and Vegoritida lakes. This plays an important role in the microclimate which makes it perfect for viticulture. The appellation Amynteo applies to red wine and, as an exclusive novelty for Greece, also to rosé wine and rosé sparkling wine. All wines must be made from the only authorized varietal, Xinomavro (locally also called Mavro Naoussis).

Xinomavro gets its name from the Greek words “xino” (sour) and “mavro” (black), so translated literally Xinomavro is the “sour-black” grape. While its name describes its flavor profile to a degree, “black” and “sour” don’t even come close to encapsulating the grape’s deep character. Unlike other workhorse varietals, Xinomavro maintains its standing as a contender to world-class collector wines. Wine enthusiasts frequently compare Xinomavro with Nebbiolo, giving it the pseudonym of “Greek Nebbiolo.” It is also often compared to the famous Barolo wines of Italy.

Xinomavro wines tend towards the dry side with a medium-full body. Their aggressive tannins, acidity and high alcohol content (usually around 13%-15%) make them an adaptable and sophisticated wine. Yet, hidden in the “black and sour” grape we find notes traditionally associated with lighter wines.

Alpha Estate is located in the heart of the Amynteo. The estate’s vineyards cover over 160 acres situated on a plateau around 2,000 feet above sea level. Moderate temperatures and heavy winter rains create ideal conditions for the grapes to ripen. Poor soils with good drainage create a mild water deficit, resulting in small berries with intense red color and concentrated flavors and aromas.

Alpha Estate is presided over by Angelo Iatridis, considered by many to be Greece’s most promising winemaker. Angelo cultivates international varietals as well as indigenous Greek varietals, and all the wines are crafted in Alpha’s state-of-the-art gravity-flow winery.

Alpha Estate, Xinomavro, Hedgehog Vineyard, Amyndeon 2017

Origin: Amyndeon (Amynteo), Greece
Varietals: 100% Xinomavro
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested Retail Price: $24.00
ABV: 13.5%

The grapes undergo destemming, no crushing, cold soak–skin contact, and an alcoholic fermentation at gradually increasing temperatures. The wine is kept on the lees for eight months with regular stirring. It is aged in French oak barrels for one year and then an additional year in bottle.

The wine shows a bright, purple red color. The nose is complex revealing red berry fruit, roses, leather and spice. It is nicely textured with an abundance of red fruit, ripe tannins and mouthwatering acidity.

Suggested food pairings: barbecued meats, spicy sausages, sautéed red peppers in olive oil, rabbit stew, full bodied cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Alpha Estate official website