Cyprus wines

A work in progress

By Panos Kakaviatos for

11 May 2017

The fresh sea and air. The music. Fantastic food and kind people. Pafos, Cyprus? “Paradise,” quipped our lovely and engaging tour guide Mary Patrouklou. I joined several other participants on a tour of Cypriot vineyards earlier this month, to learn about their ancient history and to understand the current wine scene.

Our tour, including several stops in charming villages as well as wineries, built up to an award winning ceremony in the 10th annual Cyprus Wine Competition. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either. It would have been better for organizers to have done more publicity, including an English-language website.

But more on that later. Judges included dear friend and Hellenic wine specialist Demetri Walters MW, with whom I had judged two years before at a wine competition in Thessalonika, and Bordeaux-based Marie-Laurence Porte, whom I will see next month at Bordeaux’s Vinexpo.

It’s only Greek to us.

No wines that we tried were transcendental. Some were very good. Others not so. What mattered most were the enthusiastic and committed Cypriot winemakers who, in just the past decade or so, have raised the bar on Cypriot wine quality, emphasizing indigenous grapes.

Not that long ago, one saw many more vineyards on the island, mainly used to make cheap quaffers sold, primarily, to the Soviet Union. Or at least bartered in exchange for raw materials, as Angelos Tsangarides of the Tsangarides Winery explained.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Cypriot government paid wineries to either uproot vines or to make smaller wineries, committed to quality. Tsangarides chose the latter path. Committed to organic winemaking, he points out how the generation of his parents had focused on volume, but not so earlier generations. “You had to go back to our grandparents, who followed even back then the tenets of biodynamic and organic winemaking,” he said. Read More


Médoc 2016 from barrel

Mags of Château Potensac and Château de Lamarque, among other good deals!

Bordeaux 2016 barrel tasting notes

10 May 2017

By Panos Kakaviatos for

As seen already, the northern Médoc did very well especially from barrel. Budget conscious buyers will find cru bourgeois level wines with high quality. Including for example Château Potensac, which was released recently for about €20 a bottle. In my opinion a great deal! This section includes appellations to the south, such as Moulis (some more expensive than others), including classified growths like Château La Lagune, as well as pricier, non-classified growths like Château Sociando Mallet: both highly recommended.

Media tastings at the UGCB included many fine Médoc, Haut Médoc, Listrac and Moulis wines

Among the very best: Château La Lagune, Château Potensac, Château Sociando Mallet

Among best bargains: Château de Lamarque, Château Clarke, Château Brillette

Wines in bold, I liked in particular. When red and bold, even more. And when underlined, too, a kind of barrel tasting nirvana – for both price point and category. Read More

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St Emilion 2000, 15 years on

15 years in bottle: How do the “big boys” compare?

By Panos Kakaviatos for

2 May 2017

Since January this year, I had wanted to organize a blind tasting of Saint Emilion 2000, to compare the top classified growths against “lesser” pedigrees.

It would be a follow up to a blind tasting that I had organized in Strasbourg back in June 2005, to compare the then, virtually nouveaux nés 2000s. So I contacted my wine tasting pal Kevin Shin, in Washington D.C., who liked the idea, to help out with a venue and to get a group together, for what are now adolescent Saint Emilions: still youthful, but at least approaching early drinking windows.

Each participant brought wines, including Ausone and Cheval Blanc. I brought, for example, the two Beau Séjours, Angélus, Figeac, Canon La Gaffelière, Bélair, one of two Clos Fourtets.

Many thanks to the Association de Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion for donating several bottles on behalf of their members to take part in the blind tasting, that included, as previously mentioned, many “heavy weights,” including as well Pavie, Pavie-Macquin, Troplong Mondot, Valandraud and others.

And thanks, too, to the owner of Château Corbin-Michotte, a wine that should not have been demoted in the last assessment of the Saint Emilion, in my opinion. And the tasting showed that it was a well esteemed wine. Read More


Pauillac and Saint Julien: Sweet Spots

Bordeaux 2016 barrel tasting notes

New addition: Sensual and strong Saint Julien!

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

2 May 2017

When I was tasting barrel samples in Bordeaux with wine author Jane Anson, exclusive Bordeaux en primeur critic for Decanter, blogger and ace photographer Miguel Lecuona and Bloomberg writer and wine author Elin McCoy, we were marveling at how amazing Léoville Las Cases was.

We had similar reactions at Latour and at Lafite Rothschild.

Latour (photo by Miguel Lecuona)

When I tasted Grand Puy Lacoste with writer Adam Lechmere, and Léoville Poyferré and Ducru Beaucaillou on my own?

Once again: enthusiastic tasting reactions. Read More

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The revenge of Saint Estèphe

Bordeaux 2016 barrel tasting notes

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

29 April 2017

Most readers have read the positive feedback from the barrel samples of Bordeaux 2016, including from me.  Yes, there is hype, as usual, and some prices are high (such as for Cos d’Estournel, one merchant told me), but I do believe that 2016 is a more homogeneously positive than 2015. That is to say that the highs of 2016 seem higher than most highs in 2015. And the low points of 2016 seem not as low as the low points of 2015.

Don’t get me wrong: I liked 2015 a lot. But I got an overall more exciting impression from 2016. Now that does not apply to Margaux: in 2015, Margaux was wondrous virtually across the board. In 2016, it was merely good to some cases of great. Same goes – albeit to a lesser extent – for Graves and Pessac-Léognan. But you can find class acts from both regions in 2016. Contrast that to 2015 and, say, Saint Estèphe. It was mostly a bit lacklustre in 2015. But, as Ulysses Cazabonne representative Robin Corvet, said it: 2016 is the “revenge of Saint Estèphe.” What better place to start? Read More

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