TN: Cypriot wines

This is already the second tasting note thread on the wines of Cyprus within the last ten or so years (the first one was this Andrew Hall’s thread: TN: The Wines of Cyprus ) so I’d say with this much coverage in such a short period of time, it is starting to look like the Cypriot wines are going to be the Next Big Thing here in WB! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

So yeah, this one friend of mine is not just a wino, but he also does a bit of scuba diving as well, as a hobby. According to him, Cyprus is one of the best places for scuba diving and he usually goes there every year or two - and checks out the local how the wines and wineries are doing in the process. The last time he was there he brought a bunch of Cypriot wines with him - and like a good chum he is, threw a tasting on these wines.

To me, this was a terrific and enlightening opportunity to learn something new, as I had tasted only a small handful of Cypriot wines before this (mainly Commandarias and an odd Cypriot white here and there). What was even more interesting was that we had a very nice selection of wines made from local grape varieties, as you really don’t see these anywhere outside the island - and not always even on the island (as, for some reason, many producers seem to prefer international varieties like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier over the local cultivars, and - even worse - tend to make big, anonymous and gloopy wines out of those)!

  • 2020 Kolios Winery Xynisteri Persefoni Dry - Cyprus, Paphos (13.5.2022)
    100% Xynisteri from vineyards planted at the altitude 1000 m above sea level in the mountains of Paphos, the westernmost region in Cyprus. 13% alcohol.

    Pale, almost completely colorless whitish-green color. Very open, expressive and rather noticeably Sauvignon Blanc-like nose of passion fruit and freshly mown grass, some appley tones, a little bit of zesty citrus fruit, light primary-estery notes of pear drops and a hint of cat pee. The wine feels ripe, yet zippy, dry and light-bodied on the palate with a tiniest tingle of carbonation on the tongue. There are tropical and somewhat Sauvignon Blanc-like flavors of ripe gooseberries and passion fruit, some grapefruit soda, a little bit of juicy Golden Delicious apple, light herbaceous notes of grassy greenness and a hint of sweet tangerine. The wine starts off pretty crisp, but as the carbonation fades, the overall feel turns somewhat softer and more mellow - even if the moderately high acidity manages to keep the wine quite nicely in balance. The finish is ripe, juicy and somewhat tropical with medium-long flavors of red apple, some grapefruit soda, a little bit of passion fruit, light juicy notes of ripe gooseberries and a hint of golden currants.

    A pleasant and tasty Cypriot wine that unfortunately feels a bit banal and lacking in character, coming across more like a young, modern Sauvignon Blanc than anything I'd associate with Greek white wine. While balanced and refreshing, I really didn't find the wine particularly memorable; if I want to drink a white that tastes like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I'd rather buy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - at least they're a bit higher in acidity!
    (86 points)

  • 2019 Kamanterena Xynisteri Project X Eagle Rock - Cyprus, Paphos, Laona-Akamas (13.5.2022)
    To my understanding, this is the first vintage of this single-vineyard Xynisteri sourced from the Eagle Rock vineyard located in the Laona-Akamas appellation at the far western end of Cyprus. Vinified at the Kamanterena mountain winery operated by the SODAP co-operative. Fermentation was started in stainless steel, after which the wine was racked into five 500-liter new French-oak demi-muids to finish fermentation and age for 9 months. 12,5% alcohol.

    Pale lemon-yellow color. Somewhat restrained and a bit woody nose with savory aromas of creamy oak and sawdust, some lactic notes of yogurt, a little bit of ripe citrus fruit, light appley notes, a hint of nectarine and a touch of juicy golden currants. The wine feels firm, somewhat concentrated and quite intense on the palate with a medium body and dry flavors of woody, untoasted oak character and creamy oak, some Chenin-like waxy character, a little bit of ripe red apple, light nuances of juicy gooseberries, a hint of sappy herbal character and a sweeter touch of exotic fruits. The rather high acidity lends good sense of freshness and balance to the wine. The finish is ripe, juicy and slightly sweet-toned with a moderately long aftertaste of woody untoasted oak, some gooseberry, a little bit of creaminess, light crunchy notes of fresh apple, a sweeter hint of grapefruit juice and a nutty touch of slivered almonds.

    A relatively balanced, enjoyably structured and quite intense effort that feels just way too young and awkward at the moment, all that savory, woody - even sawdusty - oak influence feeling very unintegrated and sitting clumsily on top of the fruit. It feels like there's a very serious wine lurking underneath, but due to the somewhat heavy-handed oak influence, the wine just can't show its best, at least yet. There's a good possibility that this wine will turn out to be wonderfully complex and Burgundian with enough age, but at the moment it can only give promises of greatness. I hope the wine will live up to them.
    (88 points)

  • 2020 Ktima Gerolemo Morokanella - Cyprus, Paphos (13.5.2022)
    To my understanding, this is one of the (currently) three or four varietal Morokanella wines in existence. 12,5% alcohol.

    Pale, very youthful and almost completely colorless whitish-green color. Somewhat restrained and subtly sweetish, yet pleasantly fragrant nose with aromas of greengage and star fruit, some leesy tones, a little bit of fragrant herby greenness, a hint of fresh apple and a touch of melon. The wine feels ripe yet firm and dry on the palate with a medium body. Just like the nose, the taste is also a bit reticent, but more fine-tuned rather than understated with its delicate flavors of juicy white fruit, some greengage, a little bit of fresh pear, light crunchy notes of star fruit and a hint of yellow kiwi. The overall feel is balanced and structured, thanks to the high acidity. The moderately long finish is dry, ripe and juicy with a light yet lively aftertaste of white peach, some greengage, a little bit of fresh pear, light yellow kiwi tones and a hint of stony minerality.

    A very nice and balanced white wine that manages to be pleasantly restrained rather than underwhelming or mute. As the overall feel is a bit on the delicate side, the wine doesn't come across as a particularly memorable effort, but all the pieces are there and the overall feel is enjoyably fruity without the wine being a fruit bomb. A thoroughly enjoyable and well-made Cypriot white showcasing the fragrant fruity nature of Morokanella.
    (90 points)

  • 2020 Zambartas Promara - Cyprus, Paphos (13.5.2022)
    Promara ("early ripening") is an old Cypriot grape variety that used to be more popular but now represents only less than 1% of the planted vineyard as this thick-skinned white variety was harder to work with and yielded less juice than other white grape varieties. This 2020 is the debut vintage of Zambartas Promara, the grapes were sourced from a 10-yo vineyard planted on the southwestern slopes of the Troodos mountain range in the Paphos region. 13% alcohol.

    Quite pale lemon-yellow color. Rather sweet and expressive nose with moderately concentrated aromas of banana and papaya, some leesy notes of creaminess, a little bit of apple jam, light lactic notes of exotic fruit yogurt and a hint of sweet spice - it's hard to tell if it's oak or just the variety speaking. Contrasting the rich, sweet and somewhat exuberant nose, the wine is surprisingly light, brisk and acid-driven on the palate with a light-to-medium body and youthful, bright flavors of white currants and fresh red apple, some crunchy notes of star fruit, a little bit of leesy creaminess, light sweeter notes of ripe white peach and a hint of waxiness. The zippy, high acidity lends great intensity and sense of structure to the wine. The finish is long, bright and mouth-cleansing with flavors of fresh red apple and pear, some white peach, a little bit of crunchy star fruit, light white currant notes and a leesy hint of creaminess.

    A very nice, firm and characterful Cypriot white which shows a stark contrast between the big, sweet and quite exuberant nose and the brisk, fresh and enjoyably acid-driven taste. It's very hard to assess whether this is a wine that can actually age, or if the wine is best drunk while it is still young, but at least it is drinking mighty well right now. A terrific, characterful and wonderfully balanced white wine for people who like their whites frisky and high in acidity.
    (92 points)

  • 2020 Tsiakkas Winery Mavro Mouklos - Cyprus, Limassol, Pitsilia (13.5.2022)
    100% single-vineyard Mavro from an ungrafted 80-yo vineyard located at the altitude of 900 m a.s.l. in Pitsilia, central Cyprus. 50% of the grapes were crushed and cold-soaked prior to fermentation, 50% of the grapes were vinified using carbonic maceration. Bottled under the PGI Lemesos appellation. Total production approx. 2000 bottles. 13,5% alcohol.

    Pale, fully translucent ruby-red color with a pinkish hue - the wine looks more like a deep rosé than a red wine. The nose feels ripe, sweet and very youthful with very fruit-forward and somewhat carbonic aromas of strawberries and raspberry jam, some boysenberry tones, a little bit of cherry marmalade and a dusty hint of sun-baked sandy soil. The overall feel is a bit generic with its overtly fruity and somewhat primary character. However, on the palate the wine feels light-to-medium-bodied yet quite ripe and surprisingly serious and intense compared to the pale color and somewhat simple, fruity nose. There are fruity yet dry and savory flavors of strawberries and red licorice, some earthy tones, a little bit of fresh black cherry, light spicy notes, an extracted hint of leathery character and a sweeter, sunny touch of wizened dark berries. The wine feels pretty structured with its rather high acidity and fine-grained yet surprisingly ample and moderately grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is ripe, juicy and slightly sweet-toned with moderate tannic grip and quite intense flavors of dark forest fruits, some black cherry tones, a little bit of licorice, light strawberry tones, a hint of earth and a floral touch of roses.

    The nose didn't promise much, nothing more interesting than a youthful, generic semi-carbonic red, but on the palate the wine turned out to be much more serious and impressive than the somewhat mundane nose led to believe. The wine shows good freshness, sense of structure and depth of flavor, coming across not unlike a Mediterranean Cru Bojo or a Cypriot/Greek take on Mencía-like red. A positive surprise, I have a hunch this will not only keep but also evolve for at least a handful of years more.
    (91 points)

  • 2018 Tsangarides Winery Maratheftiko - Cyprus, Paphos (13.5.2022)
    Maratheftiko is a variety that almost disappeared due to its poor resistance to powdery mildew, uneven ripening and it not being able to cross-pollinate itself, requiring it to be interplanted with another variety. The typical use for the grape variety would be to be interplanted with the pale, light Mavro to give Mavro wines depth, color and structure. This is a single-vineyard Maratheftiko from an organically farmed vineyard planted at the altitude of 400-450 m a.s.l. in the village of Lemona, located in Paphos, the western part of Cyprus. Fermented in stainless steel, aged for 9-12 months in new French oak barrels. 13,5% alcohol.

    Luminous and quite opaque ruby color with a youthful blueish inky hue. The nose feels youthful, quite exuberant and rather sweetly-fruited with crowdpleaser aromas of sweet blueberries and wizened black cherries, some vanilla-driven baking spices, a little bit of toasty oak, light strawberry notes, reductive hints of rubber and smoke and a floral touch of violets. The wine feels firm, dry and structured on the palate with a medium body, yet the taste is somewhat dominated with a sweetish streak of vague candied fruit, followed by notes of ripe dark forest fruits, some oaky notes of vanilla and mocha, a little bit of crunchy chokeberry, light floral notes of sour cherries, a floral hint of violets and a touch of coffee. The overall feel is enjoyably firm and sinewy with the high acidity and rather grippy tannins. The finish is dry-ish, spicy and moderately tannic with a relatively sweet-toned, candied aftertaste of cherry marmalade, ripe blueberry, some boysenberry, light inky tones, a little bit of vanilla, an oaky hint of milk chocolate and a touch of cloves.

    Although the wine is firm, sinewy and tannic, the overall feel is still quite a crowdpleaser, thanks to the sweet-toned, candied overall notes and rather pronounced new oak influence that only accentuates the sweet, candied nuances with the flavors of vanilla, cloves, chocolate and coffee. The overall feel is just way too young, due to the quite overwhelming candied notes and unintegrated oak characteristics. I guess this could be a fine wine, but the very modern, heavy-handed winemaking makes the wine feel just too glossy and polished - maybe another 10-15 years of aging might make the wine lose its sweetest nuances and turn it into something less sweet, oaky and more sophisticated? At least structurally the wine shows good potential for extended cellaring. Solid value at just 10€.
    (85 points)

  • 2014 Vouni Panayia Winery Yiannoudi - Cyprus, Paphos (13.5.2022)
    100% Yiannoudi from vineyards planted at the altitude of 1000 m a.s.l. in the village of Panayia, located in Paphos, the western part of Cyprus. Aged for 12 months in new oak barrels. 13,5% alcohol.

    Somewhat evolved and moderately translucent Burgundy color with a dried-blood hue. Fragrant, somewhat evolved and subtly sweet-toned nose with quite complex aromas of ripe dark berries and plummy dark fruits, some balsamic tones, a little bit of leathery funk, light oaky notes of savory wood spice and coffee grounds, a hint of boysenberry jam, a touch of dried figs and an autumnal, almost Bordeaux-like whiff of dried leaves. Very lovely overall impression! On the palate the wine feels dry, textural and slightly rustic with a medium body and savory flavors of wizened dark fruits and sweet black cherries, some licorice tones, a little bit of balsamic richness, light funky notes of stable floor, a hint of coffee grounds and a touch of white pepper. The overall feel is quite firm and structured, yet not aggressive, thanks to the high acidity and ample, powdery tannins that start to grip slowly but steadily. The finish is dry, savory and quite grippy with a nuanced and very persistent aftertaste of juicy dark berries and dried figs, some licorice, a little bit of leathery funk, light peppery tones, oaky hints of savory wood spice and sweeter toasted wood and a touch of earth.

    A beautiful, complex and very harmonious effort - the best red Cypriot wine I've tasted thus far. The overall feel is slightly rustic, but only in the good sense. You can taste the wine isn't young anymore, but it's quite obvious that there is still enough fruit, concentration and structure here for further evolution; the wine can be kept, but it is starting to be pretty darn lovely already now. A fine effort with a lot of depth, character and structure. Highly recommended!
    (94 points)

  • 2015 Yiaskouris Shiraz Pachna - Cyprus, Limassol, Pachna (13.5.2022)
    Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. 14,5% alcohol.

    Deep, quite opaque and somewhat evolved purplish-black color. Surprisingly evolved and even somewhat oxidative nose with aromas of meat stew and soy sauce, some raisiny dark fruit, a little bit of blackberry jam, light savory notes of earth and spices, a floral hint of violets, a lifted touch of balsamic VA and a whiff of burnt animal hair. The overall feel is surprisingly old for a wine not even 7 years old. On the palate the wine feels ripe, savory and moderately evolved with a medium-to-moderately full body - the overall feel is not as big and ripe as I expected from the nose. There are flavors of beef jerky and soy sauce, some wizened dark berries and prunes, a little bit of licorice root, light nuances of old leather, a hint of earth and a touch of balsamic VA. The overall feel is quite tough and extracted with a moderately high acidity and quite rustic, aggressively grippy tannins. The finish is long, savory and quite tannic with somewhat oxidative flavors of beef jerky and wizened dark plums, some earthy tones, a little bit of licorice root and woody old oak, light raisiny tones, a hint of balsamic VA and a touch of soy sauce. The high alcohol makes the wine end on a moderately warm note.

    Meh. It feels the wine has already gone past its peak and started gliding slowly downhill - which is surprising, seeing how tough and structured the wine is. I'd say that the tannins need at least 20 years more before they start to resolve, whereas the fruit is giving up entirely as I write. Most likely this must've been quite a bruiser in its youth and apparently age did very little for the wine. I really can't say this was a particularly "Shiraz" wine, nor it is really recognizable for a Syrah either.
    (72 points)

  • 2014 Domaine Vlassides Opus Artis - Cyprus, Limassol (13.5.2022)
    The flagship wine of Vlassides made with Merlot (1/3) from the Karamanos vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon (1/3) from the Afames vineyard and Syrah (1/3) from the Katoshi vineyard. The varieties are vinified separately, first macerated for two weeks with the skins, the racked into new French oak barrels to finish the fermentation, go through the MLF and age for 18 months. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered and aged for another 2 years before release. 14,5% alcohol, 2,9 g/l residual sugar, 6 g/l acidity and pH 3,4.

    Very deep, dark and inky purplish-black color that stains the glass as you swirl it around. The nose feels very powerful and voluptuous with sweetish, yet quite complex aromas of soft dark plums and ripe bilberries, some toasty oak spice, a little bit of cocoa, light creamy notes of vanilla custard, a hint of blackberry jam, a boozy touch of alcohol and a whiff of forest floor. The overall feel is slightly evolved, even though the wine doesn't come across as particularly developed. The wine feels dense, textural and full-bodied, yet - surprisingly enough - not particularly heavy or extracted on the palate. There are savory and somewhat evolved flavors of wizened dark plums and ripe black cherries, some old leather notes, a little bit of balsamic richness, light oaky notes of toasty wood and coffee, a hint of overripe redcurrant and a sweet touch of raisiny dark fruit. The overall feel is enjoyably dense and structured, thanks to the surprisingly high acidity and still quite firm and tightly-knit yet not aggressive tannins. The finish is rich, quite noticeably grippy and moderately warm with bold flavors of wizened blackcurrants, ripe black cherries and prunes, some sweet blackberry jam tones, a little bit of toasty oak spice, light mocha tones, a hint of balsamic VA and a hint of raisiny fruit.

    A surprisingly nice and harmonious effort. Perhaps a bit too much of a polished blockbuster for my taste, but the wine is definitely going in the right direction and, in all likelihood, after another 10 years or so the might've lost all its modernist "new world" qualities and turned into a fine, savory and structured Cypriot red. It's not a bullseye in its current form, but its impressive tannic structure, bright acidity and sense of balance forgive quite a bit. All in all, a bit monolithic yet still a very serious and quite enjoyable effort, recommended.
    (90 points)

  • 2004 Loel Alasia Commandaria - Cyprus, Commandaria (13.5.2022)
    15% alcohol.

    Oxidized, dull nutty-brown color with a dim yellow rim. The nose feels sweet but also quite restrained with aromas of maple syrup, chopped nuts, some caramel, a little bit of old furniture, light volatile notes of medicinal ether and a boozy hint of alcohol. The wine feels rich, sweet and moderately oily on the palate with a full body and moderately oxidative flavors of raisins, some maple syrup, a little bit of roasted nuts, light volatile notes of maple syrup, a hint of old furniture and an oxidative touch of mushroomy funk. The mouthfeel is quite hot and somewhat sticky with the medium acidity contributing very little freshness to the wine. The lengthy and somewhat sticky finish is sweet and quite powerful with a rather oxidized and quite dull aftertaste of syrupy molasses, some nutty notes of tahini, a little bit of fresh porcini mushroom, light creamy tones, sweet dried-fruit hints of prunes and raisins and a touch of hoi sin.

    A rather generic and moderately dull sweet and/or fortified wine that has slipped over the line from oxidative to oxidized, making the wine feel rather tired and mushroomy. I thought Commandaria was oxidative enough to be virtually indestructible, but this wine turned out to be already past its peak - I wonder if the bottle had a compromised cork or if it had been kept in too high temperatures? It doesn't feel like you could actually kill a Commandaria this quickly by just leaving it in a proper wine cellar. Since the wine most likely wasn't how it was supposed be, I'm leaving it unrated for now.

Posted from CellarTracker


With more to come, as I’ll be in Cyprus for a week this fall and will spend a couple days wine tasting. Though expect my notes to be much less interesting than yours, Otto :cheers:.

Also, I sound like a broken record, but great notes, Otto. I agree with you, I love seeing these native varieties in use. Hopefully I get to try some of these wines you listed above, and get to add a few more to the discussion.

Fun report! Sitting in Cyprus right now. I haven’t tasted heavily on Cyprus wines this trip though as there now a ton of the top Santorini available here. I am here for at least another month, so will head out to visit some of my winemaker friends and taste.

One thing about Promara, Moronkanella, Yiannoudi - while both are old varieties, the vineyards are super young across the board for everyone and they are still figuring the grapes out. Marcos Zambartas’ father identified these grapes among some old vineyards and the work to propagate healthy stock and plant new vineyards has now reached a point where several wines have commercial bottlings. The learning curve has shot rapidly up especially compared to trials I tasted a decade or so ago.


Indeed, this was also what my friend said as well - the availability of Santorini wines had grown considerably since his last visit!

Yes, this we discussed as well; while many of the local varieties we tasted in this tasting, many of them were either workhorse varieties not normally used for quality wines, or varieties which might or might’ve not been popular in the past, but were now all but forgotten.

I’m happy to hear that the producers seem to be willing to make the best out of these varieties and the quality of the wines seems to be on an upward curve!

I hate to be negative because this is my second home, but I do feel like that quality has reached a plateau and will take a spell to level up. This is the natural progression. The Xynisteri (the flagship grape here) has leveled off and even my dear friends making single vineyard aren’t really making great improvements. Ditto Maratheftiko where even a wine I usually adore was, with lunch today, seeming to aim more for a modern acceptable vibe than what this feral grape can do.

That said, the Tsiakkas Mavro is a nice vanguard (and exported to the US, btw) of what some old vineyards can do for this industrial (into Commanderia which saved the vineyards) can do. There is a special vineyard from Zambartas and a new project of 100+ yr old Mavro vineyards. (Too lazy to post link to my notes here.)

There is a bit of error in your post though - these varieties like Moronkanella and Yiannoudi weren’t workhorse varieties. They were part of the vineyard diversity that got neglected when industrial production became more important. The ancestors understood the hedge, but that became less important by the '60s and the demands for consistency (like all of EU, to be honest) meant that international varieties (Palamino, eg) took precedence and the local market valued cheap versus distinct.

The God’s work that Akis Zambartas (Marcos’ father) did was finding the single vines in vineyards that survived. Moronkanella wasn’t making bulk wines. It was a single vine that survived inside a larger vineyard. (Not literally, but the point is there,)

On the flip side, my friends are finding old vineyards of Mavro that have gone feral. Not used for bulk wines. Just a vineyard that was forgotten for a generation or more. (You can’t understand Cyprus w/o understanding disruption in '74. At minumum.) These are vineyards that have never been harvested or even tended in decades. There is a history here than is just different.

btw - Loel is the lowest tier of industrial. Ugh. There are both artisan producers of Commanderia and small producers also making great Commanderia.

Opus Artis - Sophocles (Vlassides) makes this wine because he loves this style. He is a God of wine in Cyprus and has done more to improve the quality here than anyone. He helps other producers make their best wines. (I had a super old vine Maratheftiko w/ him in his garage that was a peak wine in life for me.) But he loves that style. It isn’t pandering to make a Aussie wine. He just loves it. I totes fux w/ him.

Man, I am sorry to preach. Been jamming with my mother in law about woo-woo shit and history and family and the chains of land. This just strikes a vibe where I feel wine is an expression of something deeper. Wine is so inextricable from history here.


And yeah, we can make #cyrpuswine happen!

I didn’t say they were! You notice there was “either-or” :wink: - the workhose part of my comment was mainly a reference to the surprisingly impressive Mavro!

Yes, I’m aware of this! I’ve had some very impressive Commandarias in the past! I didn’t have any previous knowledge on this Loel, though.

Great information, thanks!

All good, bro. I am just super happy that others are appreciating the wines from my adopted home. I do think you are more bullish than I am, but that is awesome. Props. It is a unique and amazing place. Next month, I will do some visits and catch up.

Yes, the Mavro is really the bulk wine component that is really being recovered. ( Search tasting notes for 'ardua' - CellarTracker)

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