It takes a village… to run a winery!

It takes a village….

Growing up in a small village of less than 800 people, I can say that a lot of the preconceptions about village life are actually true. It is quiet, it can be boring, there is village gossip (a lot of it!), it is a closed community, there is a level of jealousy. But there is also a real sense of community, there is safety, people still greet each other on the road, stress gets blown away by a fresh breeze, and the smell of flowers fills up the air in spring.

I would have never expected to end up again in a village 8 years after leaving my own village in Holland. At first, I was a bit wary of my return to village life, especially knowing that I was not only an outsider to the village, but also a foreigner. Marcos and Akis settled in Agios Amvrosios, with no tie to it, except for it to be one of the classic Wine Villages of Limassol. Being Nicosians, the village dynamics were maybe even more foreign to them, than they were to me.

Another 10 years fast forward, not only have we become ‘locals’ in Agios Amvrosios, but the winery is generously supported by the help and hard work of so many locals. Over the years as we slowly got to know the village, its dynamics and its people, we grew closer as persons and as a business. Four out of eleven of our winery’s team members were born and raised in Agios Amvrosios, and all of our own vineyards are harvested every year by the experienced hands of Agios Amvrosios’ families.

There is Mr. Yiannis, who offers us water from his well to irrigate our young Lefkada vineyard. There is Mrs. ‘Ellou’, 71 years old, who all her life, every year, harvested grapes. She now does it for us, with a speed and care, we would not change with a mechanical harvester. There is Dimitra, who provides us the latest village gossip and has a fast hand in bottling wine.

Our own team members, Stavros and Kyriakos, father and son, working hard everyday to make sure our vineyards are pruned and healthy. Leonidas, working with persistence, even in the hottest days of the year. Rafaella, whom we know since 2011 when she was 16 and came to sort grapes in her school holidays, now keeps our winery clean and tidy for our visitors.

But there is more. There is a sense of feeling included in the community. We get delivered freshly baked Flaounes before Easter by the Leonidou family. We provide grape juice and in return Mrs. Koulla brings us ‘palouze’, still warm and fragrant. Mail gets delivered to us, even if the address is completely wrong, because the mailman knows us. Figs, courgettes, eggs or watermelons come our way, fresh and from the village, depending on the season.

Zambartas wines are not only a product or our passion, they are a product of the environment they are made in. That environment is friendly, generous and has a sense of ‘care’.

We just had to scratch off the thin layer of initial suspicion that we found 10 years ago. We had to invest in getting to know the families. What we got in return, is a beautiful synergy between our winery and Agios Amvrosios.

Today, we are proud to have given back to the village its pride in being a ‘Wine Village’.

Open on the upcoming public holidays!

The winery will be open during the 2 upcoming public holidays on Monday 25 March and Monday 1 April. We welcome you for a tour and tasting from 10.00h-16.30h.

We hope to see you!

Christmas Season Opening Hours

During the period of the Christmas Holidays the winery’s opening hours for visits are as follows:

Sat – Sunday 22-23 Dec Closed
Monday 24 Dec Open (10.00am – 4.00pm)
Tues-Wednesday 25-26 Dec Closed
Thurs-Friday 27-28 Dec Open (10.00am – 4.00pm)
Sat- Sunday 29-30 Dec Closed
Monday 31 Dec Open (10.00am – 4.00pm)
Tuesday 1 Jan Closed
Wed-Friday 2-3-4 Jan Open (10.00am – 4.00pm)
Sat-Sunday 5-6 Jan Closed
Monday 7 Jan onwards Open normally again during weekdays from 10.00 am to 4.00pm

 

We wish you a lovely holiday period! Cheers!

‘We must strive to be young as a Beaujolais and grow old like a Burgundy.’

This year our vintage team was joined by Morphee Besseau, 2nd year student of Enology & Marketing at Bordeaux University and Jade Godmuse, student of food technology and applicant at SupAgro Montpellier.  Two hard working, focussed, but also fun and social French girls. Let’s meet them!

So ladies, let’s introduce you first! Where & how did you grow up?

Jade I grew up in the western suburb of Paris, close to Versailles. I have one younger brother and since high school I studied far from my home. I had the chance to travel a lot with my family when I was younger, and now, and I love that!

Morphee I’m from the Atlantic coast, I grew up at 20 minutes from the beach and the sea. I’m from a little village in the Vendée which is in located at one hour from Nantes. I grew up between one lovely older brother and my twin sister.  I’ve been also lucky because my neighbours were my grandparents, so I could see them every week as my uncle/aunt. After high school I went to Rennes for my study; I stayed there for 5 years. My current studies drove me to Bordeaux. I am really happy to be there, I fell in love with the city!

How did your interest in wine develop?

Jade My interest came from my interest in food actually! I love cooking. Then, I learnt how to appreciate wine during family dinners, as well as how to pair our meal with wine. Nowadays, I like drinking wine with friends and having good time around a good dinner.

Morphee It was more or less a coincidence. I’m not from the wine world; I didn’t inherit that from my education. I had to do an agricultural internship during my first studies and I chose to do it in the winery “J. MOURAT” which is a famous winery in my region. They generously shared with me their knowledge, their passion, mostly their ‘’love of wine’’. They made me realise that the winemaking process requires scientific and artistic intuition. I understood at the end of this first internship that I want to work in the wine world.

What is your favourite food & wine combination?

Jade Foie gras with sweet white wine, defenitely!

Morphee I appreciate to mix sugar and salt, acid and sweet…. So, as a French girl, one of my favourites is also ‘’foie gras’’ with a Gewurztraminer late harvest or a Chenin late harvest from AOC Fief Vendéen. You can also combine this sweet wine with a ‘’canard à l’orange’’ (duck cooked with orange), well-cooked it is fabulous.

What was your first impression of Cyprus vineyards and wines?

Jade My first impressions were that the vineyards look pretty wild if you compare to France, you don’t always have straight lines, you have to take a little mountain path to get there. One more thing, the shape of the very old vine was so impressive. I was also impressed with all the indigenous Cypriot varieties used for winemaking, and how good they are. My favorite one is the Maratheftiko!

Morphee I’m from the west coast and I study in Bordeaux so I’m used to see huge vineyards, some hectares for one plot where all the vines are under trellising system. When I arrived, I was really surprised by this aspect of the vineyards: small plots, spread vineyards, bush vines, no trellising systems etc.  I was happy to see new and different viticulture management.

I was really excited to discover all the local varieties and visit a few wineries. Unfortunately, I would need more time see them all. If I should put forward one thing which surprised me most, I think it’s the rosé colour:  I am used to drink the light rosé from Provence, I remember having been surprised by the deep colour of the Cyprus rosés.

What did you learn during your stay in Cyprus?

Jade As it was my first experience in the wine industry, I could say that I learned everything that I know in the vineyards and about winemaking, here in Cyprus!

Morphee I completed only one harvest internship when I arrived in Cyprus, so my experience was limited. I only did red vinification in my previous internship.  So now, everything that I know in practice in rosé and white vinification comes from Zambartas winery.  I cannot do a listing of all the stuff that I learnt because it’s too much, but in conclusion I learnt here the tools to produce a quality wine with scientific rigor.

And about the life in Cyprus, I’ve been really happy to learn about the history of this island; The island’s culture is so rich! This country deserves to be known and not only for his coast and beaches.

What was you must fun moment in Cyprus?

Jade I can’t describe only one moment because we had a lot! But for me it was generally every vineyard trip with Cristodoulos and Morphée. You can’t imagine how much bullying we did to each other in the Mitsubishi!

Morphee I had a lot of fun moments in Cyprus, during my trips discovering the country, with the people that I met on the way and so much at work. I have been lucky to do my internship in a fun team. Some of the best moments where when I went in the vineyards with Christodoulos and Jade; he called us the ‘French Forces’!!

Last, but not least; tell us your favourite wine related expression!

Jade Il faut s’efforcer d’être jeune comme un beaujolais et de vieillir comme un Bourgogne.’ – (‘We must strive to be young as a Beaujolais and grow old like a Burgundy.’)

Morphee I don’t know any wine expression, but one that I love is: “Le bon vivant n’est pas celui qui mange beaucoup, mais celui qui goûte avec bonheur à toutes les formes de la vie.” – (“The bon vivant is not the one who eats a lot, but the one who happily tastes all forms of life.”)

 

Ladies, thank you again for your hard work and good luck with your career in wine!

Open Doors Weekends 17-18 & 24-25 Nov

We are happy to announce our yearly ‘Open Doors Weekends‘ on 17-18 and 24-25 November.

We weclome you from 11.00h until 17.00h for  free tours & tastings. Get to sample our full range of wines, including the newly bottled Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2018!

Tours of the cellar will be held at set times during the day: 11.30, 13.00, 14.30 and 16.00h.

On Saturdays we will offer vertical tastings of our Maratheftiko and Shiraz-Lefkada as well.

Children are welcome; we provide colouring books, pencils, snacks and baby changing facilities.

Bookings in advance are not nessecary. *

We hope to see you then!

The Zambartas Family & Hospitality team

*For groups over 12 people, we advise to call us in advance at 25 94 24 24

 

This event is co-organised by our colleague wineries: Vlassides, Kyperounta, Tsiakkas and Argyrides. Get the chance to visit a few of the best wineries of Cyprus in one weekend!

Vintage at Zambartas – ‘A tower of Babel’?

If you walk into our cellar during the harvest period, you are entering a happy but noisy place. There is always some machinery working. The press might be finishing it pressing cycle. Pumps can be running. The crushing machine could be in full swing. The forklift moving around a small tank.  Crates unloading. Stainless steel tools clinging and singing. Tanks providing background noise of soft fermentation bubbling.

On top of that there is the team working hard, sometimes shouting, joking or laughing. A grower with full crates will arrive and in heavy dialect make clear that he is here! You will detect Cypriot, Romanian, English, Dutch, French and Greek… Jokes get lost in translation and puzzled faces of complete misunderstanding might appear. The Zambartas children running around teaching the whole team some Dutch essentials. The French interns using French measurement terms, rather than the Australian. A Cypriot swearing in Romanian. The tourist desperately trying to translate their cellar tour in their own language…

Sounds pretty messy, right? Do we really make good wine like this?

Are we a modern day ‘Tower of Babel’? : Babel (Akkadian Bab-ilu, ‘gate of God’). A confusion of noises or voices; a hubbub. The allusion is to the confusion of tongues during the building of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11).”

I would say yes. But the way the Babylonians supposedly created a magnificent tower despite the confusion, I dare to say we manage to make pretty good wine at the end of the day!

What I appreciate so much about our team is their flexibility and team work. Despite all of us coming from different countries and backgrounds, having different mother tongues and cultural habits, we always find a way to communicate. To solve a problem and to enjoy each other’s company. To give each other a helping hand when needed. When one is really tired, the other will do some extra. Give a compliment or say sorry. It is all part of the job and every day we learn something from each other.

It is great blessing to work with different nationalities and feel that we are all connected. We have an international squad that operates like a streamlined national football team. Don’t ask which national team, because we might get into a quarrel 😉

‘A team is as good as its members’ and I would say ‘A wine is as good as the team spirit it has been created with!

Cheers from a busy and noisy winery!

Marleen

Winery open on 1st of October

The winery will be open with normal opening hours on monday 1st of October (Independence Day). We welcome you from 11.00AM to 4.00PM for tours & tastings.

See you!

The Winemaker’s Story of the Xynisteri Single Vineyard 2017

The Vineyard

The vineyard was planted in Spring of 1989; at a moment that I was a young boy, probably not too eager to return to primary school in Nicosia after the Easter holidays. I could have never imagined that skipping 25 years, the vineyard was purchased by our winery and the vision of a Xynisteri Single Vineyard label would start to morph.

The vineyard is unique in many ways. Its south-west orientation allows for enough sunshine hours to ripen the grapes and thus expressing their aromatic potential. Indeed, apart from the characteristic citrus aroma of the variety, this wine exhibits floral scents which are only achieved when Xynisteri grapes are fully ripe and produced in moderate yields (Both these conditions are difficult to meet when a Xynisteri wine is made in tens of thousands of liters from different vineyards).

For the fact that we can cultivate this vineyard with organic practices, I must praise the previous owner’s ability to shape the vines in an ‘open’ goblet style. This allows the wind to pass through the canopy of the vines and curb the built-up of population of fungus and other ailments of the vine due to reduced humidity. Therefore, spraying is scarcely needed in the vineyard, which allows the full expression of the Xynisteri gape variety.

The winemaking

As we use organic practices in the vineyard, I also decided to ferment the wine naturally. I believe the full expression of the Xynisteri grape variety can only be achieved by using its indigenous yeast rather than industrially propagated yeast. Indigenous yeast of many different strains lives on grape berries. Once fermentation starts, they produce a unique complex aroma of different citrus fruit and white flowers. Using only indigenous yeast is a risky endeavor since the yeast can also produce off-flavours that cannot be ‘blended away’, since Zambartas Single Vineyard Xynisteri is produced in just 2000L yearly. The following 6-month aging in big oak barrels enriches the wine with body and length.

The wine style

The Zambartas Single Vineyard Xynisteri is an innovative wine style for the Cyprus wine scene. It exhibits a very complex and unique aroma of citrus, white flowers and sweet spice. Much fuller and fresher than the typical Xynisteri wine, it pairs very well with big grilled fish and white meat.

The Screw cap

No, it is not just my ‘Australian’ training, which guided the choice for screwcap! The whole Zambartas team worked really hard for the whole year to reach the high quality and complexity of the aroma of this wine. I would not leave anything to chance to compromise it. Even the best corks have a chance of allowing too much oxygen to pass through to the wine thus developing the wine too fast. Hence the choice of using a screw cap from one of the leading manufacturers in Austria was imperative. And in any case, you might find yourself at a picnic site without a corkscrew!

Marcos Zambartas,

Winemaker

 

The grapes at harvest

Hand harvesting with our team of local people from the wine villages

Transporting the grapes in small crates protects them from damages

Xynisteri Single Vineyard 2017

Winemaker’s Wife – The story of the New Single Vineyard label

A modern and easily distinguishable label. Different from the Zambartas Range, and at the same time in line with our characteristic style. Something that expresses the vineyard. The soil. The vines. The beauty of its age. The typical way it is cultivated. The robust character of a vine in a hot climate.  Something that touches on the essence of a Single Vineyard Range. And finally, something that makes the label ‘ours’.

All of the above sum up pretty well what we looked for when we decided to give our Xynisteri Single Vineyard (and the Single Vineyard range to follow) a new jacket. Not an easy task to express that in a label and how to find the artist?

Things fell into place relatively quickly once we decided that this could be another unique ‘family’ project. We have always cherished the fact that our family created the winery and wines, so why not extend this to the labels also? My father (and Marcos’ father-in-law), Gerard, always had a big talent for sketching and painting. Since his retirement, he has picked up the pencil more frequently  and recently graduated from the Arendonk Art Academy in Belgium. He has an inherent love for nature and very much enjoys helping out at the winery during his stays in Cyprus. Bingo, one plus one is two!

So, Gerard got his sketchbook and headed to the vineyard on a cool autumn afternoon and started sketching the different shapes of vines. Old bush vines can have beautiful artistic shapes and none of them are the same. Each one of them grows in a unique way. After a study, some photographs and a few aquarelles he came to his final sketch which is now on the new label.

We immediately loved it and ask our graphic designer to blend it in with our modern labels. The result is, in our modest opinion 😉, very refined and yet modern. We are very proud that we yet again managed to include a family member’s talent in our product and especially Marleen is excited to see her proud dad!

Family.Creation.Nature.Synergy.

These are the four words that we choose to feature on the new label. I think the story of the evolution of the label fits these four words perfectly.

We love it. We hope you do as well!

 

Love,

A winemaker’s Wife

 

Ps: Yes, it is under screwcap! We decided to go against prevailing opinions and attitudes in Cyprus, because we believe screwcap is a very good closure for quality wines. Marcos will explain in his winemaker’s notes why.

Gerard and Marcos during a visit to the Xynisteri Vineyard in December

Harvesting the Xynisteri Single Vineyard together with Theo in 2016

Winemaker’s wife -‘Apricot Walnut Lavender Cake’

The season of stonefruits started in Cyprus, a mark for the start of summer! I personally love all stone fruits; apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines… They are a source of antioxidants, the kids adore them and their full sweet taste and balanced acidity make them perfect for baking and cooking desserts.

In Cyprus they are grown in abundance. Our local grocery store stacks full crates of them as soon as you enter the door. Even the petrol station in our village sells them by the bag, for a few euros only, brought by locals in their open pick-up trucks.

Last week, we had 20 journalists over to see our newly renovated winery.  After an abundant lunch of local Cypriot food and wine, we offered them a barrel sample taste of our 2011 Commandaria. I had to think of a cake, preferably seasonal, that would go nicely with the sweet dessert wine. I immediately thought of my ‘always-a-winner-recipe’, which I baked many times for the winery team during the harvest. The Apricot Walnut Lavender Cake. The cake is perfectly combined with a sweet wine or just very tasty with a cup of coffee or tea.

All ingredients are readily available in Cyprus, and you can even find most of them from local producers.

Ingredients:

185g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
2 tbsp walnut oil
220g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
4 medium eggs, beaten
120g ground walnuts
90g plain flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ tsp picked lavender flowers, fresh or dry
Salt
600g (gross) apricots, halved and stones removed

For the icing
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Put the butter, oil, sugar and almonds in the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, making sure each addition is well incorporated before beginning the next, then fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, a teaspoon of lavender flowers and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.

Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the cake mix and use a palette knife to level it out. Arrange the apricot halves skin side down and slightly overlapping all over the top of the cake, taking them right to the edge.

Bake for 70-80 minutes – cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much; also, note that when you insert a skewer to test for doneness, it will come out a little sticky because of all the moisture in the apricots.

While the cake is baking, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a light, pourable icing (adjust the amount of sugar or juice slightly, to suit your tastes). As soon as the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and brush the icing all over the top. Sprinkle over the remaining lavender flowers and set aside to cool.

Recipe from: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Enjoy!

Love,

A Winemaker’s Wife