After two consecutive years of extremely hot and dry conditions, the 2009 season came to replenish the water shortage. Atmospheric humidity during the growing season was the highest observed over the last thirty years and summer temperatures did not rise sufficiently to check the outbreak of downy mildew. Nonetheless, disease did not reduce crop load, as timely disease control ensured proper vine health. On the contrary, water excess raised crop loads relative to the last two years. Xinomavro was picked mid-October. For the most part, the very slow and late ripening allowed continuous berry enlargement with subsequently lower maturity and acidity levels, yet satisfactory phenolic profile. The new blocks planted solely with the preferred Xinomavro clones demonstrated once again their superiority. Meticulous selection process proved to be even more useful during this difficult year. Sorting out grapes not bunch by bunch, but berry by berry, we managed to retain our highest quality standard constant, albeit at an extra cost. So despite the challenges of the year we expect wines with intense and fine aromas, medium color intensities, full-body, and a surprisingly charming harmony. Rating: ****
The Kir-Yianni Estate vineyards in AOC Naoussa are located at an altitude of 230-320m at the Eastern foothills of Mt. Vermio. The appellation's microclimate is marked by abundant precipitation during the winter & spring and moderate drought during the summer. The site spans over rolling hills with medium to high slopes and panoramic exposure. Its soil type is a mixed limestone ranging from clay to loam and sandy loam. Due to this diversity and complexity of the site the vineyards are established in 33 separate blocks –each one with its own particular characteristics and viticultural practices. At the heart of the Estate three soil types and varieties meet: Syrah thrives on the low-pH sandy loam of block#19, Merlot on the loamy limestone of block #23, and the indigenous Xinomavro, shows its best on the clay limestone of block #27. All three blocks share moderate slopes facing southeast, while row orientation ranges from Northeast to East. A double vertical shoot positioning trellis and a generous vine spacing of 3,500-4,000 per hectare are in place for optimal vigor & canopy management. The resulting yield is 60 hectoliters per hectare.
The winemaking objective for "Dyo Elies" is to highlight each variety and then create a unique blend by putting emphasis on their best characteristics. Merlot offers the full body, Syrah adds the spice with a velvety aftertaste and last, but not least Xinomavro gives a twist with its complex bouquet and structure. Harvest dates are different for each variety starting from the end of August for Merlot to the mid and end of September for Syrah and Xinomavro respectively. Grapes are hand-picked and manually selected on a sorting table prior to crush. For each variety, and during the first week after crush, the must is cold soaked at 11-12°C in a reductive environment. Temperatures gradually rise for the fermentation to take place at 29-30°C for Merlot which is also heated after the end of fermentation for a few days. In contrast, the temperature for Syrah is maintained at 22-24°C throughout the fermentation and as soon as it is over the malolactic fermentation is initiated in new oak. Xinomavro ferments at 22°C in open-top tanks without pump-overs to avoid the overheated tannin extraction, which used to be very common in the local traditional wines. Instead, a monitored hydraulic pigeage allows an early and refined phenolic optimum leading to the removal of grape skins with a pneumatic wine press well before the end of fermentation. Following fermentation the wines are aged separately in French and American 225-lt oak casks. About 25% of the barrels in the cellar are renewed each year.