From €9.95, $11.85, £10.95, CA$18.30, 411 Ukrainian hryvnia (a first for us), 1,960 Japanese yen, AU$30.40
Most unusually, this gorgeous Greek red has won consistently enthusiastic tasting notes for every single vintage, from 2011 to 2017, a run of 16.5s out of 20 with 17 for the 2016. And, as you can see above, it’s a great price, in that sweet spot between dirt cheap and priced-to-position-the-brand.
I was reminded of what good value this wine is as I tasted my way round a recent showing by UK importer Eclectic Wines and the associated retailer Theatre of Wine. See Greece and beyond – tasting notes.
The Thymiopoulos family have been growing Xinomavro, the trademark grape of the highly regarded Náoussa zone in the far north of Greece (see Julia's Northern Greece part 2 – Gouménissa and Náoussa for some background to the region) for generations. Currently in charge of the estate in the southern tip of the zone on the slopes of Mount Vermio, is 40-year-old Apostolos, who, after oenological training in Athens, established the unglamorous winery in 2003.
They make a particularly long-lived rosé and more ambitious oaked reds of which the most expensive is called Earth and Sky in English. The full-throated rosé is definitely worth seeking out but the unoaked young-vine red is the bargain. (Apostolos has since branched out into Rapsani further south and even makes white wine on Santorini.)
What I like about this wine is its beguiling (but not simple) raspberry fruit on the nose and front palate and then the way it finishes with a slightly astringent note of cinders. It’s not unlike Nebbiolo in build. Jeunes Vignes clearly has quite a bit of ageing potential although it’s a young(er)-vine cuvée, and if you lived in Germany you could test this theory because, according to Wine-Searcher.com, ZachVin of Munich are still stocking the 2009 – at €9.95! Most other German stockists are listing the 2015.
The host of American retailers of this wine seem mainly to have moved on to the lovely 2016, which is also available in Japan. The wine is also available in Belgium, France, Canada and the Ukraine. One Australian retailer is listed, for the 2017, which, when I tasted it, I thought would still be drinking well three years from now. This, by the way, is one of those reds you could drink with or without food, and I’d serve it relatively cool but not chilled.
The blend is based on vines between 10 and 18 years old (so not that young really) from two nearby villages at, respectively, 180 and 470 m (590–1,540 ft) elevation. Like all Thymiopoulos wines, the vines are grown biodynamically and have organic certification.
As you can see, the packaging is thoroughly modern and not remotely cheapskate.
The 2017 is the current vintage in the UK and is stocked by Booths, Borders Wines, Corney & Barrow, Keeling Andrew (the Noble Rot team), Duncan Murray Wines, Quality Wines, Roberson, Vagabond, Vin Cognito, Vinoteca and The Wine Society, who have stocked this from the very first vintage, as have Theatre of Wine. Best price, as usual, is at The Wine Society.