Thymiopoulos

Apostolos Thymiopoulos, the current head of operations at the family winery, is described by many as the young star of Greek wine. The family has been growing grapes for generations, but it was Apostolos' father that first began to do so commercially: he grew grapes to sell to local wineries, and took the task of cultivating good-quality grapes very seriously indeed.

His passion obviously rubbed off onto his son, who went on to study oenology in Athens. It was during his studies that he and the family began seriously experimenting with the xinomavro grape. They had been growing it for some years, but now they wanted to bring this indigenous northern Greek variety to the rest of the world in a new, modern, high-quality form. Apostolos released his first wine - the 2003 vintage - in 2005. Named Ghi Kai Uranos ('earth and sky'), it possessed qualities similar to that of modern Barolo, with powerful, concentrated ripe fruit, excellent acidity and good ageing potential.

Xinomavro actually means 'sour black' (it has also been translated as 'black of Naoussa') and this gives a good description of its key characteristics: a dark colour and high acidity. Its healthy tannins means it is likely we will enjoy watching some of the earlier wines evolve for many years to come. Another of xinomavro's key characteristics is a remarkable ability to reflect the land in which it is grown, so the vineyards are of course key to its character. It isn't grown with any particular success anywhere outside of Naoussa, which is possibly why Apostolos and his family now dedicate their production to this one variety in an attempt to champion this underrated region.

Over the years, they have converted to biodynamic viticulture, and Apostolos lets the vineyards' character shine through by not interfering with nature too much. For instance, he does not prune the vines so they can find their own balance, and he is careful not to over-irrigate as it can lead to unpleasantly dominant tannins. Various pests are an issue - in particular, wild boar from the surrounding woods have a very sweet tooth - but Apostolos uses nature to counteract them. For instance, to counteract a plague of locusts in 2012, he released fifty guinea fowl into the vineyards who quickly devoured the problem!

The vineyards' stony, chalky, green slate and red marble soils come in a beautiful mosaic of different colours, and Thymiopoulos' vineyards have the added bonus of being up to 50 years old, with established root systems and excellent drainage.

In his small winery in Trilofos, the winemaking process is very gentle so as to retain the wines' fruit character. Apostolos is also beginning to make white wine using the magalousia grape at a friend's winery in central Greece.

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