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DWWA 2014: Greece & Cyprus insights

Hear from our Greece & Cyprus Regional Chair Nico Manessis on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

The Greek econo mic crisis has been a boon for wine. Minds have focused on exports, which continue to grow, along with value. In this year’s DWWA, Greek wines had their highest strike rate ever, garnering 12 Gold medals and six Trophies. Santorini’s Assyrtiko has finally seen a breakthrough, where professionals and international opinion leaders are finally appreciating these one-of-a-kind, bone-dry wines. Elsewhere, dry and sweet whites are delivering an impressive track record in consistency, hitting new heights in quality and sophistication. The commitment by Cyprus to join the 21st century in terms of wine predates the current economic climate. Cypriot wine is clearly undergoing a period of transition and a wider shift in mentality is now needed to focus on re-energising these ancient vineyards. The Gold and seven Silvers illustrate the unlocked potential of this historic island-vineyard. New approaches have been introduced, and it shows. But there must be more to come.

What should we buy from here?

Whites from Crete excelled: the Vidianá and Vilana grapes are worth seeking out for their unique qualities and sense of place. Savatiano, from Attica in central Greece, has also joined the party, showing that it can compete with the finest mineraledged whites. The red Xinomavro, with its unmatched floral profile and hard-edged tannins, has, in the softer 2011 vintage, delivered a classier, more accessible expression. Marks & Spencer’s own-label scored a Silver – try it! From Cyprus, seek out the character and freshness of Xynisteri-based whites.

What should we leave on the shelf?

A few isolated spots have not kept up with all the changes over the past 20 years. Yet, these are unlikely to find their way on to the export market. Green, unripe flavours in both reds from Crete and Cyprus Bordeaux blends were poor showings.

What should we keep an eye on?

Greece’s white Kidonitsa and the red Limniona are exciting grapes with a promising future. On Cyprus, Maratheftiko – both in flavourful rosés and fragrant reds – is making a strong argument for rediscovering the vinous heritage of this island.

Written by Decanter

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