Karavitakis Estate Elia Vidiano 2017
Is Vidiano about to dethrone king Assyrtiko?
The view from the Aghia Irene vineyard over looking the western Cretan sea is commanding. The vista is only one detail of natures broader picture in what happens after dusk influencing the meso climate. This maritime mass acts as a source of cooling ambient temperatures. In day time these schist terraces are warmed until the early afternoon when the winds start to blow. After dusk temperatures drop further. In short the sea is an important factor in the balance for this remote vineyard with a ‘window’ on the Aegean. It is planted with Muscat Spinas, Mandilari and Mavrotragano. Not far from this Karavitakis estate lies the reviewed single vineyard Elia Vidiano originating from 14 year old vines perched also on a hillside. As it stole the show during my visit I will come back to this find. This second generation winery has moved in higher gear since Nikos Karavitakis has built on the foundations laid by his father. Here are several head turning actions worth looking out for. The more obvious is the attention to red wine tannin management. He follows in the footsteps of Xinomavro champion Apostolos Thymiopoulos. His best selling red is The Little Prince. It is not oaked and shows the way forward with 65% Kotsifali and 35% Mandilari. The aromatics and juicy character with a sweet fruit Pinot noir like comes from former and the latter adds spine with it’s attractive gentle tannic bite. This address is one of the several new generation producers such as Diamantakis above Iraklio moving the islands red wines closer to its numerous excellent white wines. There are other labels in the Karavitakis porftolio which I will return in a future blog like the latitude defying crisp dry Muscat including heroic viticulture centenary vines.
This on form address has a lot going for it. Location and know-how has imbued vivacity into all of the wines. If it is blends from warmer areas, obscure name places or estate grown grapes there is a signature, a pretty one, too. The Elia Vidiano is individualistic as they come. It is all about minerality with a kiss of oak. Partial oaking is seamless and the most new world like dry wine from this star grape on the scene. It has the gravitas of Santorini minus the freakish low pH and angularity. It is polished with a deep apricot toned aromatic spectrum twinned with a wet stone core. It manages to deliver in the same breath a deeply satisfying serious expression. Yes, it can challenge the wines of the mother of all Greek terroir’s from the volcanic island with the sugar cube architecture. To boot it is more digest and better value. Is Vidiano about to dethrone king Assyrtiko?
Diam 5 closure. Faint carbonic gas prickle which dissipates. Bright yellow. Initially closed. Pit stone fruit with a creamy yeasty perfumed expression. As it opens lemon zest comes through on a buttery template. Aereating it in the glass: harmonious aromatics, good balance of pithy varietal character and restrained cask induced richness.Vanilla and flowers on the richly flavoured saline aftertaste. Roundness with out being blowsy. Thoughtful approach with partial oaking – not lacking in character. Less alcohol and less cask driven spicy sweetness than the Douloufakis Aspros Lagos, a benchmark in this style. Best 2019-2023.