Don’t ask me what Xinomavro tastes like (answer: it tastes like Xinomavro!)
Last night, Tracie P and I opened a bottle of the 2004 Grand Reserve Naoussa by Boutari, a new vintage for us.
I’ve tasted a lot of Boutari’s Naoussa over the last year, including some older vintages stretching back to the 1980s. I also got to taste older vintages from other top producers when I was in New York this spring for the Greek wine events.
The 2004 was fresher and cleaner than the 2003. Where the seemingly hotter vintage 03 has a dominant stewed tomato note and a richer mouthfeel, this wine was bright and was dominated by red berry and wild berry fruit — probably my favorite bottling of the wine in recent vintages.
The 2003 received high praise and scores from leading English-language wine publications, imho, because the riper and richer nature of the vintage appeals greatly to the American sensibility.
It was the first time I tasted the 04 vintage but I believe it will be remembered as a “classic” expression of this unique grape and perhaps one of the more varietally expressive vintages in recent memory: Xinomavro is one of those intriguing red grapes that captures power in a light-bodied wine, tannin in a bright color, fresh fruit balanced by savory tannin.
I couldn’t help but think of the conundrum that has presented itself over and over this year as I’ve been working on and participating in the Boutari Social Media project: what grape is Xinomavro like? Many compare it to Pinot Noir and the worst offenders compare it to Nebbiolo. (BTW, f I hear one more person say that Mt. Etna is the new Burgundy, I’m going to heave!)
Xinomavro doesn’t taste like any of these. It does, however, belong (not genetically but categorically) to the noble family of red grapes — Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Aglianico, Pignolo, or Trousseau, for example — where light color and body are combined with powerful tannin and structure (Grignolino, believe it or not, is another Italian red grape in this group.)
While the wood on the 04 Naoussa needs some time to integrate with the wine, I’m looking forward to what this wine is going to do in the cellar and a few bottles will sit side-by-side with my 04 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco.
Don’t ask me what grape it tastes like: it tastes like Xinomavro!Boutari, Xinomavro comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.