What do a Customs officer, a lawyer, an airline pilot, an electricity board official, a police inspector and a former welder have in common?
The answer, of course, is that they are all wine-makers.
Members of a new "club" of small to medium producers who supplement the four huge Limassol wine-making plants, to enhance and broaden the range of table wines available in Cyprus.
The world of wine is as diverse as people themselves and Cyprus is no exception. Steeped in history, upon which it perhaps dwells too much, the Cyprus industry has long been a provider of large quantities of vinified and distilled products to countries as far apart as Japan and Sweden. As fashions have changed, so Cyprus has adapted its industry. In many ways the island is unusual.
The cursed Philloxera beetle, which, after arriving on vine samples shipped from the USA, decimated European vineyards in the 1860's and 1870's, has never reached here -- the only place in Europe it hasn't. This means that the indigenous vines grow undisturbed on their own rootstocks, often for a hundred or even a hundred and fifty years. The majority of vine varieties are old, too. The black unique-to-Cyprus "Mavro", makes up the bulk of most red wines, whilst the more pungent, higher acidity varieties like Maratheftiko and Ofthalmo have been re-discovered and encouraged, helping to make improvements and interesting reds. The Xynisteri is the main wine grape, which makes a fresh, light-tasting and pleasing white wine and the majority of whites are made mainly from it.
"Foreign" varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan Noir, Mataro, Chardonnay, even Semillon, have been successfully introduced in the past 20 years and are used for blending with Mavro or Xynisteri, as well as producing small quantities of "varietal" wines. Some of these clearly show their provenance, but in the main, if you drink Cyprus wine, you have the taste of Cyprus in your glass.
Get to know it and it will reward you. Unfortunately, Cyprus has been the victim of criticism by international wine writers. Yes, as with all countries, you can find wine here that is not very good. On the other hand, there is plenty that is and it is these wines we hope to help you find (if you haven't found them already!).
But first, a quick look at some positive developments. Cyprus has long had the problem of having wine-making plants a long way from the vineyards, meaning that all too often grapes have not arrived at the winery in the best condition. Apart from taking positive measures to speed up this process, the big companies KEO, ETKO, SODAP and LOEL) are making much of their premium quality wines near the grapes. ETKO have built a plant in the wine hills at Omodhos, with a million-bottle a year capacity, and KEO have bought the Laona winery at Arsos, with similar capability, and have spent millions of pounds on redeveloping and re-equipping wineries at Pera Pedi and Mallia, where they have also cleared and re-planted hundreds of hectares of vineyards.
Recent years have seen government encouragement of small companies to start regional wineries, bringing employment and income to the villages. There are around twenty of these, with capacities ranging from 10,000 to 100,000+ bottles a year. Several expect to be producing a quarter to half a million bottles in a few years. These developments are producing more diversified and characterful wines.
Of great help to vine growers and winemakers alike is the recently renamed Vines and Wines Institute of Limassol, founded in 1971 and run by highly qualified personnel, who among many advisory and practical activities make small quantities of wines from virtually every area and every grape variety grown in Cyprus. These show which varieties can make good everyday wines, as well as potentially great ones. According to some authorities, like Hugh Johnson, the great wine of Cyprus is the very sweet dessert wine "Commandaria", which is well worth exploring. But for me, and many others, "wine" means the lovely gold or ruby liquid that we drink before or during a meal. Today, there are plenty of good and very good wines to choose from. As yet there are no great ones; Cyprus still awaits it first internationally great winemaker, but from what I have seen and tasted, I believe that he or she will arrive on the scene in the not too distant future.
Cyprus is the ideal place for the growth of the vineyard, due to its warm, dry climate. The cultivation of the "ambeli" on the island began from the prehistoric period, just as it had been done in other Mediterranean countries of similar climatic conditions.
Initially, the vine was a self-reproducing plant, whilst in later periods, its systematic cultivation began. This conclusion can be drawn from the study done on fossilised grape seeds that were found in excavations.
The cultivation of vineyards took place on the whole of the island and mainly in the two mountainous areas of Troodos and Pentadactilos. Most philosophical sources mention more so the wine of Cyprus, rather than the vine.
Cyprus, in proportion to its size and population, holds the highest production rate of grapes in the world. Additionally, vineyards cover the largest percentage of the semi-mountainous and mountainous land of Cyprus, where it is not financially viable to cultivate anything else. The vine may thrive from sea level up to an altitude of 1,500 metres above the sea level.
The vine is a long-living, deciduous plant, which climbs, and due to this, supported at times in its life, helping it grow. The leaves are heart-shaped, and in periods of bloom, the buds are small and green. The fruit - the grapes, are sweet with 2 to 4 seeds, and colours ranging from deep red to yellow-green, depending on the type. Depending on the variety, the size of the grapes also changes. There are many criteria in which the variation of grapes may be divided, but the basic distinction is made according to use - whether they are used for the production of wine or not.
The vine is of the few plants in which its cultivation goes back to ancient times, and extends from China to Asia Minor. One of the most ancient countries of the vineyard is Egypt, were different seeds were found in many of the oldest tombs, one of which being Omari from 4,500 AD. Additionally, the vineyard is depicted in many coloured wall paintings on the inside of tombs in "Memphida" and in "Thibes". The vineyard is also mentioned in articles by the Hebrews in the Old Testament.
The vine is related to various myths of different civilisations, such as of the Persians, the Indians, the Armenians, etc. Each culture has helped in the advancements in the cultivation of the vine, as well as in the production of wine (which was equated to processing a godly gift). The Greeks had Dionysos, The Indians had God Soma, the Egyptians had Osiris, the Romans Baucus, and the Jews had Noah.
During the first Christian years, the cultivation of vineyards in Cyprus proved to be important. This confirmed by the fact that even traditional culture talks of it. According to this, when St.Lazarus, after his resurrection, and his persecution by the Jews for his miracles, arrived in Cyprus he came to shore somewhere in Larnaca. Tired and hungry, he asked an old lady, an owner of a vineyard, for some grapes. The old lady denied his request, informing Lazarus that all her vines had dried up. The saint was angry with the old lady's lies and ordered that from now on all her vines would wither and die, and a salt lake would appear in their place. The miracle, according to the legend, occurred, and the Salt Lake was formed.
In the House of Dionyssos in Kato Paphos, there exist famous multi-coloured mosaics that depict scenes of cultivation of the vineyards. In writings by St.Neophytos, who lived around the end of the 12th century, we are given worthwhile information about the vineyards of Cyprus.
Many foreign explorers mention the vineyards of Cyprus and talk especially of its exquisite wine. In 1844, the French ambassador to Cyprus, M.Fourcade, sent reports to the French government stating that the vineyards covered 21.3% of the island. Two-thirds of these were in the district of Limassol, while the remaining one third was in the districts of Paphos, Larnaca, Kyrenia and Famagusta.
Later, during the Turkish rule of 1868 - 1872, taxes were placed on the production of wine and other alcoholic drinks in Cyprus, and the vineyard cultivation received serious wounds. The hassle and exploitation the farmers experienced forced these people into a situation where the sight of the tax-man alone was enough for them to pour the wine on the ground. This was because the expense was much higher than the gains felt, taking into consideration all the effort of their labours.
In the following decades, the vineyard cultivation started to expand with a faster growth rate in other parts of the island, as well. This was contributed to mainly by the increasing demand for grapes from five new wine producing companies, which were founded in 1910 in the district of Pera Pedi, Mallia, and as well as in Limassol. The need for the formation of these companies lay in the sharp increase in demand for Cypriot wines abroad. During the last decades of the 19th century, the vineyards of Europe were destroyed by a virus of dry-leaf, whilst the Cypriot vineyards had not be harmed. The high prices that were offered for Cypriot wines also contributed to the expansion of cultivation of the ambelia. The new vineyards were planted with a local, dark type of grape, as this variety was more marketable.
During the period of the two World Wars, a further growth in the vineyard cultivation was noted, as the wine could be bottled and sold at a later time. After the end of the Second World War, however, the European wine producing countries regained their overseas markets once again, at about the same time that the new vineyards in Cyprus had started bearing fruit. This had, as an effect, the identification of various problems arising with the increase of the vineyard production. The problems escalated in 1949, which led to the foundation of Programme for the Vineyard products, with the aim of more effectively dealing with the problems.
With the passing of time, and with thanks to the development and expansion of existing, as well as new members of the wine producing industry, the exploration of new markets, and the increasing tourism, the wine producing industry will always remain as one of the most important sectors of the Cypriot economy.
The ambeli is for Cyprus, one of the most significant, large-scale cultivations of the island just as it has been over many centuries. The fruit of the ambeli - the grape, as well as its derivatives, has been and will continue to be a vital source of income for thousands of families in Cypriot villages. The principal produce of the grape in Cyprus includes different types and quality of wine; "zivania" - a very strong alcoholic aperitif; raisins; "shoushoukko"; "kkiofterkia"; "palouze"; and port.
From 1969, legislation was passed offering government subsidy on vineyard cultivations, with the objective to aid farmers and improve output. By 1971, a plan was laid down with the purpose of replacing older and non-productive vineyards with new ones.
Today in Cyprus many different vineyards are cultivated, the wine-producing kind as well as not, both local variations and new European families that have been imported over the last few years. Few of these variations are the dark, local type, "Palomino", "Malaga", "Soultanina", "Rozaki", "Veriko", etc.
It is probably true that there has been a commercial wine industry in Cyprus longer than anywhere else in the world. Whilst this may give rise to romantic promotional gambits like "Four thousand years of Tradition", it is no guarantee of good wine today. Thankfully, though, there is plenty of good wine to drink in Cyprus at the present time, but this is due to the skill of modern winemakers and their equipment rather than inherited traditions.
The wild vine from which our modern grape varieties descended (a very long time ago) undoubtedly grew in Cyprus and the bitter small fruits were probably collected and dried by man. The cultivation of vines for dessert fruit and wine is relatively recent. In fact, it seems that the grape was first brought near man's home and cultivated in the Black Sea area around 8,000 years ago. From there it spread slowly south-eastwards to Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, from whence it travelled across the Mediterranean to Greece, on to Italy, and so on.
There is much evidence to suggest that the country which had the greatest wine industry for the longest period was Syria, from around 3,000 BC or before, until about 1000 AD, when Islam held sway and banned the production of alcohol. It is known that in that early period, 5,000 years ago, Syrian farmers came to Cyprus and, although there is no evidence to prove it, I am personally convinced they would have brought their wine-producing grapes with them.
And so, when the Greeks and Romans came to Cyprus several millennia later, I think they would have found wine already here, but probably of a very different style to the wines, they were accustomed to.
Because of problems with sealing vessels to protect the wine from oxidisation from the air, most early wines would have been sweet and the tradition of such wines in Cyprus was born. Sweet wines not only oxidise more slowly, but they travel better than dry wines. So callers to the Cyprus of old would have stocked their boats with the sweet wines of Cyprus.
Not a lot of historical evidence exists to describe the wines of Cyprus between the Greco-Roman periods and the Middle Ages when Cyprus endured drought, pestilence and regular wars. In the 11th century, when the Crusades commenced, Cyprus wines became recorded and praised. The most noted proponent, at least insofar as the legend and wine promotion have it, was Richard the Lion Heart. From his sojourn here and those of the various Orders of Knights, came the generic description of the sweet wines of Cyprus: "Commandaria".
Commandaria, by law, today has certification of origin, which stipulates types of grapes, regions of production and methods. For such a delicious sweet wine it is a remarkable bargain.
As the centuries passed, writers, priests, explorers, soldiers and rulers praised the sweet wines of Cyprus, bought them, shipped them and drank them. Invasion followed invasion. Four hundred years of Lusignan rule, ending in 1489, was followed by the Venetians (1489-1571), who found the place bankrupt. The Ottomans invaded in 1571 and stayed until 1878 when they surrendered the island to Britain. In all this period there was not a lot done for the vine grower, especially under the Turks, who extracted iniquitous triple taxes from vine-growers and wine-makers.
Apart from taxes, one aspect of the Turkish period was that they allocated the better land to people of their faith, leaving the Cypriots of the Orthodox Church the higher, less fertile ground, whose only useful crop was the hardy vine.
The Middle Ages to the 19th. Century -- and the Foundations of the Modern Industry
During the Dark Ages, the Defenders of the Faith, the Monasteries, all over Europe were also "Defenders of the Grape", protecting the heritage if the vine left by the Roman Empire, and ensuring that the making of good wines, spirits and liqueurs carried on. There is no doubt that this tradition held true in Cyprus. There are records of a winery at Chrysorioyiatissa Monastery in the 18th Century and, no doubt, wines and liqueurs have been made elsewhere over the centuries.
But it is in the 19th Century that the foundations of the modern industry were laid. The House of Haggipavlu was founded in 1844 when the company made the purchase of a second sailing vessel, the "Saint Peter" to add to the first, the "Alexander" brought in 1825. These vessels took exports of wine in barrels all over the eastern Mediterranean.
By the early 1870's, it seemed that exports could rocket to colossal levels when the Phylloxera beetle struck and decimated every vine growing area in Europe except Cyprus. The French, and others, demanded thousands of barrels from Cyprus to meet the demand for wine and the Cypriots thought their bonanza days had come. But the French quickly passed laws restricting imports, to force the local industry to be re-built and Cyprus' boom time faded away.
In 1875 the British leased Cyprus from Turkey and it seemed better days would come. But there were still taxes and little investment for this small part of the Great British Empire. In 1889 the Cypriots sent a delegation to London to lobby for a reduction in import duties on Cyprus wines, but without success. But the local industry proceeded undeterred. In 1893, the Haggipavlu family, by then making spirits as well as wines, built the first modern winery in Sanaja in the Limassol district, with proper presses and fermentation tanks of stone.
Around the same time, an English family, the Chaplins, built a large wine-making plant at the village of Pera Pedi, just below Platres and starting making wine in fairly large quantities. Both these wineries would have made dry wines, from the local grapes, "Xynisteri" (white) and "Mavro" (red), which, as I suggested earlier, were from vines that had been in Cyprus for many hundreds if not thousands of years.
These were the years of the British Empire, with a strong presence in the Middle East, especially after World War I, from 1918 onwards. So the wine and spirits industry of Cyprus prospered, with exports to all the places where the British were present: Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, even to the Arabian Gulf, as well as to the French in Lebanon and Syria
The stage was set for expansion.
As the new century started (on January 1st 1901, in my opinion!) there were two up-to-date winemaking plants in Cyprus, the Chaplin family's at Per Pedhi and the Haggipavlu's at Sanaja, both in the Limassol district. However, Haggipavlu were developing a big distilling business, based on brandy and wine became rather secondary. But sales of products based on the grape grew steadily.
In 1927 a group of Cypriot business houses headed by Lanitis formed KEO, with the objective of expanding modern wine production and in 1928 they purchased the Chaplin family winery and shortly afterwards started the construction of a second at Mallia. As their wines came on to the market, a tacit agreement existed between KEO and Haggipavlu that one would concentrate on wine and the other on brandy. This came to an end in 1935 when KEO opened a brandy distillery in Limassol, and Haggipavlu countered by purchasing the largest privately owned winery in Limassol and developing it into ETKO.
The third of the "Big Four", LOEL was formed in 1943, through a breakaway of trades union members from ETKO, following a strike. This was, and is, a co-operative company run on socialist principles which was to develop a big business with the countries of the Communist block. The fourth company, SODAP (The Vine Products Co-operative Marketing Union Ltd.) is also a co-operative, founded in 1947 by the vine-growers themselves, to "protect the rights of the growers".
Despite World War II the Cyprus industry prospered. Although not a lot was done for it by the British, markets were available because of the British and French presence in the Middle East, which created a demand for wines and spirits produced in Cyprus. The development resulted from the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Cypriots running the Big Four. Good cheap brandy and other distilled products could always command a market, as could good grape juice, either in its natural form or fermented.
So the sales executives of KEO, ETKO, LOEL and SODAP began to travel the world looking for opportunities.
Fortified wine, that is to say wine strengthened and stabilised by the addition of brandy or other spirits, was already popular in Northern markets and the Cypriots had started making 'Cyprus Sherry' in 1937. But it was in the late 1940's that it really started to take off. Incredibly cheap, EMVA Cream and many other brands started sweeping into the UK market -- not yet the wine-loving one it is today, but one that consumed millions of gallons of "sticky" port or sherry, or imitations thereof, at Christmas and other celebratory times.
All over the world Cyprus sold its vine products; concentrated grape juice, pure alcohol for translation into vodka and other spirits, Sangria and other fruit juice laced wines, whilst developing its growing local market as the tourism industry began its upward surge.
For more than thirty years, the Cyprus wine industry was "The Big Four": KEO, ETKO, SODAP and LOEL, who produced very similar lines of wines, spirits, liqueurs and other by-products of grape juice. They were, and are, essentially businesses, whose function is the utilisation of a basic raw material (grape juice) to make commercially viable products to be sold around the world in one form or another. The object is to produce profits or dividends for the shareholders, whether they were family members, grape growers or investors large or small.
In the 1950's and 1960's the world was demanding low-priced products and Cyprus supplied them -- dry, medium and sweet "Cyprus Sherry", table wines sold in bulk to Britain (where it turned up in bottles with brand names like "Hirondelle") and other countries, by the million litres. Wine, or "Plonk" to give its vernacular title, was the party drink and you took as much as you could buy for a pound or two.
Then came "wine lakes" and the drive-by marketing men for "quality", wines bottled in the country of origin. Cyprus began to look at the nature of its industry, small labour-intensive hillside vineyards producing indigenous grape varieties that didn't match the demand for wines made from varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay; time and distance between the vines and the wineries which meant that grapes were "stale" by the time they got to the factory; and out of date marketing techniques.
In the early 1980's the Cyprus government, as part of its drive to create rural industries and away from he seaside tourist attractions, enabled small enterprises to apply for licences to operate wineries of 50,000 to 300,000 bottles a year capacity, in the hill villages of the grape growing regions. The first of these was at Chrysorioyiatissa Monastery in the Paphos District, whose Monte Roya winery was established with German technology and equipment, making a range of wines, of which the white, Ayios Andronicos is among the top five Cyprus white wines.
The late 1980's and early '90's saw a rush of small wineries starting up at Ayios Amvrosios, Kilani, Platres, Monagri, Arsos and other places in the Limassol district and at Kathikas and Vouni-Panayia near Paphos. The Ministry of Agriculture formed a special department in Limassol, with a fully equipped laboratory and a team of experienced specialists. There, wines were made from every grape variety and every region of Cyprus, experimental plantings were undertaken all over the country and training courses arranged for would be winemakers. Most of the small wineries owe a great debt to the unit's director, Dr. Rhumbas.
The result of this development has been the appearance on the local market of more than 100 red, white and rosé wines, some bad, some good and a few very good. The bad have largely vanished. What is remarkable is that in such a short time these intrepid young producers have started to make wines that are drinkable, enjoyable and getting better every year, with emerging and definite styles of their own.
Whilst this exciting development has been taking place the Big Four have also been very active. They have developed new vineyards of their own and through purchase they have planted hundreds of thousands of new vines of famous international varieties and re-discovered old Cyprus types. They have built new or restored wineries in the hills, as well as made valiant attempts to shorten the time between picking and pressing grapes in Limassol.
All this is good for the consumer. We have today a good range to choose from at prices that still represent very good value. Competition between the big boys and the smaller local producers, as well as from an ever growing range of imported wines from all over the world ensures this.
On the main Nicosia-Troodos road, 56 km from Nicosia and 56 km from Limassol (via Kato Amiantos and Saittas), the picturesque mountain villages of Galata and Kakopetria, situated in the Solea valley (or otherwise the apple valley), are popular hill resorts with a good range of hotels and restaurants, but also retaining much of the old folk architecture. Both villages are famous for their Byzantine churches. Other important villages, in the area are Evrikhou, Flassou and Korakou.
The area known as the ' Krassohoria' (the Wine Villages) is found on the south side of the Troodos range.
Old traditions are kept alive in these villages, where the cultivation of the vineyards and winemaking are still the main occupation of most of the inhabitants.
This is the area which produces the famous local red dry wine. Main villages in the area are Omodhos, Arsos, Pachna. The area is reached from the Limassol Paphos road, turning right after Erimi village or from Limassol-Platres road.
11 km south west of Platres. A wine producing village, once the property of Sir John de Brie, Prince of Galilee, with the Monastery of Stayros (Holy Cross), standing in the centre of the village. The monastery contains old icons, excellent wood carving and other ecclesiastical objects of interest, as well as a small National struggle museum.
An old House, with a wine-press known as Linos, is being restored and can also be visited. A wine festival is held in the village every August, and there is a large religious fair on 14 September.
4 km west of Platres. Famous for its pottery and as the birthplace of Archbishop Sophronios II. Visitors can see the Pilavakion private pottery collection.
1.5 km south-west of Perapedhi, off the Limassol-Troodos road. An attractive wine-producing village with the single-aisled vaulted church of Ayia Mavri, typical of 12th century architecture with murals of the late 15th century.
The Sterna Winery is situated between wine plantations at the road from Kathikas to Akordalia and wine has been produced here for over 3000 years.
The wine is slowly matured in the cool underground caves, aged more than 2000 years.
The winery is open to the public daily from 9:30 to 18:00. Wine tasting is free.
Here the sun is hot, the sky clear, the soil fertile. The people are friendly and hardworking. The olive tree, the carob tree, the lemon tree and the vine grow on our land. Our vines are blooming and our wines superb. A large mountainous area of the Limassol district is covered with vines. It is the well-known area of 'Krassochoria" or wine-producing villages. Kilani is a picturesque village in this area.
Here, in this traditional wine producing village, where old customs, way of life, traditional occupations and tools are still preserved, everyone is welcome. In the past, every household was a small winery. In every one of these households, you would find all the exhibits and tools you see in this Museum.
In past decades Kilani, the biggest and most important village in this mountainous area, was an administrative and commercial centre for a number of villages in the area with a Land Registry Office, a Magisterial Court, a Government General Practitioner and a central Police Station. You could also find here a number of shops, flour-mills, small craft industries which attracted people from the surrounding villages to do their shopping.
Kilani is the birthplace of a number of distinguished Cypriots. Among them were Archimandrite Kyprianos and Paissios who lived in the 18th century. Proof of their love for the village is preserved until today in the church of Monogenis.
Like most village communities the population of the village has been rapidly declining in the last four decades. The old architecture of the houses is still preserved as very few new houses are nowadays built in the village. It is a densely packed village with houses built in adjoining squares. The irregular, steep, narrow roads take you to the most remote ends of the village. High surrounding walls enclose each household, making it difficult for a passerby to have a look at what is inside. Rectangular and arched solid outside doors are the evidence that family life was of very great importance and securely guarded and protected.
This Museum is, in fact, a traditional household in the village. It is built of mud and stone thick walls, it has a thatched roof of tree logs covered with branches of bushes and mud. It is east-facing and the outside courtyard is covered with white stone slates. The rooms built in a line next to each other get light through the door and more rarely through windows placed on the one side.
It must be pointed out that these three rooms belonged to three different owners and constituted three different households. In each one of these rooms the whole family slept, there were big earthenware jars in which they kept their products and it was not at all unusual to have their animals in the same room. A reminder of hard times and poverty.
Properly made in a bodega in Limassol that could be in Jerez, KEO Fino is the only fortified Cyprus wine made in the traditional "Flor" manner. It is virtually a hobby of the island's largest company. Made from Palomino grapes, in small quantities, it enjoys modest local sales. A writer who shall be nameless regularly plugs it in his column and has been known to reprimand hotel bar keepers if they don't have a chilled bottle available.
"Ayios Andronicos" 1997, Xynisteri from the Monte Royal Winery at Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery
Made the first 'independent' winery, started 15 years ago, with German advice and equipment. Grapes from the monastery's own vineyards. Problems of inconsistency but on its day this is one of the best whites on the island. Xynisteri, the indigenous variety, makes a nice, fresh wine, which can be fruity and is best drunk young.
"Ayia Irini" 1997 Semillon-Xynisteri from the Paphos winery of Theodoros Fikardos, a young, adventurous and increasingly successful wine-maker. He makes limited quantities of varietals (Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon), which show well the origin of the grape but are gentle and enjoyable.
"Vasilikon" 1996 Xynisteri from Kathikas Winery, Paphos, another young winery established in 1994. Good light gold colour, nice fruity nose and crisp 'Xynisteri' grape flavour. A staple white and enjoyed by most of our visitors.
"Ayios Onoufrios" 1996 from the Kathikas Winery. A blend of indigenous grapes - the low-acid Mavro and higher acidity Opthalmo and Maratheftiko. Drunk young, this wine had a fresh berryness unique to Cyprus. It is worth noting that 1995 was the first year in which the Nikolaides family had ever made commercial red wine.
"Semeli" 1994 from the oldest wine-making company on the island, the House of Haggipavlu. Undisclosed blend, probably some Mavro, Opthalmo and maybe Cabernet. Made in some quantities, it is a cut above most factory wine and has the virtue of being consistent year on year. Plenty of bite for red meats, stews etc
"Heritage" 1990 Varietal Maratheftiko Another indulgence by KEO, but one with a future. Maratheftiko is a high-acid, tanninic Cyprus grape, rediscovered by KEO growing in small numbers in a field of Mavro - a sure hint that in the "old" days in the villages they knew about blending low and high acid grapes. KEO have spent a lot of money developing and replanting this grape, rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, in order to produce, in very Bordeaux style, wine which spends six months in new Limousin oak barrels.