I was reminded of once in my childhood when I was sitting between my English Grandmother and my Greek Grandmother, translating between the two. English Gran said “It’s funny when you turn and talk in Greek to Yaya (Granny in Greek), you move your hands a lot. When you turn and speak in English to me your hands stay still on your lap.
Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day in Cyprus’ Troodos mountains. In England it might have been guessed to be the hottest day of summer rather than a spring day. A coachload of us had set off in the morning from Billy Steen’s bar in Protaras to visit the Constantinou winery in Peri Pedi near Limassol. (Thank you Billy for a great day).
Costas Constantinou, the owner, explained how when the grapes were harvested around mid-August they were first brought to a refrigerated container. Then in the cool of the night, quality control started at the selection machine. Before passing to a crusher that removed the stalks, the grapes passed along a short conveyor when any of inadequate quality were manually removed. The process that would have taken one and a half hours for a day’s harvest of 10,000 kilos to pass through the crusher took seven to ten hours.
He showed us the vat where most of the grape juice drained out naturally while a remaining 20-30% of grapes were put under a very light pressure, a process taking several days, still under controlled cold temperatures – all before yeast was added and fermentation commenced. He explained how wine-making followed basic guide lines not a constant recipe since the grapes themselves would vary from one year to the next and how results were monitored and decisions taken every step of the process.
We moved onto the bottling and storage rooms and saw how the bottles were kept upright for several days till the corks expanded to provide an effective seal. We learnt of batonnage, the process of stirring leys back into the wine.
It was chilly in there and we were quite glad to move on into the tasting room. It is always exciting to find something special in a wine and that was the case for me with the first Xinisteri we tried, the Ayioklima dry (translates literally as “saintly vine”). I like a wine that is both dry and aromatic as this was. I commented on this to Costas who pointed out the certificates for all the medals it had won.
I bought half a dozen bottles to take away with me and one of them is earmarked for drinking with my Sunday BBQ. Also a couple of bottles of their top of the range Shiraz, but this is very full-bodied and I will probably keep it for the winter to drink with some Stiffado or other beef stew.
There were a number of spittoons dotted around the tasting room. As we left for a Meze lunch nearby and a later stroll round the pretty village of Omodia, I noticed that all the spittoons were bone dry!
Wines and Tours has put together a luxury Wine and Golf package for Cyprus in November. Would there be interest I wondered for a week’s budget wine tour in Cyprus similar to our Portuguese budget tour?