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A cherished reunion with a force of nature

A cherished reunion with a force of nature

The first meeting

My first encounter with wine from Cyprus was in Berlin. A friend brought along a few bottles and I got to try them. A full-bodied, round red wine was so good that I was given a bottle as a gift to take home. It was enjoyed a few months later with a piece of grilled Swedish Elk fillet. A match made in heaven, as it would turn out.

The source

On my recent visit to the beautiful island of Cyprus, I had the opportunity to visit the source of this wine and meet the winemaker himself.
Savvas Fakoukakis at Dafermou Winery is a force of nature. A native of Crete, he has made Cyprus his home since many years.
As we walk through the winery, Savvas talks passionately about his thoughts and philosophy on wine production. His vision is clear; to produce the best possible wine. Quality rather than quantity.
We get to taste some samples directly from the barrels and he talks engagingly about his vision of combining the best of his two worlds, Greece and Cyprus, in one wine. The wine we get to taste has the working name Symbiosis and is a combination of the Greek grape Xinomavro and the native Cypriot variety Giannoudi. (Also spelled Yiannoudi) It is still young and the tannins are, shall we say, prominent. But the fruit, the spices, the complexity are there. This is a wine well worth waiting for and will in a few years grow into a beauty.
Like all good winemakers, Savvas has respect for the grape and wants to preserve as far as possible the unique character of each variety.

Don’t mark the wine

Many of the wines have come into contact with wood at some point in their lives, but Savvas is very mindful that the wood only adds depth and dimension to the wine and in no way takes over. To quote him: ”They are not allowed to mark the wine. ” He is therefore experimenting with 4 different types of barrels, each with its own special character.
The desire to experiment is also clearly visible when he picks up a sparkling Assyrtiko! It is a test, and they have experimented with different levels of sugar. The one we get to try contains 6 grams, which is unfortunately a bit too much. Something Savvas himself also agrees on. Underneath the sweetness, however, you can sense a fresh, full-bodied sparkling wine. Exactly when this test is ready for the market remains to be seen. But I hope it won’t be too long.

We meet again

So what about the wine that once made me take a closer look at the wines of Cyprus? Well, my favourite is still being made and I get the chance to try the ’23 vintage. Not yet bottled and I get to taste directly from the barrel.
It is just as I remember it, with clear notes of dark berries, bay leaves, cloves and roasted chocolate.
When we part, I have a bottle of Giannoudi 2022 with me. Now I just have to find a moose and a barbecue ….

Maria Scharffenberg
Sommelier and Teacher

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