PDO Naoussa: Greece’s finest red wines

Certain regions of Greece are known for producing the finest red wines. One of them is PDO Naoussa, where production has been refined with expertise, care and detail.

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PDO Naoussa Zone 

Established in 1972, PDO Naoussa zone is now home to 18 wineries. Most of them are locally owned. Four are located outside the region, producing PDO Naoussa wines on a joint-venture basis. Areas included in the zone are Naoussa, Anthemia and Dovra.

Located in northern Greece in Macedonia, approximately an hour from Thessaloniki, Naoussa was one of the first regions to receive the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status in 1971. Set on a broad plain which follows a gradual rise towards the peaks of Mount Vermio, the vineyards of Naoussa are nestled at altitudes ranging from 150 meters to 350 meters above sea level. With the help of the Olympian gods, the region enjoys a Mediterranean climate and strong continental influences with captivating views of the Thermaic Gulf and Halkidiki peninsula.

The key to successful wine production all comes down to the soil, the mastering of the terroir, which has encouraged wine producers to allocate the unique environmental context by refining the cultivation process.

Xinomavro Grape Variety 

The Xinomavro grape variety has taken center stage in the region, placing Naoussa on the international wine market. Dividing the word into two, xino means sour and mavro means black. It is a charismatic, well-structured, full-bodied and well-lived red wine which is characterized by its acidity and tannins, allowing it to age gracefully.

Xinomavro is also described by wine connoisseurs as elegant, earthy, rose-scented, sometimes even herbal and overly expressive. The change of its character comes with location. Over the years, climate change has affected cultivation with the focus shifting to growing grapes more for quality rather than quantity.

This versatile grape produces a great variety of styles, ranging from fruity roses to early drinking wines and the long-lived complex productions. Its distinctive savory character is defined by the aromas of spices, ripe tomatoes, black olives, violets, wild strawberries, overlaid by notes of dark chocolate and leather.

Naousan Winemakers: A Closer Look 

The Xinomavro wines of Naoussa are for those who know how to appreciate the complexity and age value. If you are a wine lover, you will appreciate the plethora of traditional wineries that produce some of Greece’s finest red wines. Here is just to name a few.

At the Kir Yanni vineyard in Yiannakohori located at the highest point of Naoussa you may discover the Xinomavro wine with powerful character, composed of red fruit and vegetal aromas of tomato and olive. One of the Greece’s largest vineyards was founded in 1997 by Yannis Boutaris, one of the leading wine makers of Greece. Didn’t get the chance to try this wine while in Greece? Good news — there are two Kir-Yanni wine bars located at the Athens International Airport.

The VAENI Naoussa Co-op is the largest wine producer in the region accounting for 50 percent of wine production in the area. Its PDO Naoussa, wines which are known as the classic reds from Greece, include: Naoussa, Naoussa Reserve and Naoussa Grande Reserve. The traditional Naoussa range wines were established with the Vin de Qualité Produit Dans Une Région Déterminée (VQPRD).

Renowned for their Ghi kai Uranos (Earth and Sky) wine which was a vintage hit of 2004, the Thymiopoulos family have owned vineyards in Naoussa for several generations. The unique characteristics of their wines are defined by the lower levels of acidity and tannin, which make the wines drinkable today and ideal for being cellared for at least 10 to15 years.

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The Karydas Estate operated by father and son, is the new generation of wine makers and one of the most reputed vineyards in Naoussa. They exclusively produce just over 1,000 bottles of 100 percent Xinomavro wine, capturing the true essence of the variety and terroir.

Photo credit: Dalamara Xinomavro

The family tradition of the Dalamaras Winery goes back to mid-19th century when John G. Dalamaras created his first vineyard in Naoussa. The dominant variety is Xinomavro, which is cultivated with the least intervention during vinification, producing wines which are true to the authenticity of the terroir.

The Xinomavro Naoussa produced by Organic Vineyard Elinos D. Taralas Elinos S.A. is the third largest single vineyard in Naoussa. The vineyard is set on the highest point of Mount Vermio. Wine here takes 14 months to mature in French oak barrels and its ageing period is between 12 to15 years.

Have you tried any of the PDO Naoussa produced wines? If not, Greece’s finest red wines await.