A year that turned out to be exceptionally good. From a difficult spring, through a splendid ripening period, to an outstanding harvest.
It has become sort of a tradition at this time of each year to present the last vintage and along, send our annual collectable Kir-Yianni T-shirt. Many people have asked me before, why I write our annual Vintage Report in the Spring, instead of right after the harvest, as most wineries usually do. To be honest, I’m not very good at writing; postponing it is a way of avoiding it. But then, this time comes each year when we can actually see and taste our wines! The 2019 whites are already in the market, the ageing whites start to leave their barrels following 5 to 6 months of maturing in wood and find their way into the winery, whereas the reds, after a long period in our cellars, have soothed down and begun to showcase the first signs of their quality!
And then, with all their gifts in mind and senses, I need to share the story of their wine year with you and naturally, grab the opportunity, to put some ideas and concerns down on a piece of paper, about the wine industry in Greece, and around the globe.
A few thoughts to consider…
Last year, Climate Change which is here to stay, along with the Greek Outdated legal framework for the wine business were on the top of my list. In 2017, New Plantings. was the main subject I put on the table. In 2019, Liberalization & Restriction of the Plantings returned as a burning issue concerning not only Ktima Kir-Yianni, but the whole Greek Wine Industry. The reason is that the three-year period, after which the law allows viticulturists to make use of their rights, was completed. Sadly, the respond was only 50%. We lost 300 hectares of long-awaited new vineyards.
In addition, another barrier occurred, as the National Wine Support Programmes, defined by the wine Common Market Organization (CMO), which have been running for the last six years, paused. These specific European Programmes, run under the auspices of both state and private initiatives and aim to promote the image, identity and added value of the Greek wine. In recent years, there has been great participation in these programmes from both small and large wineries, contributing to the progress of Greek winemaking with very impressing results. Sales to third countries (USA, Canada, Australia, Japan), increased significantly and so, did the average selling price, achieving one of our primary goals.
Unfortunately, in the past couple of years, these programmes are not being implemented. As a result, exports to the markets of interest have already been showing signs of fatigue. Moreover, other countries, such as Portugal and Austria, run equivalent programmes of multi-million-euro budgets. Keeping up with the competition is a long-term strategy, thus, promotional and marketing activities are of great essence; they lay the foundation for more consistent and cohesive communication strategies conducted by the private sector and establish the Greek wine positioning in the global market.
We are optimistic that the Ministry of Rural Development will soon take action and launch new programmes, so that our industry can absorb as many European funds as possible and the Greek wine may keep rising in international markets.
A vintage to re-visit!
Following a cold and snowy winter, the 2019 Spring was rainy. Its weather delayed ripening by fifteen days. Moderate rainfall continued until the beginning of summer, causing a little stress to our people at the vineyard, who deserve a lot of praise, since they worked hard to prevent any possibility of damage by downy mildew and powdery mildew.
August and September were excellent for the ripening of the grapes, with average heat and great difference between day and night-time temperatures. They reminded us of older times, when a cardigan under the plane tree was always necessary in the evening even in the middle of the summer!
Considering the haste of other vintages, this year’s harvesting was stress-free from the beginning and it continued at the same gentle pace until mid-October, while the winery business kept up well and according to plan.
Tasting the wines confirmed our predictions. One could write a book about 2019. I ‘ll restrict myself to a few words: brilliant colors, amazing aromas, close to perfect phenolic ripeness and most importantly, excellent flavor!
Today, on the verge of spring of 2020, I smile when I think that 2019 has been the best year for the last two decades for both Naoussa and Amyndeon PDOs. A glass of good wine gives you the power and the courage to face up the challenges and deeds of times. Try the whites and you will understand what this year has been all about. And hold out a little bit longer for the reds; they will enchant you!