Londa guests and Limassol visitors seeking authentic cultural experiences have a palate-tingling opportunity on February 8th to taste the latest examples from Oenou Yi – Ktima Vassiliades, one of the island’s longstanding fine winemaking families.
Londa hotel teams up with the Oenou Yi vineyard to present an “eclectic wine-pairing” dinner within the perfect Mediterranean, Italian-style setting of Caprice restaurant. Following a cocktail reception where the first tantalising ‘secret blend’ – an aromatic Xynisteri variety is sure to be a joyous encounter – heady sensory delights continue across a four-course dinner. Each course is accompanied by a new and yet already assured classic blend from the distinctive vision and craft of the Ktima Vassiliades vineyard.
Blends and fermentation techniques long held secret
Wine making culture and the Mediterranean are enduring companions, both historic and mythic. The ancient cult of Dionysus, the Greek God of wine and pleasure is known to have arisen between 1,500 and 1,100 BC. The Minoan civilisation of Crete was the first recorded “terroir”, i.e. entire natural environment for wine production, its fertile combination of climate, soil and cultivation skills continuing to bring forth unique varieties of grape.
Cyprus is known for developing its own traditional vintages, but today exciting new wines are also being lovingly crafted from blends and fermentation techniques long held secret within local wine-making culture. In particular, Omodos village, high up in the Troödos Mountains, about 42 kms north-west of Limassol, where the vineyards of Oenou Yi – Ktima Vassiliades are situated. The tenth Vassiliades generation of wine producers are dedicated to fulfilling the family tradition of fine wine making.
World-class wines known and enjoyed for centuries
In little more than a decade, the wine culture of Cyprus has enjoyed a spectacular renaissance as a new generation of local winemakers rediscover native varieties of grape and experiment with blending foreign grape varieties. Inspired by the exciting possibilities, modern techniques are used to produce world-class wines that still retain the distinctive Cypriot character known and enjoyed for centuries.
Among the many historic winemaking areas is the Akamas Laona – six villages in the northwest region of Cyprus and the Krasohoria, high up in the scenic Omodos area. Its status as one of the most important wine villages in Cyprus is indicated by the existence of a medieval grape grinder, which is prominently mentioned in documents dating back to 1469 AD.
Irresistible taste for ‘nama’ of Omodos
In one popular Cypriot story, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Selim II had developed an irresistible taste for ‘nama’ of Omodos – a luscious sweet red wine traditionally chosen by the clergy for the sacrament of Holy Communion – declaring that “on this island, there is a treasure that only the king of kings deserves to possess”. Such was his passion, the story goes, the Sultan went on to conquer Cyprus in 1571.
Between 1760 and 1767, the Italian antiquarian writer and scientist, Giovanni Mariti, visited Cyprus and refers in detail to the grape harvest and winemaking process. In his writings he observed that, while “several villages produce the best ordinary wines, Omodos, in the south of the island, prides itself for the taste of its wine.” Arguably, the exceptional quality of wines ‘crafted’ by the dedicated producers of Omodos are unrivalled to this day.
Limassol reputation as the “Wine capital of Cyprus”
Historically, almost all exports were made from Lemesos, the original port name for Limassol. The 20 winemaking villages in and around Limassol continue to build upon their reputation as the “Wine capital of Cyprus”. The well-known “appellation of origin” sweet dessert wine from the Commandaria area, which dates back to the 12th century, is made exclusively from two types of indigenous, amber-coloured Cyprus grape.
Despite the cultivation of 15 native grape varieties, Cyprus became known during the 20th century for the most widely grown varieties of red Mavro, Ofthlamo and Maratheftiko grapes, and the white Xynisteri grape, bulk produced for international markets such as Britain and the former Soviet Union. In just the last ten years, however, the Cyprus government has incentivised and promoted a variety of “terroir” produced wines from both small and large producers capable of competing in the international market.
It is in the exceptional terroir region of the Omodos, up to an altitude of 1060 metres, where the linear stepped vineyards of “Oenou Yi” are to be found. Occupying more than 1000 hectares of white limestone, rocky soil of medium consistency the descendants of the Vassiliades family continue to practice their winemaking art.
Newest blends still reflect the personality and ethos of its founder
Passed down from generation to generation, the newest blends still reflect the personality and ethos of its founder. Maybe they would have even inspired Greek poet Homer when he wrote in the 2nd century of the wondrous properties of wine in his epic work the Odyssey.
We feel sure that guests at Londa’s Wine pairing dinner may also be inspired to poetical musings as each dish is served with its own chosen, master-crafted wine from the vineyards of Oenou Yi – Ktima Vassiliades. The evening promises to be a classic 5 star, boutique luxury experience!