Potent and provocative, the scent of fermenting grapes saturated the air. Every step forward through the must of warm, soft, Pinot Noir grape clusters felt like trying to move quickly through a swimming pool with leg weights on. The cap was heavy and hard to stir. Yet we persevered, mixing the juice and cap to extract maximum color, flavor and tannin.
Within about ten minutes, the scales fell off my eyes. I had blithely tossed "carbonic maceration" into conversations for years while remaining almost totally ignorant of its implications. And what might those be?
Xinomavro is an indigenous grape variety that grows in Northern Greece and is anything but common. Wines made from this variety lack primary fruit on the nose; instead one finds an intriguing combination of olives and tomatoes. But on the palate, raspberry flavours typically shine through. The colour is often pale and relatively unstable, and can evolve quickly into a tawny colour in the glass. The rim often looks mature even in young wines.