FEELING LIKE AN OLYMPIAN GOD? #RAPSANI EFFECT
During ProWein 2014, quite a big amount of #winelover community members gathered at the Tsantali stand for a unique tasting of 20 years of RAPSANI wine.
Luiz Alberto did his very best to get a big and representative bunch of ‘his’ #winelover community members, but more people came at the last moment than was expected.
No problem for Tsantali area marketing and export manager Christos Bitzios, there was enough wine for all of us. The room on the stand was not exactly calculated for the big affluence, but it didn’t affect our pleasure.
The whole tasting was guided and commented by our friend, colleague and fellow #winelover Ted Lelekas, Greek wine & food expert and … lover!
Rapsani is the name of the village in the middle of the vineyards where the wine comes from, on the slopes of the Olympus Mountain, home of the Greek mythological gods. The landscape is fabulous and the breathtaking view from the vineyards is a testimony of the timeless beauty of the region. According to the old Greek mythology, Rapsani wine was the ‘nectar of the Gods’ and the village has always been a natural place to worship those gods. The quality of Rapsani wines has been recognized since the antiquity. In 1932, Rapsani became officially an appellation wine and in 1971 one of the first to get a Greek PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).
Ted Lelekas: Rapsani is the nectar of the gods from the Olympus Mountain
100 hectares of vineyards, from 250 up to 700 meters above the (Aegean) sea level, are blessed by a unique microclimate, Mediterranean, of course, but with the cooling and protecting effect of the Olympus Mount. The melting ice water tempers the heat and drought of the summers and allows a slow and long growing season. The ‘terroir’ of Rapsani is as well a quality key factor: schist soils, rich in iron form a great drainage layer, keeping enough water reserves to avoid high water stress in the heat of the summer. Rapsani wines are produced from 3 grape varieties, planted and vinified together. The xinomavro gives a dark, deep red colour and a solid acid and tannic backbone, essential for a good ageing potential. The krassato and stavroto are only grown in Rapsani. The krassato enhances the aromatic range, gives milder acidity, high alcohol and soft fast-ripening tannins while the stavroto brings milder acidity, lighter colour, body and firm but also fast-ripening tannins.
All the wines we tasted (7 in total) were Rapsani Reserve wines, produced with a blend of the three grape varieties in a proportion of about 1/3 each. All wines underwent a minimum ageing of 12 months in oak barrels (50% new, 50% used) and 12 months in the bottle before release.
The common denominator for me in the whole tasting was the combination of stunning length, ripe fruit, spiciness and natural freshness.
2009: fresh, round, easy approachable, very juicy, spicy, balsamic, firm but ripe tannins. Already enjoyable but will age well.
2008: very fresh and juicy, good tannins, less ‘oaky’ on the palate.
2007: more roasted tones in the nose, good fruit, dark, nice freshness, some pleasant bitterness in the finish.
1998: 0.75 liter bottle … lovely vivid, spicy, juicy and round.
1998: 5 liter bottle (picture above) … fantastic wine, much more in balance, gorgeous, fresh and complex. The absolute winner for me!
1997: clear signs of evolution in colour, rind and nose (very balsamic). Much better on the palate, good structure, very fresh, nice bite, ripe fruit, liquorice, ripe tannins.
1994: even more signs of evolution in colour, with a brownish rind. Still alive but not really kicking anymore, soft in structure, a bit rustic, good tannins.
Conclusion: yes, indeed, Rapsani wines can age very well. However, I think that the ageing potential will depend on the vintage conditions but also on the canopy management, vinification and temperature control during the ageing period. I do believe that the next generations of Rapsani wines might get faster enjoyable but still will have a good longevity. It was a great pleasure and honour to be part of this remarkable tasting!
Σας ευχαριστούμε Ted Λέλεκας Χρήστος Μπίτζιος και Τσάνταλη για την υποδοχή και την γευσιγνωσία.