How to spend a nice evening, try around 200 Cypriot wines, including the flagship Commandaria, spending only 5 euro? Simply, just visit Nicosia Wine Weekend! This event brings to one place whole wine industry form all over the island. Producers proudly present their offer and willingly fill the glasses of wine lovers attending the festival. Everyone gets specialy prepared for this occasion tasting glass. Holding it in their hands wine enthusiasts traverse the room trying different types of wines. Producers, oenologists and other people taking part in wine production process are present on wineries’ stands to explain the details connected with their best products. It’s worth to spend a while and get to know some interresting facts on Cypriot wines.
Festival – lots of people, Dad is tasting next kinds of wine – great, but what about Ola? What is she doing at that time? And breastfeeding and driving Mom? Ola of course is doing what she currently likes best – runing around. At some stage children, when they already learn how move on their own, stop walking and start runing. Since that time they see only one possibility of moving and keep on runing everywhere. That of course affects parents trying to keep up. Organizers of Wine Weekend have thought about guests like Mom. If you came by car or don’t want to drink for some other reason or have already tried so many wines and still have a few to go, you can use specially prepared spittoons. Thanks to them you can smell the wine, taste it and at the end get rid of what you don’t want to swallow. It reminds licking the ice cream through the glass but might be useful at some situations.
At the festival there are present wines made of well known international grape varieties as well as those produced of indigenous Cypriot grapes. We have already mentioned two most important indigenous varieties. Xinisteri and Mavro the base of the most popular alcoholic beverages on the island. The third one, Maratheftiko, is less frequent but its popularity is continously growing. It turns out that in addition to the three above there is much more indigenous grapes varieties but in fact only Xinisteri and Mavro deserve more attention – everyone who will be trying local alcohols should get faimiliar with those names.
Xinisteri are the white grapes, very effectively grown on highier altitudes where lower temperatures allow fruits to achieve better quality. Today Cypriot manufacturers are able to produce of those grapes wines of highier alcohol content than before, with richer and more complex aroma and fuller and deeper taste. An interesting fact is that in order to bring out new flavors and aromas they let Xinisteri partially ferment in oak barrels or blend it with international varieties such as Savignon Blanc. Xinisteri takes significant part in production of most important Cypriot wine – Commandaria.
Mavro is the most popular type of grapes produced in Cyprus. Represents approximately 40% of all crops and today it is being used more as a table grape than wine ingredient. Main advantege of this variety is that it gives a lot of fruits but most of wines made of it reach medium color, poor aroma and light taste. To create more fine wines, of deeper colour and more floral and fruity aroma, Mavro need to be grown on highier altitudes, over 1000 meters. Together with Xinisteri it is used for Commandaria production. Out of wines made only of Mavro grapes, rose ones are praised.
Commandaria we already mentioned – it’s a flagship wine of Cyprus and being there you have to definitely try it. It’s a dessert wine, so sweet and heavy, what means that Cypriots will serve it after main meal. We will find in it a blend of those typical Cyrpiot grape varieties: – Xinisteri i Mavro. Since this is probably the most precious treasure of the island, to produce it several conditions have to be met. First of all it has to be produced in the area between Mediterranean Sea and Troodos Mountains. Cultivation, drying in the sun and the fermentation of grapes used in production must take place in one of the 14 villages that make up the appellation Commadaria. Only then the drink can use the name of probably the oldest still produced wine in the world. It was first mentioned in 12th century. While being on holidays in Cyprus we advise to get yourself at least one glass of this thick golden brown drink with coffee, chocolate and fruit aroma.
As Cypriot producers say the quality of local wines is mainly influenced by the environment where the grapes ripen – climate, fertile soil, topography. It is thanks to the variety of soils and the possibility of growing vines on different altitudes, that wines from the island reach distinct taste and aroma. Especially the altitude seems to affect the quality because it allows to escape more sensitive to high temperatures plants little highier where the climate is lighter. There during the crucial period of ripening temperature is milder and rain more frequent. Such conditions allow to grow grapes of richer flavor giving the wine deeper taste.
The best idea it is to find out about all the factors influencing the quality and taste of wine at the source. Most of 50 wineries on the island welcome all visitors and invite them to see the crops, production process and of course to try their products. It’s the best to choose some winery, make a phone call and schedule a tour for yourself. If you are wine enthusiast it is even necessary to visit one of the wineries.
Weekend with Cypriot wines is not our first encounter with the drink of the gods. Our observations and knowledge we gained in different wine regions of the world have encouraged us to take part in the project of Aleksandra Vineyard. You can soon expect our first report from planting thes vines.