Wine lovers welcome
Wine o'clock at Kava
Most people have a favourite wine. For Viktor Finopoulos, our resident wine expert, it's Commandaria, an amber coloured, sweet dessert wine made in the Commandaria region, on the foothills of the Troodos mountains.
“I remember my father used to always have a bottle of it in the cabinet,’ he says enjoying a glass. “It’s the most underestimated product I know. It’s just €15, but a port of this complexity and roundness deserves to be €50 or more.”
Viktor offers wine tasting sessions at Casale. And being chief consultant on the new winery and vineyards currently in construction, he is the best person for the job.
He explains how the wine is made from two Cypriot varieties – Xynisteri and Mavro and that it has a rich history - once served at the C12th wedding of King Richard the Lionheart in Limassol, who pronounced it "the wine of kings and the king of wines”.
“We Cypriots used to make a lot of our own wine in the past,” he says. “But then the trend became to import international varieties. Like Sauvignon, which does well here. Now that trend is reversing again.
Part of Viktor’s job involves experimenting with local, rare varieties that have never before been processed professionally in the region– like Giannoudi. He seems to have a difficult relationship with that particular vine, comparing it unfavourably with the bold, green Xynisteri plants, which are thriving on top of the mountains surrounding the village.
“I am nervous. If it is successful, it will be an amazing wine. But currently the flowers are not pollinating. So we are planting the vines next to a variety of others in the hope that that helps.”
One wine Viktor likes people to try at his tastings is a Rose Maratheftiko. It is equally an extremely difficult variety to produce, because of pollination problems. Maratheftiko has a refreshing and crisp acidity, but also a dry and fruity taste. He says most people are pleasantly surprised by it and that currently the variety is considered the most interesting for red wine.
The red he offers though is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Vlassides winery in Limmasol.
“I like it, because of the dark chocolate tones.” He says. “It’s not typical of the variety, but it might be because of the hot weather here.”
He explains that hotter summers have boosted average percentages of alcohol. As he picks up the glass to look through it, he notes that most other wine producing countries struggle to extract the colour from the wine, but in Cyprus they struggle not to - as the warm weather produces concentrated dark reds.
With the Casale Panayiotis winery still under construction, Vicktor spends most of his days visiting the vineyards, checking the plants, deciding when to irrigate and when to harvest.
“I love my job. It never feels like a routine. Everything is always changing. Everything depends on the weather. You have to go along with nature, but at the same time technology is important and I have to stay on top of my research.”
By 2019 he hopes all of Casale’s varieties will have been planted – Xynisteri, Sauvignon, Syrah, Gianoudi, Zifandel and Moschofilero.
“The aim eventually is to not only have winetasting in the Cava bar, but on top of the mountains too.” His preferred location for that is at 1125m, on the highest mountain in the area, with the best view of the surrounding villages and vineyards. You can even see the sea.
There is only one thing, he says half-jokingly, that could scupper their plans now. Phylloxera. Insects that crossed over from America to Europe in the C19th managing to destroy most of France’s vineyards. “They never made it to Cyprus. Let’s hope they never do.”
Cheers to that.