Melissaki Gero-deti 2019 – 17,5 points
Although this is a relatively recent addition to the Lyrarakis range, and another variety they have rescued, this is one of my favourites. Medium gold colour. I find the aroma intoxicating, making me think of burnished gold and dried apricots though there is also something more like Lapsang Souchong tea, an aroma I associate with skin contact. That smoky character on the palate too. The skin contact structures the wine here and the acidity is fresh but not dominant. As befits a variety of this name, there is a honeyed note, plus something smoky. A complex ‘orange wine’ that avoids excess but has terrific intensity and complexity. A great advert for skin-contact wine and the style really seems to suit the variety. (JH)
Vidiano Ippodromos 2019 – 17 points
Complex aroma that is lightly spiced and smoky but has plenty of fruit: pear especially. The oak is very well done, just right, adding a creamy mealy texture and a light spice flavour. Rich and deep but still so fresh. Creamy peach flavours lead up to a spicy finish. Lovely wine. (JH)
Thrapsathiri Armi 2019 – 17 points
There’s a definite impression of spicy oak on the nose but it doesn’t overwhelm the citrus and stone fruit. Quite oaky on the palate and needs time for the oak to recede, though there is a very nice touch of orange on the palate. Firm, chewy and classy, the oak the the fruit in harmony for the longer term. Powerful, deep but fresh. Long and satisfying. (JH)
Assyrtiko Voila 2019 – 16,5 points
There’s definitely the stony/steely/dusty character of this variety but also a marked note of pure citrus, even a dash of lime and spice. Power and drive on the palate, tension and excellent freshness. Shows that you can make very good Assyrtiko on Crete not just on Santorini. Salty and mouth-watering on the long finish. Bone dry and perfectly balanced with good length. (JH)
Attractive new black-and-white line-drawing label. Much more herbal than I expected, though there is also more fruit compared with the Dafni. Very crisp-smelling citrus, hint of pear-drop, just-ripe apricot (though without its sweetness), but more tangy apricot on the palate. Tight and zesty but with plenty of fruit weight on the mid palate. I am not sure where this sits in the Lyrarakis range but I think it should be GV. There’s a minerally spice on the aftertaste to add another layer of interest. Long, too.
Dafni Psarades 2019 – 16,5 points
Intense aroma of bayleaf and rosemary, dramatically herbal without being green or unripe. The small percentage that had skin contact has given this a brilliantly judged texture, just a very slight grip, so it is not just about the aromatics. Moderate acidity, but freshened by that grip and the low pH. Wonderfully aromatic and so true to the variety, without being a caricature. (JH)
Plyto Psarades 2019 – 16,5 points
This has some of the herbal character of the Dafni, and lifted aromas, but also more fruit on the nose and a more complex intensity. Slightly peachy but mostly herbal citrus and a stony/mineral undertow. Fuller bodied than the Dafni, with some weight and body from the higher alcohol and fruit depth. This doesn’t seem to have the small oak-fermented component of the 2018. Firm, deep and long. A fresh, distinctive white with quite full body and an attractive herbal/sour freshness on the finish. Impressive persistence and purity, as with all the Lyrarakis whites. (JH)
Lyrarakis White 2019 – 16 points
Deliciously scented and certainly has some Muscat aromas but it is as much citrusy as grapey, as well as hints of ripe yellow plums. More grapey on the palate, some floral notes that are really quite perfumed, in the rose/jasmine spectrum. But there is also a slight stoniness that gives it more elegance. Dry but scented in the mouth. A perfect summer aperitif. Lively acidity gives it shape and a clean-cut freshness on the finish. (JH)
Vilana PGI 2019 – 16 points
Delicately scented with fresh citrus and white blossom, some tart green fruits, beautifully fresh – all you can smell is the fruit purity and the varietal character. Dry, scented on the palate. Fruit freshness, with delicacy but no lack of flavour and scent. Simple but well executed. (JH)
Liatiko Kedros 2019 – 17 points
Pale orangey gold. Rose-hip and Victoria (orange) plum fruit with a touch of dusty-stone minerality. Beautifully dry and taut on the palate. Fresh and yet with fruit intensity and real depth and length. A serious rosé where the seriousness is purely from the quality of the fruit. Slightly chewy texture suggests this would be good with food but it is vibrant enough to be drunk on its own. (JH)
Mandilari Rose PGI 2019 – 16,5 points
Deep pink. The aroma is less lifted but deeper than on their Liatiko/Merlot rosé just tasted. More cranberry and cherry than strawberry. Bone dry but with some fruit sweetness to balance the crisp acidity. Juicy and intensely fresh with a light smokiness in the background. A great demonstration of Mandilaria in a rosé attire. Even with such modest alcohol, it has impressive depth and length, if not great complexity. Rounded in the mouth, purely by the fruit, it seems. No artifice. Drink with or without food. This might not be an obvious candidate for ageing but I would be interested to see how it develops in the bottle.
Lyrarakis Rose 2019 – 16 points
Pretty orangey pink. Fresh and peppery and lots of lively red fruits. Juicy, straightforward and fresh, with a hint of wild-strawberry sweetness. Bright-fruited and perfect for a sunny terrace – would be great without food but probably also quite versatile with food thanks to the combination of fresh acidity and fruit sweetness. The alcohol is balanced but gives it some weight and roundness in the mouth. (JH)
Liatiko Aggelis 2018 – 17++ points
Typically light and bricky ruby colour. Fabulous tangy aroma of tart red berries, sour cherry and hints of orange. This tastes as if it has higher acidity than the numbers indicate, it is concentrated, tense and super-zesty, with the roundness of fruit depth and alcohol. It’s a very distinctive wine, with some dried red fruits too. The tannins are tight and upright, and seem to accentuate the freshness. This is a wine that should have very long ageing capacity, if some of the mature Liatikos I have tasted are anything to go by. Definitely one of a kind. Terrific intensity and length. While it is clean and well made, it is absolutely the opposite of soulless ‘modern wine’. (JH)
Mandilari Plakoura 2017 – 16,5 points
Deep cherry red. Seductively sweet and aroma dark-red cherry fruit, ripe but doesn’t smell raisined even though there is s touch of dried cherry. Lightly floral as well as some sweet spice from the oak and from the fruit. There’s marked oak flavour on the palate but it’s the acidity that is so striking – bright, mouth-watering, almost tart but actually in balance with the fruit sweetness. An extreme wine that you could not ignore, packed with ripe fruit. Just a little warming on the finish. Tannins are lightly grainy, moderate but definite. I would want to drink this slightly cool with rich pork flavours, perhaps with a tangy cheddar? I think this will get really interesting with some time in the bottle. (JH)
Lyrarakis Red 2017 – 16 points
Deep cherry red. Spicy and peppery on the nose, with lots of attractive black fruit edged with something like rock dust (perhaps also a touch smokily reductive?), giving a very definite Syrah impression as well as the spice and more perfume of the Kotsifali. There’s a slight savoury meatiness too, not unlike smoked meat. On the palate, firmly structured and peppery with intense, ripe but fresh black fruit. I do feel a little of the alcoholic heat when the wine is at room temperature but there’s enough freshness to balance and it’s so full of fruit that you don’t really see the oak. Tasted lightly chilled, the alcohol becomes more harmonious and the freshness lovely. Chewy, firmly tannic and that savoury character on the finish. Needs food. (JH)
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