SAKIS & MARIOS NIKOLAIDIS “Back to Natural Winemaking”
You own an up-and-coming winery with optimistic prospects. Tell us about it.
Our company was founded in 2005 by me and my brother, Sakis Nikolaidis. The privately owned vineyard is located in the area of Abdera in Xanthi. Today the company releases 7 labels of certified organic wines under the brand name EASTERN VINEYARDS and continues its development program aiming at the expansion of the vineyard, always in accordance with the principles of organic farming, the cultivation of traditional varieties in Abdera and Thrace. highlighting through our wines the history and the wine interest of the wider area.
How did this wine business get started?
There has always been good selected wine in our house. Later, with my focus on catering, I learned to distinguish quality from well-publicized and often overpriced wine. So we decided to contribute to the good Greek wine, making our own vineyard. After study and research with our scientific collaborators and with the use of meteorological data of the last 35 years from the Democritus University of Thrace but also the soil data from the I.G.M.E., we chose the specific location with the most favorable microclimate for vine cultivation in Abdera. What varieties do you grow? The white Greek varieties Moschato, Assyrtiko and Malagouzia have been preferred and selected. In red we grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and we have revived the old Thracian variety Mavroudi Thrace. It is worth noting that this variety has first enchanted us and the public and critics, in Greece and abroad, with its capacity to produce quality red and rosé wines.
What is your opinion about this year’s vintage and what can we expect from your winery this year?
The year was quite good with great drought (120 days of drought) and heat, without major heat waves, and several east winds that helped organic farming. The crop, although reduced in quantity by 20%, is predicted to be excellent with strong aromatic characteristics, good phenolic potential and high acidities. This, of course, to find out we have to wait a few more months for white wines to mature and show their potential.
And here we dispel the myth that white wine is drunk fresh, a fact that is wrongly impressed on the conscience of most wine lovers because of the “rush” of many winemakers. As for the reds we have to be even more patient to mature in oak French barrels for the next 18 months. This year we have an originality for Greece, we have vinified a natural orange wine (natural orange wine) fermented in an amphora with native yeasts without sulfite and no oenological intervention. It is worth noting that it is a special wine and the way of vinification is the same since ancient times. Going back to natural winemaking is a global trend, and the whole process has been a challenge for our winery. Finally, I do not hide from you the sweet natural sun-dried wine that has been maturing for 3 years in our oak barrels.
Do you export abroad? To what extent have international awards helped in this?
The international awards did not come by chance. Our wines compete every year in major international competitions with very large participation (3,000-4,000 wines from the world vineyard in each competition) and all have been awarded. Of course, these awards are the best advertisement for our wines, especially abroad where we export a large part of our production.
The Xanthi wine lover who can find your wines?
Our wines are available in all the cellars of our city. Also, in all the stores “Byzantinos Fournos” and in the confectionery “Byzantio”. Finally, you can enjoy them in many cafe-bars and restaurants in the city.
I would like your opinion on the course of Greek wine today.
Its course can be brilliant as long as we understand that each place has something unique, each place can make more wine, each variety has its own history. This does not exist in the rest of the world. We can not compete with the prices and hectares of other countries but even they can not have our own special microclimate that produces such special wines.
What does good wine mean to you?
A good wine is meant to be bottled, to have something special, to bring out the place that “gave birth”, to evolve in the glass and not to be repeated, to be characterized by complexity and of course to enjoy it with good company.