Spira, Ktima Ligas

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Spira, NV, Ktima Ligas

A complex oxidative wine that offers so much depth in so many layers

Region: Macedonia, Greece
Grape(s): Xinomavro
Genre: Organic (in mentality, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Orange, quince, tomato, almond, walnut, honey

In the Pella region of Macedonia, 30 miles northwest of Thessaloniki, Euripides tragedy Bacchae was first performed in the early 400s BC. This was a play in honour of the god Bacchus, the god wine and joy, and this is fantastic symbolism for Ktima (‘Domaine’) Ligas ethos of creating wine and joy using ancient techniques. After starting an education in biochemistry in France in the early 1980s, Thomas Ligas shifted his focus to Oenology and graduated in that subject in 1984. He returned to his native Pella, and started learning about the local ecosystems, local grape cultivation and vinification. In 1988 Ktima Ligas was founded, with organic farming at the core. A year later, his twins were born and their life has run parallel to that of the Domaine and, after some years learning their trade studying and working in France, they have both returned to Pella and are working alongside their father today. Thomas, Peli and Jason have 15 hectares now, having gradually grown from the 1.5 that Thomas started with over 30 years ago. Jason is the real face of the winery now, and his time spent with true legend Jacques Selosse in Champagne for two years taught him many things – with one notable lesson being the use of clay vessels for ageing, particularly egg-shaped clay, which has a natural convection current that reducing the need for punching down during maceration. They are both forward thinking and historically inclined, but always with respect for nature at the forefront of their thinking – and a desire for perfect fruit to create fantastic wines.

A blanc de noirs Xinomavro made in a Solera system (like in Sherry), this is a wine like no other – and in this case that is far beyond any cliché. Red grapes, made into a white wine that is aged in an oxidative way to give nuttiness and orange colour – it behaves like a complex orange wine and bends the mind in doing so. From the ‘Nebbiolo of Greece’, Xinomavro vines of around 30 years old, planted on clay and sand, are pressed directly into stainless steel. The direct press is done slowly, so a feint pink tinge is on the base wine, extracting red fruit and tomato flavours, together with a fine and elegant tannin. The wine then enters old demi-muids (500 litre French oak barrels) and ages in a Solera system where the wines are left without additions, then each year a new young wine going into the top barrels, and around 1/3 of each previous year going into the next level of the system (or ‘Criadera’ in Sherry). The 1/3 or so from oldest barrels, or the Solera, are bottled and the resulting wine is therefore non-vintage, complex and intense with oxidative characteristics including almonds, hazelnuts, honey and spice. Here those aspects are balanced with acidity and aromatics from the grape varieties and the relative lack of age in the Solera – these wines go back around 10 years, rather than the typical 20-30 in Oloroso sherry.