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 one of the things that we try to achieve during the last years. After a rainy month of May, the long period that followed was dry but with no extreme temperatures. As a result, the grapes ripened well, while the absence of heat waves during summer resulted in grapes with very good levels of acidity, which, in their turn, gave wines with long aging potential. It seems that 2011, just like 1994 and 2001, will be one of these years that only come once in a decade!
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.