Getting to know Greek wines: Naoussa and the Grape Xinomavro

Naoussa

Located in Macedonia in the north of Greece, approximately one hour east Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, is the wine region of Naoussa. Naoussa was one of the first regions in Greece to receive protected denomination of origin (PDO) status in 1971 and is the home to the native grape Xinomavro.

Xino, which means “sour,” and mavro, which means “black,” is the single grape variety permitted under the PDO Naoussa. Xinomavro is one of two red varieties of Greek wine that puts the country on the international wine map.

The vineyards of Naoussa are at 1,150 feet. Influence from the Aegean and Ionian seas has resulted in a mosaic of soils, including rocks and clay, throughout the region. The region experiences a Mediterranean climate with strong continental influences. The days reach high temperatures and the nights reach low temperatures. The climate, combined with humidity and high fog, makes Xinomavro the last grape to harvest each vintage.

Xinomavro is a well-structured, full-bodied red wine but can also be made into a white wine, rose wine, sparkling wine, passita and grappa. Xinomavro is a terroir expressive variety that changes character as it changes locations. Typical aromas include spices, ripe tomatoes, black olives, violets, wild strawberries, dark chocolate and leather.

Xinomavro is not an extracted varietal; it is a wine that has high acids and tannins but is also elegant. It has great aging capabilities and is often compared to Nebbiolo from Piedmont. Stylistically there are many similarities but price-wise, xinomavro from Naoussa is very affordable, starting as low as $15.

Read the complete story and meet some of the producers of Naoussa at Napa Valley Register.

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