Vlassides Winery visit
Last week we were lucky enough to get an exclusive tour and tasting with the owner of Vlassides Winery. Although the winery was closed, we were granted access thanks to a mutual friend (and wine-buff) who knows the owner well.
 
View from the Vlassides Winery 
 
Sophocles Vlassides started making wine in his grandfather's back room and now the winery makes over 120,000 bottles a year. He studied in California and has integrated many techniques into Cyprus wines which are uncommon in the rest of the island. One of the most striking is the use of cane vine training rather than the traditional bush vines.
 
Sophocles Vlassides tasting wine 
 
In the main, the vineyards that Vlassides owns grow Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. We tasted a couple of these - including a very interesting 'aged' Sauvignon Blanc which was very different to the young variety we compared it with - but both delicious.
 
We then got to taste his 'Private Collection' range, soon to be rebranded 'Opus Artis'. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Each grape-type is matured in new French oak barrels and then blended in November of the same year - the proportions dependent on the preceding harvest. The blend is then matured in barrels again and kept in bottles for a minimum of two years. We tasted the 2011 which is ready to drink, but should be ideally kept for another 5 years. We found it complex and rich - and definitely one to cellar and enjoy in a few years time.
 
Sophocles Vlassides 
 
For our final tasting, we were allowed a real treat. As well as growing the grapes named above, Sophocles is experimenting with some of the traditional Cypriot grapes - some of which were nearly allowed to become extinct. These include Maratheftiko, Yiannoudi, Promara and Morokanella. Every year they will try a new batch, with new techniques and slowly integrate these wines into their other offerings.
 
Of course this is music to Decanting Club's ears. We were extremely honoured to be allowed to try a bottle of Yiannoudi, which means 'Little John' in Greek. When this grape was (re)discovered it had no name, so it was named after the owner of the field in which it was found. Although the wine had only recently been bottled, so was far too young, it was delicious and had many layers of complexity - including a vanilla taste on the finish which makes it have a hint of oak, even though it had been nowhere near a barrel!
 
 Unlabelled Vlassides Yiannoudi wine 2016
 
It's very frustrating that it will be many years before this wine is available to buy, but we loved trying it and will be first in line when they are finally able to bring it to market.
 
Many thanks Sophocles, we hope to visit again soon..... 

Paul


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