Harvest Report 2016

2016 Vintage: a year with uneven conditions, which led to outstanding results

2016 was a year with uneven conditions, which led to uneven results. The secret again was our meticulous work on the vine and a very careful selection process, thanks to which, we were able to get grapes of the best possible quality, turning a difficult situation into advantage and a vintage with fickle conditions into outstanding.

The pluses (+)

A moderately hot summer, with dry conditions, mainly during the first two months, created the ideal conditions for the early ripening of the grapes.

The mild temperatures recorded in August and the wide diurnal temperature range helped all varieties to retain high acidity and high aromatic potential. Although intense rainfall in the beginning of September slowed down the ripening rate of Xinomavro, the immediate improvement of the weather allowed the completion of the ripening process, bringing the harvest date forward by 5 to 10 days.

The minuses (-)

The hot and dry first months of 2016 caused the uneven development of the first shoots. May followed with higher rainfall levels than usual, impeding the normal course of flowering. These conditions led to the production of grapes with different ripeness level on the same vine. In Amyndeon, weather conditions were similar, with the exception of higher precipitation levels in August and September, which made the ripening of late varieties, such as Xinomavro, difficult.

Our interventions

Proper plant protection measures helped to deal successfully with the pressure by downy mildew, which occurred in May due to increased humidity.

However, our most important intervention and the highlight of the 2016 harvest was our decision to harvest, in each vineyard block, the grapes with different ripeness level separately. As a result, we managed to turn a disadvantage, such as uneven ripening, into advantage. For that purpose, we have trained our harvesters to pick only the desired grapes with every passage. The established practice of selecting grapes berry by berry on the sorting table complemented the selection on the vine.

The results

Thanks to selective harvest in successive pickings, especially in the case of Xinomavro that ripened in mid-September, we managed to separate the grapes in different qualities, from average to outstanding.

The wines of the early ripening varieties, both in Naoussa and Amyndeon show intense aromas, expressing the typical character of each variety, and a fairly high alcohol level balanced by the refreshing acidity. Naoussa Xinomavro is intensly fruity, with good structure and volume, pointing to year better than 2015, probably outstanding in some vineyards. In Amyndeon, Xinomavro wines show pleasant red fruit aromas, vivid acidity and a slightly lower alcohol level.

Naoussa Rating

  • Xinomavro 9
  • Merlot 8
  • Syrah 9
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 9

Amyndeon Rating

  • Xinomavro 7,5
  • Syrah 8
  • Roditis 8
  • Malagousia 8
  • Chardonnay 10
  • Sauvignon Blanc 10
  • Gewürtztraminer 10

Harvest Report 2015

A very good year, almost a great one

Mild weather conditions and low levels of humidity until the end of summer created high expectations about the quality of this year’s vintage.

However, the unusual weather of September, with high temperatures in the beginning and a lot of rain during the second half, disturbed the smooth development of the grapes. The early ripening red and white varieties that were not affected by this change reached very high levels of quality. As for Xinomavro, which was stressed by the difficult conditions during its harvest, even though 2015 is not the great year that we all have been expecting, the first samples show that it is going to offer beautiful wines with intense fruity aromas and a soft mouthfeel.

The good moments

For most of the year, 2015 featured ideal weather conditions. Increased water reserves in the beginning and normal temperatures until April provided the best start to the new growing season. The dry weather conditions of May reduced the risk of downy mildew and other fungal diseases, protecting the health of the grapes both in Naoussa and Amyndeon. Temperatures during the summer months were lower than usual, however at the end of this period the grapes showed a beautiful, even color, impeccable health and well-ripened seeds. Everything pointed to a great vintage.

The difficult moments

A few days before the end, September came to reverse the normal course of this year’s harvest. This month started with unusually high temperatures, which caused severe stress to the vines, putting their strength to the test. These conditions led to the delay of the ripening process for most of the varieties. In the second half of September, though, days with high levels of precipitation and days of sunshine succeeded one another, creating problems to Xinomavro, especially in Naoussa, where a light hail storm damaged the leaves of the vines.

Our interventions

Before the harvest of Xinomavro we deleafed the vines in order to make the picking of the grapes easier and be able to perform an even stricter selection of the grapes. In general, we harvested only the ripest bunches, passing up to 4 times in some vineyard blocks in order to pick the grapes at their optimal ripeness level. Moreover, we decided to take a risk by leaving the grapes longer on the vines, a move that finally gave us riper color and tannins. One more selection stage took place at the winery, where we added more people on the double sorting table, picking berry by berry the grapes that would be used for our wines.

The quality

In the Naoussa vineyards, the first variety to be harvested was Merlot, in the first ten days of September, followed by Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. These grapes were excellent in quality. The wines are deep colored, with ripe tannins and typical aromas. The harvest of Xinomavro started on the 24th of the month and was completed in the first week of October. Because of the rains that fell at the end of the harvest period, the wines are lower in alcohol, but they show a beautiful aromatic character and a relatively softer mouthfeel.

In the Amyndeon vineyards, the wines of the white varieties show intense aromas, balanced acidity and a round structure. Regarding Roditis, this vintage was one of the best of the last decade, while the production is reduced by 20%, a fact that led to the good ripening of the grapes. Especially the clone of Roditis called ‘the fox’, the noblest of this family, developed an even red color, a sign of high quality. Syrah and Merlot show deep color, crisp acidity and a soft body. Like in Naoussa, Xinomavro developed less sugars, giving wines with a lower alcohol level, but with a pleasant aromatic character and a vivid acidity.

Naoussa Rating

  • Xinomavro 8
  • Merlot 9
  • Syrah 10
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 10

Amyndeon Rating

  • Xinomavro 7,5
  • Syrah 9
  • Roditis 9
  • Malagousia 10
  • Chardonnay 10
  • Sauvignon Blanc 10
  • Gewürtztraminer 10

Temperature Data 2015

  • Average Temperature: 15.1 oC
  • Average Temperature during growing season: 20.4 oC
  • Average Temperature during veraison & ripening: 21.9 oC

Precipitation Data 2015

  • Average annual precipitation: 890 mm
  • Average precipitation during growing season: 77 mm
  • Average precipitation during veraison & ripening: 107 mm

Harvest Report 2014

The most difficult vintage that we have ever seen!

The 2014 vintage put our abilities, as well as the strength of our vines to the test, having as main features an unprecedented hail storm that occurred on July 22 in Naoussa and heavy rains in early September.

The fact that we were able to make wines with typicity, a beautiful aromatic character, refreshing acidity and soft body, can only fill us with satisfaction.

In the beginning, a very rainy month of July, in combination with the high temperatures recorded during the same period led to an outbreak of powdery mildew, a very dangerous fungal disease that affects all the overground parts of the plant leading to a loss in yield and quality. All this time we monitored our vineyard closely and took all the necessary measures with the greatest possible care. However, our efforts were dampened by the continuing rain and the increasing humidity. Powdery mildew was still a major threat for our vineyard.

And as if these difficulties were not enough, on July 22, an unprecedented, severe hail storm hit the area of Naoussa, finishing off the damage that had already been caused by the rain to most of the parts of the Kir-Yianni Estate. As a result, by the end of July, the overall damage was estimated to be up to 90%!

Then, August came to moderate the effects of the previous period.

The absence of rains and the hot weather healed the wounds of the berries that had been hit by the hail and at the same time protected the grapes from the threat of black rot. Meanwhile, thanks to our targeted interventions, we managed to partially reverse the situation. The result was that the damage caused during the previous period was more limited than what we had expected. The berries that were saved were better in quality than predicted, while the loss mainly involved the quantity and not so much the quality of the grapes.

Harvest in Naoussa started later than usual, with the aim to allow the grapes to reach higher levels of phenolic ripeness, while at the same time we performed a strict selection of only the best bunches. By keeping quantity in low levels, at least 70% lower than the average of the last years, we managed to maintain a high level of quality. At the end, Xinomavro reached its usual quality standards, while Merlot and Syrah, despite the difficulties that they had to face, gave us grapes of very high quality, that will allow us to make some very soft, elegant and particularly aromatic blends.

In Amyndeon, we have dealt with similar difficult conditions, however the lower pressure from diseases and the careful plant protection measures that we had taken helped us to overcome them. Here as well, harvest started later than usual.

Finally, thanks to the low temperatures recorded during the veraison and ripening periods, the white varieties gave wines showing intense aromas, elegance, relatively lower alcohol levels and a crisp acidity. Moreover, some of the vineyards, such as Droumo, with the Sauvignon Blanc, yielded impressive results.

In any case, 2014 was an unprecedented year in many respects. Kir-Yianni Estate’s agronomist, Haroula Spinthiropoulou, with her 25 vintages’ long experience, says that this is the most difficult year that she has ever seen until now. And she has seen a lot! However, this vintage comes after a number of some very good to excellent ones that we had during the last decade. We wouldn’t want to seem ungrateful….

Temperature Data 2014

  • Average Temperature: 15.4 oC
  • Average Temperature during growing season: 19.9 oC
  • Average Temperature during veraison & ripening: 21.1 oC

Precipitation Data 2014

  • Average annual precipitation: 1213 mm
  • Average precipitation during growing season: 88 mm
  • Average precipitation during veraison & ripening: 94 mm

Harvest Report 2013

Every cloud has a silver lining…

2013 harvest started earlier than any other year before. This made it difficult for the early varieties to ripen, but also helped the late ripening Xinomavro give excellent results both in Naoussa and Amyndeon.

A year with generally good weather conditions, but also some very difficult moments, at the end 2013 rewarded us by offering grapes with excellent colour  good tannins, intense colour and an elegant character.

The positive aspects of the year

The year started off with increased water reserves and good weather conditions until late May. After the first days of June which were marked by unexpectedly bad weather, with rain and hail storms in both Naoussa and Amyndeon, summer continued with dry conditions and good temperatures. August was hotter than the average but without extreme temperatures, which helped the grapes to ripen quickly and led to a harvest that in Naoussa started earlier than ever before, on the 14th of August. The early harvest conditions have benefited Xinomavro, because the grapes reached the desired sugar levels while the tannins had the time to ripen better under optimal conditions thanks to the good weather of September. In Amyndeon, where harvest started normally, the same conditions endowed the grapes with very good acidity and intense aromatic character, while they allowed the late varieties, Xinomavro and Roditis, to ripen well.

The negative aspects of the year

The hail that fell in early June for two consecutive days in Naoussa caused a lot of damage both to the recently formed grapes and the vine leaves. However, this damage did not affect production as much as we expected, and, with the exception of Xinomavro in Naoussa, yields where slightly higher than last year. Even more paradoxically, the hail storm had also one positive effect, since in most of the Xinomavro vineyards the grapes formed less seeds than usual, a feature that is expected to have a positive influence on the harsh tannins of the variety. Finally, as it usually happens when the vintage starts so early, the early ripening varieties like the Merlot, the rate of sugar accumulation did not give the seeds the time they needed in order to ripen well, showing as a result rather green tannins.

Our interventions

In order to help our grapes get over the damage caused by the hail, we started irrigating earlier than in previous years, while we trimmed our vines at a higher level, leaving more leaves on the plant. Moreover, this year for the first time we didn’t remove the side shoots in order not to expose the grapes to the sun. Regarding the early ripening varieties, we used shorter maceration times, with the aim to leave as few of the unripe tannins as possible to pass to the wine. Naturally, as in every year, thanks to our very strict selection practices on the vine and in the winery, we have used only the ripest and healthiest grapes.

Naoussa Rating

  • Xinomavro 9
  • Merlot 8
  • Syrah 9

Amyndeon Rating

  • Sauvignon Blanc 9
  • Traminer 9
  • Chardonnay 9
  • Roditis 9
  • Xinomavro 8+

Temperature Data 2013

  • Average Temperature: 16 oC
  • Average Temperature during growing season: 21.8 oC
  • Average Temperature during veraison & ripening: 23.0 oC

Precipitation Data 2013

  • Average annual precipitation: 742 mm
  • Average precipitation during growing season: 41 mm
  • Average precipitation during veraison & ripening: 18 mm

Harvest Report 2012

Naoussa

2012 started with temperatures relatively lower than the usual, with the exception of March, which becomes increasingly hotter during the last years, while normal levels of precipitation occurred. Due to the high temperatures of March, most varieties started their growth cycle rather earlier (end of March).

In April and May normal temperatures occurred, but rainfall levels were higher causing intense growth rate of the plants and delayed flowering by a few days (end of May).

The relative humidity of the air was high and therefore there was an increased risk for the development of downy mildew. However, the vines were not seriously affected, thanks to the successfully applied plant protection measures and the high temperatures that followed during the summer months.

The following months were particularly hot, with temperatures of above 40 οC frequently occurring throughout the whole summer. Berries, right after fruit set, developed under constantly high temperatures, to which they were able to adapt thanks to the lack of variations. Repeated irrigation, which was necessary because of the hot and dry conditions in summer (graph 3), led to an intense photosynthetic process for several hours during the day, resulting in the early maturation of the grapes of most of the varieties.

Merlot and Syrah were harvested in the last third of August, having achieved high Baumé levels, good acidity and an excellent phenolic potential.

During the first third of September weather was very hot, but towards the middle of the month it changed, rain fell for 5 consecutive days and the temperature dropped to relatively low levels. These conditions delayed the ripening of Xinomavro, which until that time showed signs of early ripening. Waiting for the excess water to drain and for the plants to achieve the ripeness levels that they had reached before the rain, we started to harvest in the end of September until early October when we picked the last vineyard blocks of the Kir-Yianni Estate, having the weather on our side thanks to the favourable Indian summer conditions.

According to our usual practice, we carried out a meticulous selection of grapes on the sorting table in order to use only the best berries of the best bunches from each vineyard block.

Although the color is not at the same level compared to 2011, the aromatic character and flavours of the wines are of equally good quality, while they have softer tannins, and therefore we believe that we have a very good to outstanding year.

Amyndeon

The weather conditions in Amyndeon were similar to those in Naoussa.

There were also increased water resources and temperatures higher than usual when the plants started their growth cycle. The rainfall that occurred through to the end of May did not cause any powdery mildew damage, but only some coulure problems to vigorous Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc clones. During the summer months high temperatures were recorded, but without heat waves or temperature variations that cause stress.

Unfortunately, the hail that fell in mid-June reduced the production by 20-50% depending on the area and the variety.

Veraison occurred on normal dates for the early ripening white varieties, and a few days earlier for the early ripening red and the late ripening varieties.

The temperatures, especially during the veraison-ripening stage, were exceptionally favorable for the good ripening of most of the varieties.

The rain that fell also in Amyndeon in mid-September did not influence significantly the time of the harvest and its quality characteristics, since it was significantly less than usual and it didn’t affect the maturation process of the grapes, on the contrary, it was rather favorable.

The early ripening varieties (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Traminer) were harvested as usual in early September, and gave wines high in alcohol, intensely aromatic, with good acidity, while the early red varieties (Merlot, Syrah) were harvested in mid-September giving wines high in alcohol, with good levels of color and aromatic intensity.

Roditis and Xinomavro were harvested earlier than in the past: Roditis in the last third of September, giving wines high in alcohol, high in aromatic intensity and with good acidity, while Xinomavro was harvested in the first third of October.

We believe that 2012 was one of these rare years when Xinomavro reached a satisfactory level of ripeness in Amyndeon, giving wines high in alcohol, deep in color and intensely aromatic.

Temperature Data 2012

  • Average Temperature: 16 oC
  • Average Temperature during growing season: 22.3 oC
  • Average Temperature during veraison & ripening: 24.4 oC

Precipitation Data 2012

  • Average annual precipitation – 856 mm
  • Average precipitation during growing season: 62 mm
  • Average precipitation during veraison & ripening: 44 mm

Harvest Report 2011

A great year for Xinomavro!

After three consecutive years of rather average quality, it looks like in 2011 Xinomavro comes back to its very high standards.

This year the weather helped the grapes to reach good levels of phenolic maturity with relatively low potential alcohol, which is something that we try to achieve during the last years. It seems that 2011, just like 1994 and 2001, will be one of these years that only come once in a decade!

After a rainy month of May, the long period that followed was dry but with no extreme temperatures. As a result, the grapes could reach good maturity levels with a potential alcohol that did not exceed 14%, and good acidity. In the first tanks, the color is black and the first measurements in the lab give results that we have never seen before. Finally, the absence of heat waves during the summer resulted in grapes with very good levels of acidity, which, in their turn, will give wines with long aging potential.

Especially during the last 15 days, after the heavy rain of the 20th of September, temperatures in Naoussa range between 23 and 25 oC during the day falling to a low of 14-16 oC in the night, creating perfect conditions for the maturation process.

Naoussa

The year started off, just like the previous one, with increased water reserves and slightly lower temperatures than the average, leading to a late budburst by one week compared to last year.

For most of the varieties, shoot growth started in the second third of April. Throughout spring temperatures were lower than the average, while relative humidity and precipitation were high. Because of the high humidity levels there was increased downy mildew pressure up until the start of the flowering period, forcing us to adopt increased plant protection measures. Due to these conditions flowering was delayed, as it was expected, by one week. Therefore, all of our varieties entered the flowering stage in the first third of June.

June was a period of cool temperatures, whereas July and August were particularly hot and dry, but with no extreme temperatures. As a result, the plants did not suffer any thermal shock during the summer months and were able to reach the veraison stage at the normal time for each variety: early August for Syrah, first third of August for Merlot and mid-August for Xinomavro. Timely application of irrigation and proper summer pruning prevented sunscald and preserved the aromatic potential and the acidity of each variety.

Early ripening Merlot was ready by the end of August, while the main volume was harvested as usual in early September. Immediately after Merlot followed Syrah, which was harvested earlier, in the second third of September, while its usual harvest time is after the 20th of this month, almost one week earlier than Xinomavro, which was picked this year in the first ten days of October.

September was hot, with an average temperature of around 28-30ο C during the day and 16-18ο C during the night, leading to a slow and prolonged ripening of the late harvested Xinomavro.

 

The excessive rainfall of the second half of September – 150 mm of rain, compared to an annual average of 600mm – did not have a significant effect on the health of the grapes, but it slowed down the concentration of sugars.

The Xinomavro grapes showed excellent phenolic ripeness due to the long ripening period and the favorable temperatures.

Grapes were picked as usual by selective harvesting. We grouped the different parts of the vineyard according to their wine-making potential and harvested the edges separately from the hearts of the vineyard plots (a practice that we have been following for many years in Kir-Yianni Estate). The next step was the selection of the grapes using a sorting table, in order to make sure that only ripe and healthy fruit will go into the tank.

The first samples taken from the wines that have finished fermenting are very encouraging for all three varieties. High alcoholic content for the early-ripening varieties, moderately high for Xinomavro, very good acidity, impressive color (maybe the best colors of the last ten years), very good phenolic index were common characteristics in all the wines.

Amyndeon

Weather conditions were excellent also in the area of Amyndeon. Here too, the vines started off their growing cycle with increased water reserves and under relatively low temperatures. Rainfall occurred throughout the whole period until the end of May (although in smaller quantities compared to the previous years, see chart 6), leading to downy mildew attacks on poorly protected vineyards (due to high levels of relative humidity, chart 5), while summer was particularly hot and dry. Temperatures, especially during the veraison-ripening period, were exceptionally good helping the grapes to reach good ripeness levels.

Rainfall occurring mainly in mid-September delayed the harvest of Roditis and Xinomavro, but without causing any further problems. Due to increased water reserves and favorable temperatures during the period of spring, budburst, flowering and, consequently, veraison occurred later compared to last year.

The conditions that pointed to a late harvest changed in the beginning of the ripening period, when the favorable temperatures led to the ripening of most of the varieties at the usual time. Harvest began in early September for Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnay and Traminer in mid-September, while Merlot and Syrah were harvested in the last third of September. Regarding the indigenous varieties, Roditis was ready to harvest by the end of September, beginning of October, and Xinomavro in the first half of October.

All the varieties show very good quality, especially the early ripening white and rosé varieties, but also the late harvested Roditis, presenting high levels of acidity in combination with an intense aromatic character. The early ripening red varieties show very good phenolic maturity, while even the late ripening Xinomavro has managed to reach a good level of ripeness, for the first time after many years. By picking old vines and harvesting the hearts of the vineyard plots separately from the edges we were able to produce an outstanding wine from Xinomavro.

Temperature Data 2011

  • Average Temperature: 15.1 oC
  • Average Temperature during growing season: 21.1 oC
  • Average Temperature during veraison & ripening: 23.4 oC

Precipitation Data 2011

  • Average annual precipitation: 769 mm
  • Average precipitation during growing season: 55 mm
  • Average precipitation during veraison & ripening: 48 mm