Tasting the wines of Cyprus

These notes accompany a in-depth feature on Cyprus. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: Cyprus, a new age for ancient wines.


Zambartas Xynisteri-Semillon 2007
Xynisteri accounts for 85% of the blend. Fresh and clean, with some skin-contact aromas giving a touch of pear skin and orchard fruit. Lemony and fresh in the mouth, there’s a touch of herbal quality. Really crisp and clean mid-palate, with good texture, and a dry, pithy lemon acidity as well as a nicely lanolin quality just sneaking through. 88/100.

Zambartas Xynisteri 2008
The 2008 version saw 5% barrel-fermentation of the Xynisteri to add texture, and there was only 5% Semillon in the blend. Very much more lemony and fresh, then that slightly skinny, grippy quality again. Has a waxy, grippy feel on the palate too, the barrel component adding a touch of vanilla to orangy richness. Maintains lots of tang and lemony freshness. 89/100.

Zambartas Semillon 2008
With a touch of Xynisteri and a proportion of the Semillon barrel-fermented. Quite nutty and rich, with lemon and a touch of lanolin. On the palate this has a pure, light, lemony fruit. Has good structure, with elegant acidity. Quite grippy. 88/100.

Zambartas Lefkada-Cabernet Franc Rosé 2007
Lefkada is an indigenous grape name after a Greek island. Very ripe, fresh, red berry and strawberry fruit. Very full and fresh. Again, that ripe and creamy weight of red fruits, with a touch of tannin adding an edge and very good acidity. Quite a stylish rosé this I must say. 88/100

Zambartas Lefkada-Cabernet Franc Rosé 2008
A little reduced at first, with a touch of leafiness, and a tight, raspberry and reducrrant fruit. Less sweet and creamy than the 2007, but then adds a layer of complexity and structure. Tannins grip the finish, with very fresh acidity elongating this wine. 88/100

Zambartas Shiraz-Lefkada 2007
A wine that sees 100% new oak, the Shiraz in American barrels, with Lefkada in higher toast French oak to subdue the tannins of the Lefkada. Akis says “Lefkada is a wild beast, you need to tame it.” Composed of 65% Shiraz, it has a big, gamy, bloody nose with a touch of reduction. Plummy and meaty. Pretty bold and sinewy on the palate, with lots of grip and mouth-coating tannins. A big wine, with masses of substance and extraction. Doesn’t quite push through at this stage, with a slightly disjointed feel, but probably needs just a year in bottle and hints at great potential. 90/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Olympus Winery Nefeli 2008
Xynisteri with a touch of Chardonnay. Fresh, lemony, a touch of that pear skin character I find in many Xynisteri wines. Quite fresh and crisp, and a very enjoyable, thirst quenching style. 85/100

Olympus Winery Xynisteri 2008
Grape selection and 15% barrel ageing. Lovely nose, with a touch of Sauvignon-like bell pepper, and a flinty, smoky minerality. Very fresh, a touch of pear fruit. On the palate nice texture and juicy, pear-skin flavour. Touches of lime and more minerality. A lovely wine. 88/100

Olympus Winery Chardonnay 2008
A touch of mealiness and of herbal quality, in a nice clean style. Some creaminess in backgroiund. Plenty of green fruit acidity and majors on lemony fruit. 85/100

Olympus Winery Semeli 2007
A blend of mostly Rhône varieties. A touch of meaty, plummy character and quite nice fruit on the palate, with a warmth and robust red fruit. Finishes with a little sweetness that is flattering against the rather inky tannins. 86/100

Olympus Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Nice, bright, bold Cabernet fruit with a touch of leafy mint but good blackcurrant characer. The palate has a cool, celan fruitiness, with a certain juiciness and plenty of hefty, grippy tannin in the finish. 86/100

Olympus Winery Merlot 2007
From a certified organic vineyard. A bit of charm on the noie here, with a touch of creaminess to the fruit. The palate is dense and quite fleshy, a touch of sulphur evident, big chewy tannins. 86/100

Olympus Winery Maratheftiko 2007
Quite a perfumed character, with an inkiness too and red cherry and plum notes. Big and grippy, but a rounding sense of vanilla and very deep and mouth-filling fruit. 87/100

Olympus Winery Syrah 2007
Bold and dep fruit, good black fruit and plenty of oak adding vanilla and cream. The palate comes good, with a smoothness to the tannins on this wine (though still huge) and the solid fruit quality coming through. Very good balance in this wine, and long too. 88/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Vlasides Syrah 2008
Barrel sample. Lovely fruit, with spicy layer of soft oak, but the fruit is bold and fresh; a really good, relatively straightforward Syrah at this stage, but with terrific zest and clarity. Lovely, with fine tannins and wonderful balance. 92/100

Vlasides Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
60% Merlot. Big, sweet, quite plush nose, with plummy red fruit and some vanilla. On the palate quite grippy, slightly tougher than the Shiraz, slightly more drying tannins, but still a very good wine with structure. Quite a powerful style. 89/100.

Vlasides Syrah 2007
Lightly herbal notes, again good, crisp, lithe and lively fruit. Slightly less concentrated on the palate than the 2008 andjust lacks a little of the density. Still a crisp, fine quality Syrah. Sophoclese says this had only been bottled for two weeks at time of tasting. 90/100

Vlasides Maratheftiko 2006
Sophocles explains this grape was traditionally found in field blends, used with Mavro to add body and colour. It comes from a plot of 50-year-old vines and has a distinctive, resinous, herbal and earthy nose. The palate has really good fruit and gamy qualities, and it has excellent balance with quite a fine tannin. 89/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Tsiakkas Xynisteri 2008
All grapes for this wine are bought in from a very old – 50 years plus – vineyard. The nose is clean, bright, though fairly neutral. There’s a background touch of herbs and a gentle touch of pear. The palate has a heavier, oilier mouthfeel, with pretty good fruit on the mid-palate. I find this a touch phenolic in the finish, but it has tang and a bit of style. 86/100

Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Until their own vineyards come on stream, Tsiakkas buys Sauvignon Blanc grown at relatively low altitude. There’s an apple and lemon fruitiness here, though it is fairly subdued, with just a hint of something nettly in the background. The palate has a little phenolic astringency, though some god acidity and lemony fruit pierces through. 86/100

Tsiakkas Chardonnay 2008
Creamy, nicely herbal and vegetal notes to orchard fruits. Fresh and zippy, lots of apple and melon and tangy lemon acidity. Commercial but drinking well. 86/100

Tsiakkas Merlot 2006
Tomato leaf greenness. Maybe even hinting at chrysanthemum. Decent wine on palate, with a bit of juiciness, but I’m not really keen on this. 85/100

Tsiakkas Vamvakada 2005
Vamvakada is another name for Maratheftiko. Quite earthy, though quite solid red fruit on the nose. A nice fleshy roundness on the palate, with one year in barrel giving some weight and softness to rather herbal fruit. Not huge length, but dense and chewy tannins, freshening acidity and a bit of substance. 86/100

Tsiakkas Vamvakada 2006
Served cold from the cellar, which helps sharpen it up slightly, but I still find this rather dusty and baked, with a dullish, slightly herbal palate. 85/100

Tsiakkas Vamvakada 2007
Has a slightly gamier nose, with still a slightly cooked quality. Leathery. The palate is big-boned and dense, with a sweetness to the fruit that adds a level of complexity (and enjoyment) to the slightly tough, leathery, herbal quality. A touch longer too. 88/100

Tsiakkas Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
The cherry and blackcurrant nose is fruity and pastille-like. Very open and flattering. The palate is simple and fruity too, though with a hefty tannic background and the sweetness playing nicely against acidity. Subtle oak. 87/100

Tsiakkas Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Quite tight, with tightly-wound black fruit showing a little kirsch and a little minerality. The oak is pretty dominant on the palate at this stage (only weeks out of barrel) adding a resinous vanillin note to quite firm fruit. This seems firmer and more savoury than the 2005. 88/100

Tsiakkas Commandaria style
Not a commercial product, this is a Commanderia lookalike aged in two to three year old barriques or 300-litre barrels. Unlike the traditional Commandaria stsyle, the barrels are topped up regularly so the wine does not oxidise. “A very different style from Commandaria,” says Costas Tsiakkas. Lovely rich, thick, toffee and raisin nose. Unctuous, rich palate, with a touch of tannin, fudge and nuts and lovely lemony twist and good acidity. 90/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Kamanterena Chardonnay 2007
Nicely pitched oak adding some cream and toast to nutty peach fruit. A little orange tang and a hint of sweetness. 86/100

Kamanterena Merlot 2006
Eight months in French barrels adds toast and vanilla in a nose that is pretty flashy, with good solid chocolate and plum fruit and a soft and easy drinking finish. 86/100

Kamanterena Maratheftiko 2005
Big, savoury, black olive and rustic, earthy nose. A touch inky and extracted on the palate, but savoury and chewy, tannic finish. 85/100

Kamanterena Lefkada 2005
Dense, dry, quite meaty nose with a touch of inky, paint-box character. Meat stock amd mouth-filling, dry tannins, hasa hint of something plummy and deep. Quite enjoyable in its rustic way. 86/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Ezousa Xinisteri 2008
Very fresh, bright pear-drop nose. Little background of something oatmeally. Touch of herbs. On the palate this has a nice texture, with a touch of oxidation through 10% old barrels, which fits very nicely giving an added complexity. Low acidity, and not for keeping, but lovely flavours. 88/100

Ezousa Maratheftiko Rosé 2008
One hour maceration only, but gives lots of colour. Quite a deep salmon pink. Herbal aromas, with clean, gentle fruitiness. Flattering touch of sugar on the palate (9g/l) makes it soft and ewasy drinking, with a bit of strawberry fruit and a bit of weight and texture. 87/100

Ezousa Cabernet Sauvignon Mataro Marvo 2006
40% Cabernet and 30 each of Mataro and Marvo. Slightly reductive, but some solid, chunky, earthy black fruit comes through and a touch of smoky oak. The palate has good fruit, with dry, mouth-filling tannins and the oak maybe just drying the finish a little. 86/100

Ezousa Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Quite ripe and jammy, like blackcurrant jam with a touch of creamy oak adding some vanilla. Nice big soft, ripe, sweet fruit and excellent Cabernet expression, with the tannins coming in pretty abruptly, but the oak does soften and balance the finish. 88/100

Ezousa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Quite fresh, with good black fruit character and a fairly tight aromatic profile, just a touch of mint and a touch of charry barrel. The palate too is tight, with a slightly astringent feel to the oaky tannins and a finish that is a bit lean. This could flesh out nicely in anther year in bottle. 87/100

Ezousa Maratheftiko 2003
There’s a slightly animal, slightly barnyard character, with a lack of fruit. The palate too is dry and rather dull, the thinnish body and highish acidity along with the lack of sweetness and mid-palate richness. Has personality and rustic character, but not entirely convincing. 85/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Kolios ‘Persefone’ Xinisteri 2008
Very aromatic, with real Sauvignon-like punch and masses of bright lemony fruit with a grassy edge. Palate too really delivers a great, vibrant, zesty punch. A terrific xinisteri that avoids the slightly phenolic character and a very convincing Xinisteri. 89/100

Kolios ‘Corneto’ Mavro Rosé 2008
Very dark, crimson rosé. Pretty paint box aromas of light cherry and a touch of redcurrant. The palate is fresh though feels pretty alcoholic (13.5). 86/100

Kolios ‘St Fotios’ 2005
60% Maratheftiko, 40% Mavro, this has a slightly inky character, not a huge amount of fruit. More spice and a touch of cherry skins. Slightly dry, ashy finish. 85/100

Kolios Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Ripe, sweet blackcurrant, cassis character. Mint and camphor character on the palate, with peppermint oil concentration. It is medium bodied and fresh, with good concentration and length. Quite creamy and cool in the minty finish. 88/100

Kolios Syrah 2002
Again a welterweight of minty, chocolaty character,which I presume is American oak. Very ripe black fruit beneath. The palate has huge fruit sweetness with layers of blackcurrant and plum, and a freshening core of tannin and acidity. This is international in style, but has a great fruit quality and a smooth, suave finish that is impressive. 89/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Vasa Chardonnay 2005
Lightly touched by vanilla and almond, quite straightforward apple aromas. Quite a lot of oak on the palate, with very classy toast and sesame seed, and a cool, restrained fruit coming trhrough. This is a strucured and beautifully pitched Chardonnay, and perphaps the classiest on the island. 89/100

Vasa Mourvèdre 2007
One year in oak for this wine, which has quite a meaty, typically mourvèdre nose, with a touch of wild, gamy quality to deep-set black fruit. Very fine and svelte, with a plush, fine fruit on the palate. 89/100

Vasa Maratheftiko 2007
Double gold winner at the 2009 Cyprus national wine competition, this is really very fine, and they have captured really good fruit and lovely silky concentration from the Maratheftiko. Good length too, in a very refines, characterful but elegant wine. 89/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Hadjiantonas Chardonnay 2008
Three months ageing in barrel, but not fermented in oak “It’s too dangerous in Cyprus,” says Theo Hadjiantonas, “because of the temperatures here.” Lemony fruit and freshness cuts trhough a sheen of creamy oak. A touch of green apple. On the palate very fresh and tangy, with lots of citrus juiciness. Oak delicately handled and this will improve. 90/100. Sells for 25 – 30 euros locally.

Hadjiantonas Chardonnay 2007
A very nicely oaked Chardonnay, with a gently mamalade and toast nose and little glimpses of peachy ripeness. The palate stays fresh and tangy, but the ripe fruit and creamy oak rounds things out. A really nice drink this. 88/100

Hadjiantonas Syrah 2005
No shortage of powerfully spicy and resinous oak it has a really rather liquoricy density and the oak does seem overdone. The rich, warm, summer berry fruit comes through powerfully, with plenty of ripeness and spice, a touch of black pepper, but then the creamy richness of the oak adds a chocolaty depth and length. Excellent, though would be better with the oak reined back. 89/100

Hadjiantonas Shiraz 2007
Bottled two weeks ago. Grapes from a single vineyard at altitude in the Nicosia region. Very solid black fruit, showing through with a more pastille quality that is attractive. Nice background of earthy spice and black pepper. The palate perhaps lacks a touch of fruit at this stage – though that may well be the proximity to bottling – as the tannins seem finer than the 2005 and the wine better balanced. Potentially a very good Shiraz. 88-89/100

Hadjiantonas Cabernet Shiraz 2006
Clean, quite pure, with a nice touch of Cabernet game and black olive, and a good core of fruit. A layer of oak adds a slightly resinous touch. The palate has a chewy density, with good black fruit and a roughening edge of quite rustic tannin. This has good fruit though, which pushes through to a balanced finish. 88/100

Hadjiantonas Sweet Semi-Sparkling Muscat 2007
Nicely soft and peachy, with small creamy and toffee notes and some fragrant muscat character. Nicely peachy palate, with gentle bubbles and fresh acidity. 88/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus


Kyperounda Patritis Xinisteri 2002
Nose shows a lot of malolactic, with toasty and nutty notes, a hint of honey. On the palate this has that clean, citrusy core of Xinisteri fruit, with the a deal of cool minerality. Perhaps a touch hollower on the palate than the nose suggested, but intriguing. Just becoming a little flat with age. 87/100

Kyperounda Petritis Xinisteri 2003
Powerful malolactic aromas with oatmeal and bread and a toasty nuttiness. The palate has a little more vibrancy and punch to it, and acidity has held up well. Delicious. 88-89/100

Kyperounda Patritis Xinisteri 2004
Almost Burgundian cabbagy buttery ripeness and creamy oak quality. The herbal notes and lemon of the Xinisteri. The palate has orange and lemon, and just a nutty, herbal background with oak filling in. A touch fading perhaps, but delicious. 88/100

Kyperounda Patritis Xinisteri 2005
Lots of buttery, sweet oak influence on the nose again, with white fruit and lemon. The palate has a cool, fresh, nicely balanced mid-palate with a bit of fruit intensity. Quite a long, balanced finish with the creamy oak and fresh fruit and acid in a nice tension. 88/100

Kyperounda Patritis Xinisteri 2006
Nutty, with a clean feeling the oak just adding a touch of toast and cream to quite rounded lemon fruit. The mid palate has lots of intensity and a built of body. Keeps really good focus and intensity through the mid-palate, with real verve and punch and a tang. 90/100

Kyperounda Patritis Xinisteri 2007
Lovely nose, the quality of oak is very fine, with honey, almonds and butter. The fruit is almost pineapply and bright with a touch of tropical lychee before the very clean palate with real intensity and great length. 90/100

Kyperounda Andessitis 2006
55% cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Mataro. Very clean, fresh, pure black and red fruit that is just nicely rounded out by cedary oak. Has a black cherry gloss and sweetness. On the palate this has a great fruit sweetness at the core, with silky, supple texture and great ripeness of tannins. Fabulous stuff. Sells for a crazy five euros retail. 89/100

Kyperounda Rosé 2008
Grenache and Syrah, weighing in with 14.5% ABV. Vibrant light cherry colour. Lovely cherry fruit, with plenty of brightness and vibrancy. The palate is off-dry (9.5% RS) but it has lovely fruit and a nice balance of tannin and acidity. 87/100

Kyperounda Commanderia 2006
Powerful aromas of coconut and coffee with a lovely liquified marmalade and toffee palate. Delicious and silky, lovely length and finesse. 91/100

x to return to our major feature on Cyprus

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *