Friday The 15th of September 2017 saw some of Cyprus’s finest wines presented during a special Cyprus Wine tasting evening which took place on the premises of The Greek Embassy in New Delhi.
In his welcome address to the audience, His Excellency Mr. Demetrios A. Theophylactou, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to India extended a warm welcome to a select group of guests and thanked the Greek Ambassador for kindly offering the venue.
Nine wines plus a Grappa were presented for this tasting. The wines for the evening were provided by Kyperounta Winery, Vasilikon and Ayia Mavri Wineries. Sodap Ltd offered the Commandaria and the Zivania (the Grappa).
Although Indians are not very familiar with Cypriot wines, Cyprus has some of the oldest wine making traditions in the world. Indeed, it is believed that wines have been made in Cyprus for 6000 years.
Some of the wines at the tasting were made from well known grapes such as Cabernet Franc, and some were made from grapes native to Cyprus such as the Xynisteri and Mavron grapes.
Coming to the pairing for these wines, the best way to pair a wine is to pair it with food from the area local to the grapes. As these were Cypriot wines, they were paired with Cypriot delicacies. These accompaniments included halloumi cheese by Charalambides and Christies, nuts and brittles by Serrano by Neophytou Trading co, and of course olives and extra virgin olive oil by Trifillaris Olivita from Cyprus. Aphrodite Delights provided some of the famous Cypriot delights.
My favourite pairings for the evening included the Vasilikon winery’s 2016 vintage Xynisteri white wine paired either with the halloumi cheese, or with the exquisite extra virgin olive oil and bread. Olive oil, like wine has a slightly different flavour depending on where it’s from. The extra virgin olive oil from Trifillaris Olivita, Cyprus had a pleasantly sharp flavor which was balanced by the fresh bread. If you would like to try this wine with Indian food, I would recommend something like beans podiyal with appams.
Next came the Rosé wine for the evening. Made from Cabernet Franc, this wine, a product of the Cypriot terroir combined with a standard Cabernet Franc grape resulted in an unusual wine- one with an aroma of honey and strawberries! I would personally recommend this wine with two options- for those who like something sweet, I would recommend one of the Cypriot Delights -Shoushouko. Shoushouko is made from the grape must and can be made from red wine grapes or white wine grapes, and has nuts in the center. It is meant to be a sweet, high energy food, that is good for the winter months. For those who like something savory, I would recommend the Cypriot Olives.
Finally- the grand finale! The Commandaria St Barnabas.
H.E. Mr Theophylactou referred to Commandaria (the special dessert wine made from both Xynisteri and Mavron grapes) as the oldest wine in the world, and it is known to have been served at the 12th century wedding of King Richard the Lionheart to Berengaria of Navarre in the town of Limassol. This amber coloured fortified wine is a feast for the senses. Indeed, King Richard the Lionheart is believed to have called this wine the “Wine of Kings and the King of wines”. It has strong aromas of oak infused Vanilla, honey, dried herbs, and some spice (cinnamon?). Best had as a dessert wine, this wine is best by itself, savoured at the end of a really good meal.
The wine tasting evening was greatly enjoyed by the guests. Having tasted such wonderful wines and excellent accompaniments, it is my hope that these wines that are relatively new to the Indian market will become more widely available in the future for the discerning Indian wine consumer.