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2021 LYRARAKIS Melissaki Geroditi

2021 LYRARAKIS Melissaki Geroditi

Region: Crete < Greece

Grapes: Melissaki

Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic, in certification process, single, dry-farmed vineyard on limestone and clay soil, fermented 12 days on the skins then aged on lees for 3 months in 2nd use big barrels, then rests for 10 weeks before bottling, unfined and unfiltered, with <30ppm added SO2; certified vegan; 13.5% ABV

Winemaker: Miriam Ambuzer

Super interesting orange wine from a nearly extinct varietal, Melissaki on the island of Crete, with a Palestinian/Cretan young woman at the helm - so many unicorns here!

Lyrarakis is credited with spearheading the modern Cretan wine industry, garnering praise from Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker (but don’t let that put you off), Decanter and sundry other arbiters of taste in the wine world. Established by Manolis Lyrarakis and his brother Sotiris in 1966 and now in the hands of their offspring, Lyrarakis has 15 hectares of vineyards on limestone/gravel in the mountainous region to the south of Heraklion.  They were the first producers on Crete to champion indigenous grapes, saving some from certain extinction. Recently the family has revived the Melissaki grape; currently nobody else on the island is growing it, but it has been found to be hardy and resistant to drought so shows great potential for our climate-changed future.  Myriam Ambuzer is the winemaker here. Her father is Palestinian and mother Cretan.  “You could say that I grew up in the winery.” she says.   In addition to growing their own grapes, Lyrarakis works closely with around 100 other growers on the island. They are constantly researching and experimenting, mixing organic, biodynamic and old-school, traditional practices.

The nose is surprising - it smells like really good weed.  And the palate is elegant, serious even , with crisp white fruit, lemon balm, and salty rocks, with a dense texture and tea-like grippy tannins but pretty fruit and an herbal, citrus thing (lemon balm? lemon verbana?)  Orange wine fans, this is a geeky wine you need to try.

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