We headed to Cyprus for half-term, and I spent a day with my brother - who lives there and has virtually zero interest in wine, let alone Cypriot wine - driving along one of the seven wine routes.
He wanted to do Route 4 which starts two minutes drive from his house, but I had my eye on some of the wineries that had already been mentioned on this community thread (and this one) , so I pushed for Route 2, which takes you from sea level just before Paphos, up through winding roads to Pano Panagia at >1100m in the mountains, before looping back around.
I didn’t realise, but high season starts first week of June, so not everything was open yet (29th May) and we didn’t take in every vineyard and winery; we were slightly winging it with a download from Google maps acting as our guide, but I had an outline plan and wanted to visit: Kalamos, Avacas, Kolios, Makkas, Chrysorrogiatissa (Chrysorogia), Vouni Panayia and Ezousa, doing the route back to front.
A 30 minute drive towards Paphos along the A6 motorway before we turned off onto one of the minor roads (E606), and within 10 minutes we were at Amergeti, and pulling into Kalamos:
I tried their Maratheftiko, Merlot and Xinisteri, before buying a bottle each of the two reds, for €19. Both were consumed over the next couple of days with barbecues and were excellent. I find that Maratheftiko can have a sharp odour which belies the softness and depth of the fruit once it’s in your mouth, and the Kalamos Gerani was a blend of 90% Maratheftiko with 10% Ofthalmo which made it deliciously palatable.
Next stop was meant to be Avacas, another 10 minutes up the E606, but it was deserted, so we pushed on up the hill and around a bend to reach Kolios Winery (E703), which looks as though it’s had some serious investment, and must be seething with tourists during peak season even if they charge €5 per person to taste.
Marios Kolios took us through to the tasting area - which provides fantastic views over Statos - laying out and describing several wines with no fuss, before quietly disappearing into the background.
The only wine not available for tasting was the 2012 Shiraz, limited to production of 3,000 bottles. I bought one for €15.
Again, drunk over the next couple of days, and whilst pleasant enough, didn’t impress as much as any of the other bottles consumed whilst on the island, including the €5 2014 Kolios Status 99 also purchased. Prebooking is required for the restaurant (which we had not done), and by this time we were starting to hanker for food, so we jumped back into the car and carried on.
In our haste, we missed Chrysorogia - and in hindsight discovered that visits are arranged by prior request, so no love lost - instead heading straight on to the next impressive looking facility, that of Vouni Panayia.
Here we were greeted by one of the sons of the owners, Petros, who engaged us in lively conversation and walked us through a number of their varietals, including whites: Spourtiko, Promara, and reds: Plakota (blend), Barba Yiannis (Maratheftiko), and Yiannoudi. I left with a bottle each of the Yiannoudi and Promara, just for something different (they weren’t more than €25 together, although can’t remember precisely).
Petros also told us about some of their quirky labelled experimental varietals - which I’ve subsequently found out more on from a 2017 Jancis Robinson post - and these will apparently be available “soon” through their UK distributors Cava Spiliadis.
Unfortunately the Vouni Panayia restaurant wasn’t opening until 1st June, but Petros recommended a place 20 minute’s drive away, in addition to another boutique winery for our itinerary. He also informed us, regrettably, that Ezousa winery no longer accepts casual visitors… apparently due to an exclusive agreement with their distributors.
After a quick lunch in Letymbou (E702), we sought out the the Makarounas Winery recommended by Petros. Here we were greeted by Theodoros Makarounas, fourth generation winemaker/owner, who set the boutique up in 2016 after studying Oenology and Viticulture at UC Davis in California. He’s obviously still hungry for wine knowledge, having also completed WSET 3 (his well thumbed course materials were on a shelf behind the tasting bar) and talking about starting the diploma next. He takes pride in producing terroir driven wines solely from his own grapes, a characteristic unique to this winery in Cyprus, but which limits production currently.
Theodoros’ Maratheftiko (€15) was the most complex and aromatic of the variety I think I tasted, with a pleasant medicinal quality rather than the more common sharp ketone whiff, a conscious effort not to overextract the fruit, and he also shared his En Archi, a gorgeous blend of Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. Seeing my reaction to it, this was the only wine my brother tasted all day grabbing two bottles (€7 ea). Two whites tasted were Aerides (Xynisteri and Chardonnay) and the slightly more distinctive Morokanella (€12), aged in 500L acacia barrels.
When asked what plans Makarounas might have for expansion, Theodoros confided that he’d just returned from the London Wine Fair but was still waiting for any follow-up from the contacts he’d made. And, when I commented that I didn’t think TWS carry any Cypriot wine, and that I’ve had the privilege of being invited to the press tasting on 10th June, he didn’t even blink before handing me a bottle of the Aerides and asking me the convey it to someone at TWS. So, @Ewan , you’ll have to let me know who I should pass that on to! He gave my brother one for good measure too…
Our final stop of the day was an industrial warehouse on the outskirts of Paphos, in the village of Mesogi, to visit Fikardos. Technically this is Route 1, but the two routes overlap slightly on the B7, so not out of our way. I’ll acknowledge that I was flagging by the time we parked at Fikardos, but I gritted my teeth and strode on in. There was tasting underway already, but Fikardos Fikardos, eldest son of the eponymous owner Theodoros, didn’t break stride and warmly hustled me in. Again, I tried a number of wines (four for €2.50) before settling on a bottle to go, this time a Xynisteri (€7)
Fikardos seems to be cut from the same cloth as his contemporaries, Petros at Vouni Panayia, and Theodoros at Makarouna’s, with the same energy and drive. This is a (mostly fourth) generation of young winemakers whose enthusiasm and passion for innovation and progress is infectious. They also make some mighty tasty wines!