It’s tough enough these days if you’ve got an established “brand” on the wine shelves of the world. Everyone’s got their struggles. The Chileans are trying to get everyone to trade up, the Argentinians are trying to say they’ve got more than just Malbec, even the French are trying to reinvent most of the famous regions to the new audiences. So if you’re barely on the wine map (so to speak), then do you really stand a chance? If you’re Cyprus you do!
Yup, I said it. That word “terroir” again. Basically it’s a term for every natural thing that affects the plant. Soil, climate, slope, aspect, all that jazz. Well now the wineries have relocated to the hills, you’ve got the incredible heat, mixed with the breeze coming off the Med, all being tempered by cooler temperatures high up in the mountains. Kyperounda actually has the highest winery in Europe, at 1300m above sea level. Don’t fancy hand picking that harvest!!
Emphasis On Local Grapes
Wine geeks like me wax lyrical about local grapes. We’ve been called up on it, and rightly so, in the past by winery owners that point out that to make a profit you can’t throw some random grape out there and expect the consumers around the world to just go with it. Well I hear that, but what if you were to make it a premium product actually aimed at wine geeks. Maybe that’s a different story? The whites made from Xynisteri, and the reds from Maratheftiko and Yiannoudi (discovered in the back garden of a bloke called Yiannis a few years back!) are worth the admission fee.
A Star Product
To carry the day, it always helps to have your star player. For Cyprus it’s all about their sweet wine, Commanderia. Traditionally made from a mix of Xynosteri and Mavro, it’s a lusciously sweet dessert wine, that’s just like drinking liquid caramel. I know!!!! I tried aged ones and young ones and loved them both. I’m clearly not alone as Tsiakkas’ 2008 Commaderia walked away recently with a 94 point score from (in)famous wine journo Robert Parker.
The thing that struck me the most, even more so than the wines (although they were great), was that the winemakers were not playing games. In the room there were umpteen winemakers in their 20s and 30s, who’ve trained all over the world. It’s not just a case of heading to Greece or somewhere close. These guys have ticked off Australia, Davis in California, Geisenheim in Germany, and Bordeaux in France between them. It’s a lot of investment in themselves, and now in their wines.
The Cypriots have got every chance of getting themselves firmly on the wine map with all these ingredients. Good luck to them!