(2020) From Heraklion on the island of Crete, this is 100% Liatiko, the local speciality red variety, aged 12 months in larger French oak barrels. Medium-pale ruby in colour it has a beguiling nose, crammed with small red fruits but with a mellow autumnal depth of dried leaves, into tobacco and coffee. On the palate a rush of sweet and ripe fruit, especially raspberry and redcurrant, but that mellow coffee character is there and balanced by a fine, sandy tannic grounding, good acids and a long, savoury and spice-fruity finish.
(2018) Lyrarakis is arguably the best producer on the island of Crete, and champion of the indigenous grape variety Plyto. It's another crystalline, delicate white, a style that Greece can do so well in places like Santorini, floral-touched apple fruit, apple blossom perhaps, with an intriguing aromatic spiciness too. In the mouth it has quite a full, slippery textrue, a background of river stone minerality and plenty of fresh orchard fruits that are dry and savoury, an apple-core acidity to finish. Most certainly a fish (oily fish or firm white fish) or seafood banker.
(2015) From one of my favourite Cretan producers (reviewed in-depth in 2012) this is a subtle but absolutely ravishing little wine that perfectly sums up the Lyrarakis family's obsession with celebrating local varieties, in this case the grape 'Dafni'. Pure and gentle on the nose there are delicate aromas of bay leaf and blossom, a subtle grapefruit peel note and hints of mint and sherbet. In the mouth it is bone dry, but it is textured too, with a great shock of citrus and cool apple and salt acidity.
(2012) Symbolo (or ideogram 131 if you prefer, the symbol on the label signifies the concept of wine in two ancient scripts: Linear B and Cretan Hieroglyphic) is an unspecified blend made from tiny quantities of specially selected grapes, aged for 15 months in oak casks. It is the only release from Lyrarakis of this wine so far and they say "who knows," when the next one will be released: they await the perfect vintage. Dense in colour it really does have a beautiful nose, layered with graphite, pepper and hinting at something floral, with a deep pool of black fruit beneath. On the palate it has lovely balance. There's a core of creamy black fruit running through this, but complex layers of game, minerals and tobacco-like spice are there too, along with firm, grippy tannins and a rasp of acidity. Despite a modest 13% alcohol it is powerful, heady stuff that Lyrarakis thinks will age elegantly.
(2012) An aromatic blend of Muscat, Vilana and Sauvignon Blanc, from higher altitude vineyards with a northern exposition to attain the coolest conditions. The Muscat dominates with its top notes of flowers, geranium leaf and gentle herbaceousness, beneath lies some cool white fruit. In the mouth it's a striking, modern wine, the Muscat again making its presence felt with lots of crunch and citrus, super crisp and dashing stuff with the finish clean as a whistle. Another seafood banker.
(2012) Plyto is a Cretan variety that was at one time the best-known grape of the island, though its plantings have been in steep decline. Family vine-grower Manolis Lyrarakis has preserved and nurtured the variety quite extensively on the family estate. Fine, if slightly generic nose with lemon and a touch of pear and apple fruit, but clean and inviting. Very dry on the palate, underripe apple and lemon dominate here too, but it is very nicely pitched, with some weight on the mid-palate and the cool, clear core of pithy acidity pushing the finish along.
(2012) No oak here ('inox' means stainless steel tanks were used), in a pale-coloured wine with that lovely Assyrtiko fusion of leafy herbs, crunchy apple and salty minerals. It is very expressive and inviting, and on the delivers a lovely mouthful too: it has some weight, spice and texture despite its clarity, a broad pear and apple juicy fruit sweetness being overtaken by citrus-fresh, lemon peel acidity into the finish. Delightful fish and seafood-friendly stuff, would be great with some salt and pepper squid maybe.
(2012) Armi, meaning top of a mountainside in a Cretan, is the 500 metres altitude location for this vineyard. From rocky soils and with a windy exposition, this cool site is said to suit the aromatic Thrapsathiri variety. It has a very appealing nose, with ripe melon and orchard fruits, perhaps a little more character than the Plyto, with a touch of oatmeal too. On the palate it is ripe and round, with a bit of texture giving it lovely mouthfeel, and quite fat lemony and bright apple fruit to the fore. Acidity is good, and this has concentration and a bit of spicy substance.
(2012) Barrel-fermented and made from the indigenous Vidiano, this comes from an unirrigated, low-yielding vineyard at an altitude of 610 metres. Pouring a pale yellow colour, this offers aromas of gentle nuttiness and apple fruit, but it is all fairly discreet and low key. On the palate there's a really pleasing sweetness and ripeness to the fruit; the juicy apple is there, but it hints at more tropical tones before some of that gently toasty oak influence adds weight and spiciness. The acid comes through too, cutting the concentrated fruit in a very intense wine that is in some ways Burgundian. Concentrated and impressive.
(2012) There's no information on the Lyrarakis web site and this label is only in Greek, apart from the legend "Wine from old white vine trees," so I am guessing this is some of the older indigenous grapes grown in the region of Fourfouras village. It has a deep colour, quite a buttercup yellow, with attractively earthy, gently oxidised aromas. I wonder if this has been made in a traditional, oxidative way. It is buttery and appealing, and onto the palate it has honey and vanilla, a buttery richness and some very sweet fruit, with a big core of intense citrus acidity. Lovely and traditional stuff, that's out of sync with crunchily reductive styles, but I thought it had bags of flavour and personality reminding me of some wines I've tasted in Cyprus and Georgia of this style.