(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) This 50cl of non-vintage sweet wine comes in a tall elegant bottle, and whilst the name suggests otherwise, it is apparently a blend of Plyto, Dafni, Vidiano and Vilana grapes, dried in the sun for nine days and aged for one year in new oak barrels. The colour is a deep, burnished gold and the nose is an intriguing amalgam of glycerine and herbs, with fat lemony fruit and edges of caramelised orange or apricot. On the palate that honey and glycerine character is there, and this does have a mellow, rich fruitiness, but it is medium-bodied rather than heavy, and the clarity of the citrus fruit and acidity is good. More honey and a touch of buttered toast fill out the finish, but the low alcohol (11.5% ABV) and core of acid keep it fresh.
(2012) The grapes are not specified, but the red in this range is made from Kotsifali, Mandilari and Syrah, so I would guess this may be the same. It has a very dark colour, more of a light red, and a vinous nose showing cherry and some leafy, savoury notes. On the palate it is a very well-balanced wine, with a solidity to the berry fruit and gentle tannins and spice playing against good acidity.
(2012) A blend of the indigenous Kotsifali and Mandilari varieties with Syrah, all grown in higher altitude vineyards with a northern exposure. The colour is a bold crimson, and the nose is very inviting, showing creaminess and a touch of vanilla, but also a smooth, juicy-ripe black fruit. There's a little hint of spice too. On the palate this has a bit of grip, with good acidity and tight tannins, the fruit blackcurranty, but with a sinewy, chewy density. Staying linear and focused, this finishes with a gravelly substance that would match some grilled meat well.
(2012) Around 70% of the blend is Syrah in this wine, a bronze medal winner in the 2011 Decanter awards. A rich ruby colour showing a hint of warmth, this has a deliciously spicy and peppery nose that is very Syrah, with gamy edges and a touch of underlying vanilla. On the palate it is very nicely pitched, the black and juicier, red berry fruit to the fore and plenty of dry extract giving a mouth-coating character in the finish, though the sweetness of the fruit persists.
(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.