Photo by Lauren Mowery.
Photo by Lauren Mowery.
The Boutari family went to Santorini in mid to late 80s and the first harvest was in 1986. Since then a lot has changed in the way wine is produced in this unique island. Vine growers in Santorini used to harvest in September and the wines that were produced were very high in alcohol and more “heavy” wines.
We had a lot of convincing to do but finally growers realized that in order to produce high quality white wines then harvest time should be in early August. And this is the way it has been happening ever since!
Harvest 2012 for the dry white wine, Santorini Boutari is officially over and we are expecting another great vintage.
There’s no other way for me to begin this post than by stating plainly and clearly: I was wrong. At every tasting I have attended or led and in every post and transliteration I have published here since the Boutari Social Media Project launched in April 2010, I have incorrectly transliterated the grape name Xinomavro.*
The correct pronunciation — as I learned recently on my trip to Greece, thanks to Constantine Boutari (above) — is:
The Greeks are an extraordinarily generous people, who greet their visitors and guests with a hospitality and graciousness rivaled only by their illustrious past and present as the curators of the cradle of Western Civilization.
When you consider that ancient Greek was the language of the earliest redactions of the Judeo-Christian Bible and that the Greek koiné was a language spoken throughout the Mediterranean basin (including Palestine and Italy, btw) in antiquity, it’s easy to understand why the Greeks are so tolerant of mispronunciations of their vocabulary.
For nearly a year and a half, I have been working in and around Greek wine, often coming into contact with Greek winemakers and Greek-national restaurateurs. Yet no one has ever correctly my erroneous pronunciation of Xinomavro.
Not until last week, when I had the great fortune to lunch with Constantine Boutari, the owner and namesake of his family’s winery.
With avuncular tenderness, he reached across the table after we had finished the meal and put his hand over mine: “My dear Jeremy,” he said, “I am very excited about the [Boutari Social Media] project. But we must correct your pronunciation of Xinomavro. The correct pronunciation is ksee-NOH-mah-vroh.”
I asked Constantine if I could film him pronouncing the grape name correctly and the above — and very simpatico — video is the result.
There are different conventions used to represent the letter x (xi) in Latin alphabet transliteration (and in Greeklish, as Greek transliteration is often called). I have chosen to represent it here as ks because I believe it best renders the sound.
It was a thrill to meet Constantine, who is a delightful and charming man. And we had a lot of fun with the video we made last week. I have also included, below, a shorter video with winemaker Vasilis Georgious — who oversees production of Boutari’s flagship appellation Naoussa — pronouncing the grape name. Please feel free to repost either one of the videos on your blog or for your students.
* I had erroneously reported tsee-NOH-mah-vroh, where the xi was incorrectly represented by tsee.
Here’s what Reverse Wine Snob, one of of our favorite wine bloggers, had to say about Naoussa Grande Reserve 2007…
The 2007 Grande Reserve Naoussa Boutari begins with a really enticing, delightful aroma of ripe blackberry, leather, cinnamon, vanilla and spice. Just a wonderful bouquet. The wine tastes smooth and succulent with mild but firm tannins and has great balance between fruit and oak. It gets even better as it has time to breathe. The delicious juicy fruit turns tart on the medium-long, dry finish and leaves you with some lingering olive notes. This is an extremely drinkable wine with great intensity of flavor — really delicious stuff. I’m a fan of Xinomavro.