2018 Lyrarakis Mandilari, Plakoura Vineyard, Crete, Greece – RESTOCK

2018 Lyrarakis Mandilari, Plakoura Vineyard, Crete, Greece – RESTOCK



Well, we finally met Bart Lyrarakis and visited his family’s winery and vineyards on our trip to Crete a little less than a month ago now.  Remotely situated in the hills about 30 km south of Heraklion, which is the capital and fourth largest city in Greece, this region’s arid, sandy and stony landscape is blanketed with more olive trees than vineyards, but we found this true for most of the island.

But first if you are not familiar with our procurement of Lyrarakis Dafni (the Crete white grape that pairs with lamb!), then please take a moment to click on this link to review my newsletter from July 16th, 2021

All of Lyrarakis’ farming practices are organic and winemaking with minimal intervention.  Renee and I were almost finished sampling Lyrarakis’ entire portfolio when we came upon a brilliant, deeply colored, full-bodied red wine produced from the Mandilari variety.  Completely new to us, we immediately knew this was a unique wine we wanted to share with our friends and customers.  Fortunately, there was a container being prepared for shipment to the USA, and we managed to successfully secure a space for ten cases of the same current 2018 release we had just tried.  The wine has just arrived and will be stocked this Friday.  I invited you to come to the store to sample for yourself.  Trust me, more will be in the pipeline.  **See our tasting notes below.  Price?  Just $24.95 a bottle!!

A little more about Mandilari and this specific wine.  Mandilari is extremely challenging to produce as a singular varietal, because even though it is late ripening, the resulting wine rarely achieves 12% alcohol.  Huh?  How can it be full-bodied then?   Mandilari’s thick skin definitely imposes color and tannins that need to be managed.  Typically the grape requires blending with other red varieties; one usually being Kotsifali!  Kotsifali is a lighter colored, and less tannic grape, but provides similar flavor and sufficient balancing alcohol.  HOWEVER, the 2018 Lyrarakis Mandilari is unblended, and still posts an impressive 14.0% alcohol.

HOW?  Apparently Lyrarakis is well known for this late release, singular varietal Mandilari.  The tricks?  Yes, Lyrarakis’ Mandilari Plakoura Vineyard is dry farmed on a well-drained slope at 500 meters elevation.  The bush vines are head-train pruned, while the north-eastern exposure insures maximum hangtime and ripeness.  Green cluster harvest takes place in August to thin fruit.  Combined, the results are extremely low yielding harvests, which provides concentrated flavors and structure.  BUT there is MORE!!  Lyrarakis reserves a small portion of the ripe grapes to sun-dry for 3-4 days which when added to the must, improves the aromatics, but also concentrates the wine and provides the necessary alcohol boost.

After a temperature controlled fermentation with a selection of various yeasts, the wine is aged 14 months in an assortment of oak barrel (34% new, 35% re-used French oak, and 31% re-used American oak).

**Now, two bottles sampled.  The result is a very aromatic, spicy and balsamic-like nose of ripe dark cherry and black plum fruits mingled with an loamy minerality.  The palate impressions mirror the nose, and are mouth filling, rich, concentrated and intense.  The wine’s tannin is still youthful and firm, but undetering and carries into the extremely long finish.  Make no mistake, this is a meat eater’s dream, but non-carnivores are invited too!!  If you wish to drink now before the tannin has softened, then please pair with a ribeye, NY, or brisket (fatty meat)…..to help melt the tannins.  A tremendous value!  Age worthy too!  You MUST TRY!  $24.95 a bottle.