A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

White Xinomavro?

Today's post is a kind of double whammy of weirdness. Honestly, I have no idea what I drank this weekend. I only know what was on the bottle, and frankly, I'm not sure if I trust it.

I went to a local wine shop last week and was scrounging around in their Greek section when I came across a bottle labeled as xinomavro. I've been on the lookout for a good xinomavro based wine for awhile because I've read some really good things about the grape and am curious to check it out myself. One problem: everything I've read has said that xinomavro is a red wine grape and the bottle I picked up was a white wine. I even asked the proprietor about the disconnect between what I'd read and what I was seeing and was met with a shrug and nothing more. Now, I do know that white wine can be made from red grapes; if the grapes are pressed lightly and allowed almost no contact with the skins, then the resulting juice will be clear and will make white wine. I've had a white pinot noir from Germany that was vinified this way which was interesting, but made me wonder why someone would do that to a perfectly good pinot noir grape. In any case, I probably should have put the bottle on the shelf and slowly backed away, but curiosity got the better of me, and here I am, confused and disappointed.

I don't think I'll go into a lot of depth here with any history or interesting facts about xinomavro because, frankly, I have my doubts that what I tasted was actually xinomavro, so I'll save that info for when I get a legitimate bottle. I have tried and tried in vain to find some information somewhere online about a xinomavro white but keep coming up empty. I can't find any reference even to the producer of this bottle online. The only information I have is what's printed on the back label, which is no help at all. It does claim that what is in the bottle is "nothing short of spectacular," which is pretty self-congratulatory, even for a bottle blurb.

So what did I get? As far as I can tell, I got mineral water with a little alcohol added. The wine's color was very pale straw. A whiff of the glass yielded nothing. A vigorous swirl and another sniff: still nothing. My hand on top of the glass, shaking the glass like I was trying to mix up a paint can: still nothing. A very clean, very dumb, very boring nose. If I tried really hard, I could maybe, almost get a whiff of something like melon, but honestly, it could have just been my brain trying desperately to locate anything at all in my glass.

On the palate, still nothing. This was a light to medium bodied wine with very little acidity and almost no flavor. I thought maybe I had over-chilled the wine at first so I let it sit on the counter and come down to room temperature. Now I had room temperature alcoholic mineral water. If I had to make a comparison to another type of wine, well, it's tough to draw a comparison because of how plain this bottling really is. Stainless steel chardonnay minus all the green apple flavors? Muscadet with none of the crisp acidity or minerality? Cold water really comes closest to describing this, I guess.

The lesson here is that research is pretty key when shopping for wine. Hell, I even knew that the word "xinomavro" meant "acid-black" in Greek from some of my reading, and I let the shrug of the salesman convince me that maybe I was thinking of something else and was in fact mistaken. What I ended up with was a disappointment, but luckily it wasn't too costly. The bottle I picked up was a 2006 Eleftherios Estates Xinomavro White for about $14. I can't recommend this wine to anybody except maybe wine drinkers who don't enjoy the taste of wine.

1 comment:

Alberto Lioy said...

I'm an Italian from Piemonte living in thessaloniki, greece
compliments for your blog in first place...
in fact, white Xinomavro exists, and it's a peculiar thing...very different from any white whine that I know...I tried it in a tasting at
it's in Amyndeo, close to lake Vegoritida (Greek Macedonia)
the wine I'm talking about is called Kappa P11...but at supermarkets in Thessaloniki I also found a simple Riesling-Xinomavro that goes for a decent price (6 to 7 euros)...in general the dominant taste is walnut (at least it's what I feel) and I like it a lot with stuff like vegetable dishes or curry...not a world class, but a fringe wine for sure...
merry christmas!