The following post is the fourth in a series of Greek wine basics. It’s been transcribed from Konstantinos Lazarakis MW’s The Wines of Greece (London, Mitchell Beazley, 2005, currently out of print). While Lazarakis’ book is difficult to find these days, it remains THE number-one resource for information — technical and historical — on the wines of Greece. We highly recommend it. You’ll find an archive for our Greek Wine Basics series in the right-hand navigation of our home page.
Naoussa overlooks the plain of central Macedonia, at altitudes ranging from 150 to 400 metres (492 to 1,312 feet). There are nine villages in the appellation, including Naoussa, and the soils are a patchwork of limestone, loam, sand, and clay. The climate is cooler than the lower areas of Imathia but not as cold as Florina. Northern wines can be an inhibiting factor, not because of their severity but because of their chilling effect, sometimes resulting in spring forsts. The prefecture of Thessaloniki has stronger winds in comparison, but in Naoussa the highest winds happen during April and May, when vine growth is young, while further east the most intense winds are during the summer months. Growers tyr to select sheltered sites, usually with a southeasterly aspect.
Naoussa is a mono-varietal appellation, dedicated entirely to Xinomavro. This is the region where the variety excels, producing some of its best wines. Clonal selection is important, with most Naoussa stock delivering more tannin and fruit than, for example, the early maturing clone of Velvendos. In Naoussa, harvest starts at the end of September, but the complete harvest across all parts of the region spans around three weeks. October has three times as much rain as September, making late-ripening vintages a problem.