Greek Wines, KIR-YIANNI ESTATE Vintage Report 2010

KIR-YIANNI ESTATE Vintage Report 2010

2010: A surprising good year!

“Weird”, was the only word we could think of to describe the 2010 vintage. We decided that this word was the most appropriate for a year that was peculiar, full of changes, filled with hope and despair, with beneficial rains in spring and hot days in summer, and rainy again by the end of the harvest! Patience, close monitoring of the vineyard and careful selection on the vine and then in the winery were the main features of a vintage that started out with the best of omens, developed as a moderate year in terms of quality, but now that we taste the first samples from selected wines, we’re beginning to consider a very promising and full of surprises one. Let time be the final judge!

1. Naoussa area

A very peculiar year, mainly characterized by increased rainfall until the end of June, moderately hot temperatures in July, and two unusually unstable ripening months (August and July), which slowed down the ripening process of all the varieties.

Kir-Yianni Estate

The year started out with increased water reserves and normal temperatures (diagram 1). For most of the varieties, the growing season started normally, in early April.

Rainfall (diagram 2) occurring throughout the spring period, but also in June, in combination with the season’s favorable temperatures, resulted in the acceleration of the growing rhythm.

In mid-May, strong winds blowing over a period of 24 hours led to an early trimming in some Xinomavro blocks, which caused either increased grape size or flower abortion, depending on the different growing phases of the vines.

Blooming occurred in the last ten days of May for Syrah and Merlot (as usual) and a little later than usual, by the end of June, for Xinomavro.

July was a period of very favorable temperatures, with no recorded heat waves. For Merlot the veraison took place by the end of the month, while for Syrah it was completed in early August and for Xinomavro in mid-August, much later than in previous years, a fact that led us to think that we would have an early harvest season.

In mid-August, a heat wave occurred with temperatures above 40o C over a period of 3-4 days. And while, up until then, all evidence pointed to an early harvest, the heat wave slowed down the ripening process by shocking the vines.

By the end of August, very low temperatures of even below 14ο C were marked during the night, something that was repeated in September. As a consequence, by the end of August, the skin of most of the varieties was unusually thick, presenting an extremely bitter taste.

It was obvious that the abrupt changes of temperature had activated some defense mechanisms of the vines which caused the production of increased quantities of phenolic compounds in the skins of the grapes, and a delay in the sugar production process. It was one of these rare times when phenolic maturity precedes sugar concentration. Waiting for a higher sugar concentration and for the bitterness in the skins to wane, and based on the results of the taste analysis of the berries, we decided to harvest Merlot in the first third and Syrah in the last third of September.

The bitterness in the skin of Xinomavro started to fade by the end of September, and so the first blocks of ripe Xinomavro were collected before the rains that occurred in October.

More than 45 mm of rain followed, but the grapes managed to resist. We harvested the center of the Xinomavro blocks separately from the edges in the first 10 days of October, using the method of berry-by-berry selection, the same that we use for the harvesting of all the varieties.

Fermentation in the Merlot tanks has already been completed giving intensely-colored, high in alcohol wines, with an intense and also distinct aromatic character depending on their block of origin.

Syrah has given very high in alcohol, aromatic wines, with a high phenolic index, something that makes the wines seem ready to drink even at this early stage, a characteristic of a great year.

Xinomavro is lower in alcohol than in previous years, but shows an intense fruity character, soft tannins and lively color, while the blocks of the Xinomavro clones are once again distinguished by their accentuated character.

Malolactic fermentation has started in almost all tanks, and the first results give us reason to speak of a year that, even if it is not the great year that we expected, it is definitely a very good one.


2. Amyndeon area

Until the end of September it was an excellent year with respect to the weather conditions. Rainfall occurred through the end of June, while the temperatures were favorable for the good ripening of most of the varieties. Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions in October made the ripening of Xinomavro more difficult.

Kir-Yianni Estate

The growing season started normally for most of the varieties. A rainy spring, in combination with temperatures favorable for the growing and the development of the vines (diagrams 1 and 2), but also the rains that lasted until the end of June, contributed to an increase in the size of grape bunches, and to abundant production levels both in the Kir-Yianni Estate and in the vineyards contracted with the Estate. All our white varieties presented an excellent grape to leaf ratio, a fact that resulted in the good ripening of the grapes.

The rains that occurred in early September delayed the harvest of most of the varieties by a few days, but without causing any further problems.

Sauvignon was harvested in the first half of September, Chardonnay between the 15th and the 20th of September, Traminer and Merlot between the 20th and the 25th of September, while the harvest of Roditis and Syrah started by the end of the same month.

Unfortunately, October started out with abundant rains and low temperatures making the ripening of Xinomavro more difficult.

The white wines of the Estate seem to be of excellent quality (intensely aromatic, high in alcohol and balanced), and so does Merlot, while the quality of Xinomavro and Syrah varies depending on the vineyard block and the different viticultural practices applied.

The slow ripening process of Syrah gave wines with an intense aromatic character and medium in alcohol.

Xinomavro was harvested in three phases: First we harvested the grapes with a higher sugar content for the production of red wines, then, in the second phase, we harvested the grapes with a medium sugar content, for the production of rose wines, while the more immature grapes were picked last for the production of sparkling wine.

This years results confirm once again that Amyndeon is an area suitable for the growing of white varieties and early harvest red varieties. In most years, late-harvest Xinomavro is difficult to ripen, even if its production is limited to less than 10,000 kilos/ha, with the exception of the old Xinomavro vines and the vines coming from selected, low yielding vineyards.

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