Amyndeo or Amyntaio (named after the grandfather of Alexander he Great) in the far north west of Greece, towards the border of Albania and the FYROM is around 700 meters above sea level, it lies on the far side of Mount Vermio, blocked off from the influence of the Aegean. These features of Amyndeon's setting cause the local climate to be entirely continental, though moderated somewhat by the influence of 4 lakes of which Lake Vegoritis is the biggest and set the Xinomavro vintage for red wine back to mid-oktober.

Amyndeo has the coolest climate of all the wine producing regions of Greece. Soil tends to be a sandy clay around Xinonero, on the slopes west of Amydeon, and a sandy loam around Ayios Panteleimonas, on the plain area just west of lake Petron. With considerable variation in calcium content from vineyard to vineyard.

Especially interesting for the sparkling wines from Karanika is the sandy lime soil in the old ‘ampelotopi’ area in Levea, just above where the winery is situated and where we have planted 7 hectares of xinomavro and Assyrtiko. This white soil with a lower layer of marl has a particularly high Calcium content, comparable to the Champagne soil, which results in exiting pH values (=low!) for the grapes. In order to understand the different terroirs in the Appellation, domaine Karanika is experimenting with grapes from the 7 different villages in the Appellation: Amyndeo, Agios Panteleimonas, Petres, XinoNero, Levea, Pedino and Aetos.

The old organic vineyards

Certified organic since 2009, the soils in themselves vary from alluvial, sandy loam, sandy clay to sandy lime soil rich in calcium with subsoil of marl and limestone. Area A is where the winery is, but it has 2 completely different soils. Around the winery on what once was the shore of lake vegoritis, one finds heavy alluvial soils where we have planted 1 hectare of the almost extinct variety Limniona (2006) and 1 hectare the first plantings of Assyrtiko (2006). These vineyards are the first that are cultivated with Fanouri and Ginger, because the stables are right next to the vineyard. No tractor is allowed. Because of the heavy alluvial soil the Assyrtiko gives round and fat base wines. 100 meters further up is the old vineyard area of the village Levea, or Λεβαια, which once was the capital of one of the Macedonian kingdoms during the reign of Philips II, the father of Alexander the Great. It is therefore called Ampelotopia. The soil is very rich in Calcium content, because of the lime and marge subsoil. It is very similar to the soil of Champagne. Here, 8 hectares of Assyrtiko and Xinomavro specially for the sparkling wines are planted. The first results of wines from these vineyards are very promising because of their bone dry razor sharp minerality and very low pH. The plan is to plant more vineyards in this area.

Area B is 2 sub areas called Rasto and Sotirtsko, the original Slavic names of the area, when Amyntaio was called Sorowits. It is the location of the old vineyards of Domaine Karanika. The Sotirtsko vineyard was planted in 2012. And gives incredible length and botanic character to the Red Xinomavro Old Vines. This wine is blended with the vineyards from the Rasto area that are a bit younger. Planted in the 1960’s and 70’s. Because of our low intervention and almost zero Nitrogen diet of the vineyards the yield has gone down in a natural way, without the need of the destructive green harvest, and the tiny xinomavro grapes give much concentration to the wine. All in all the production is very limited. From 2 hectare the production is 5000 bottles. All of our vineyards in this area are ungrafted.

Area C is called Bella Tumba, or white hill. It is because of the more Lime and Calcium content. The soil is also lighter because of its sandy character. The vineyards in this area are also ungrafted. Because of this most of these grapes are destined to be vinified for the Extra Cuvee de Reserve, the zero dosage sparkling wine that ages 5 years on the lie, and is characterized by a higher than usual acidity and minerality.

Area D is closer to lake Petron. Just below the train track that connected Monastir to Thessaloniki and which was the life line that brought great economic activity to the Amyndeo area more than a century ago. The different subareas bear beautiful names like Nivigratsko, Sioska and Bara. The area is not so suitable for red wine, because of the close proximity to the lake. However in very dry summers the lake prevents the vines from drying out. The grapes from this sandy soil are excellent for the higher quality rose sparking wines. They combine fruity character with high acidity and minerality.

Area E. Literally on the shores of lake Petron are the vineyards that were once considered lowest quality of the Amyndeo appellation. Wrongly in our opinion. The vineyards had traditionally high yields, but were very susceptible to Oidium, Peronosporos and Botritis. Because of the humidity. However with careful vineyard management, i.e. leaf removal, higher canopy, less fertilizer, cover crops etc etc, the Karanika team managed to harvest wonderful clean grapes in both wet years and the driest of the years. The grapes are excellent material for the Blanc de Noirs, the karanika Cuvee Speciale, because of the refreshing acidity, the juicy and flowery character and the lack of color in the grapes.

Area F. Further up North on the South facing hill are the vineyards of the village Petres. Area They are the warmest of the area, however because of the higher yields of the vineyards the grapes are just not quite suitable for the Karanika red wine. In our experience it takes more then 10 years for the traditional vineyards to lower the yields by way of withholding Nitrogen. However they are excellent grapes for the Cuvee Speciale and the Cuvee Rose.

Area G is where the coldest of all vineyard are situated. Around the village of Pedino. Here Xinomavro really struggles to ripen. However, xinomavro has the amazing capacity to give warm and ripe aromas even when not fully phenolically ripe at around 9 baume (1066 Specific Gravity, or 16-17 Brix). And because of the prolonged aging on the lee in the bottle, that comes with the traditional method, the edges of the wine are softened. It is from these vineyards that the foundation of the Cuvee Speciale and the Cuvee Rose is laid. A foundation based on the tannin structure and the acidity. The backbone of the wines, if you want.

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