Amyndeon Appellation, North West Greece.
The Amyndeon viticulture zone covers an area of around 700 ha. Dominant variety and exclusively participating in the Protected Designation of Origin "Amyndeon" is the red grape Xinomavro. Other varieties, participating in the Protected Geographical Indication ‘’Florina’’ are the white varieties Sauvignon blanc, Roditis, Malagouzia and the red varieties Syrah, Merlot, Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Montepulciano, Negro Amaro, Mavrodaphne.
It is the most Northern viticulture zone in Greece and its main characteristic is its location on a mountain plateau at an altitude between 560 and 720 meters. The region’s mesoclimate is determined by lakes Vegoritida and Petron, located inside the appellation area.
It is a region with low (even very low during summer) precipitation, combined with abundant sunshine. The high altitude provides desired temperature fluctuations between night and day, resulting in an extended growth season, during which, the aromatic, phenolic and technological maturities of the grown grapes arrive at their optimum.
The appearance of constant northern winds is a major advantage for reducing pest risks in the area. Another important viticulture advantage is the sandy soils of the zone providing excellent drainage in rainy years and desirable water restriction levels for red grapes.
The 2014 winter didn’t provide enough snow, just like the previous year, nor high rainfall. Winter was relatively cool and budburst was observed with a slight delay compared to the zone average.
Significant rainfalls during March, April and May replenished soil water reserves but at the same time increased the necessity for preventive phytosanitary actions.
This fact, combined with the delayed start of the growing season suggested a late harvest. This was reinforced by the relatively low temperatures during the same months.
It was a year when extensive vineyard mapping via leaf and soil analysis were used to decide all necessary corrections in vineyard nutrient status, therefore providing balance vine growth during the season
At the same time, and due to the increased spring precipitation, a permanent inter-row cover crop was maintained throughout the vineyard, to secure balanced vine development.
The scarce but heavy July rainfalls where not efficient for vine water supply and, as consequence, water limitations appeared relatively early. Signs of early arrest of shoot growth confirmed the phenomenon. The necessity for irrigation appeared in July, which was not common in this area for many years.
A characteristic of the current season, that affected many vine-growing regions, were the intense hail storms that, fortunately, did not affect the Amyndeon zone. It is a fact though that should be a major concern to all.
Veraison occurred under very favorable conditions green harvest (if applied) was perfectly synchronized within the week of its completion for each variety.
Harvest for the early white varieties occurred with a slight delay, but only for the indigenous varieties Malagouzia and Assyrtiko. So far, temperatures above 33οC have been avoided, and in addition to the cool night temperatures of 17οC assured steady ripening conditions and achieved ideal maturity levels.
It is the second consecutive year where satellite remote data from hyper-spectral sensors provided the possibility to determine with high precision the differences in ripeness levels between and within blocks of the vineyard, in order to harvest differentially.
The applied viticultural practices, in combination with irrigation management was the determinant factor that differentiate this particular vintage from the previous.
It is estimated that such a cool year would present complex and aromatic wines, while for the red varieties, as long as September would have developed normally, we will enjoy red wines of excellent potential.
However, September was extremely rainy and meteorologically unstable, resulting in a radical change of vine management for the red varieties. Harvest date had to be decided considering mainly weather data and the level of hygiene of the grapes. Selection is necessary after many years also inside the winery.
Despite all these conditions, the early signs of ripening (seed color change) for Syrah, proved to be excellent. Of course difficulties will exist for the varieties that follow. Fortunately, good weather conditions at the end of September and the first days of October, when ripening for Xinomavro occurs, will help rescuing the potential of the largest volume of our remaining red varieties.
Winemaker Alpha Estate