@WineandSpirits “winery of the year” again for 2013! TY @TQTHomas

Above: Boutari winemaker Yannis Voyatzis as featured in the 2013 Wine and Spirits magazine buying guide. Click here for a downloadable PDF version of the winery’s profile by Tara Thomas.

It’s not easy to find wines for less than $30 that will blossom over a decade in a cellar. And yet Boutari puts out a range of them every year. The most famous examples are the Naoussa reds, from the cool northern climes of Greece, a region of fog-shrouded fir trees and snow-chilled mountain streams. This is where Yannis Boutari set up a winery in 1879, back when the region was struggling to recover from years of war; his hope was to build a business significant enough to bolster the local economy and preserve the vineyards.

Two generations later, Naoussa’s wine scene is peppered with an array of new producers while Boutari’s wines remain the touchstones. the 2008 is pitch[perfect Naoussa, firm, tight and earthy with sweet-tart pomegranate and tomato paste notes lifted with lively acidity. It will easily age another six to ten years, though it could step in for a Barbaresco this winter with a bowl of porcini risotto.

The Reserve 2007 is more elegant, a luminous ray of cherry fruit shinig through a firm mesh of ferrous tannins. It smells of damp earth and pine, bringing up images of the region’s foggy forests and icy mountain streams. It will go another decade in the cellar, maybe more — I’ve tasted Boutari Naoussa with 30 years of age, still vibrant, firm and aromatic.

Boutari also excels in cellar-ready Greek whites. When Constantine and Yannis Boutari set about rejuvenating forgotten terroirs across the country in the 1980s, they started in Santorini, where winemaker Yannis Voyatzis has since proved that assyrtiko, the island’s main variety, is capable of making sophisticated, long-lived whites. The 2011 Santorini, with its chalky, austere flavor, vibrant acidity and rich texture, has a structure not unlike fine Chablis, with a taste that’s redolent of the Mediterranean sea in its salty minerality. It’s gorgeous now with a plate of grilled octopus, but every time I taste it, I think of the 1993 that I tasted last summer — lightly almondy, deeply mineral and very fresh. At $23 (and likely less on the shelf), it’s well worth losing a few bottles in your cellar, alongside some Boutari Naoussas.

—Tara Thomas, Wine & Spirits

Top-scoring wines:

93/100 Naoussa Grand Reserve 2007
91/100 Naoussa 2008
90/100 Santorini 2011


This is textbook Naoussa: tart, tight and earthy with sweet-tart pomegranate and tomato paste notes. Iron-hard tannins and an extreme, lively acidity give it many more years to go. If you open it now, decant early and serve with something rich, like a porcini risotto, no hold barred on the Parmigiano.

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