In 2003 we started a study of the ecosystems in the Arnea region with the help of the viticulturist department of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki . Its purpose is the setting up of a 20 hectare vineyard in the regions of Arnea and Marathoussa. The objective was to produce high quality ‘terroir’ wines, which – according to Claudia’s philosophy – would reflect the characteristics of their place of origin and be based on the principles of organic farming.
The area selected for planting the estate’s vineyards lies in the west, just outside the traditional village of Arnea. The region has a continental climate. Its winters are known to have very low temperatures, heavy rain and snowfall, which provide the vineyards with the necessary moisture to survive the relatively dry and hot summers. Spring has a relatively low rainfall, but the sunshine and northwest winds of varying intensities clear the fog and late frost, thus helping to ward off diseases. Summers are dry, having many hours of sunshine and heat, which alternate with low temperatures at night due to the area’s close proximity to Holomontas, Chalkidiki’s lush green mountain. These conditions contribute to the slow and normal maturation of the grapes (ideal for high quality red wines) and to increasing the aromatic potential of white varieties.
The vineyard’s soil is divided into two groups: medium-textured sandy loam and clay loam soil. These are relatively neutral to alkaline soil types, poor in organic matter, with good permeability, thus allowing for rainwater infiltration, and rich in iron and magnesium.
The subsoil is limy and allows the root system to grow deeper in search of trace elements.
These soils combined with the subsoil contribute to the production of wines that are rich in colour, have strong aromas and well-structured tannins, which suggest good ageability.
2003 marked the first planting of Syrah (pronounced see-rah – French red grape variety that produces wines with a bold colour, medium-acidity and strong red fruit aromas that become more complex when kept in a barrel) and Grenache Rouge (pronounced gren-ash ˈruːʒ – red variety of Spanish origin producing wines that have high alcoholic strength, are fruity, have medium acidity and body and are slightly pale in colour). The blending of Grenache and Syrah produces a superb rosé.
The planting continued with Assyrtiko, the most versatile white variety of the Greek varieties, which produces wines with high acidity and a pleasant citrus aroma. At the same time Malagouzia was planted, an old Greek variety that has been revived in the last fifteen years starting from Chalkidiki and produces wines with a strong fruity and floral aroma and medium acidity.
Xinomavro, the “queen of Macedonia”, was chosen from the Greek red varieties. Being a versatile variety, it can produce different types of wine and form the base of many blends.
The last plantings involved the following cosmopolitan French varieties: Chardonnay (pronounced shar-doe-nay), which can produce complex white oily wines with full body, especially when kept in a barrel; Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay), which produces strongly aromatic and rich-bodied white wines; Merlot (pronounced merr-lo), which produces red wines that are soft and have the ability to age; and Cabernet Sauvignon (pronounced cab-er-nay so-vin-yon), the dominant red variety from the Bordeaux region that produces assertive and tannic wines that develop in the barrel.
The aim of all applied cultivation techniques is to create plants of medium robustness and vigour, which is a necessary condition for producing high-quality wines. It extends at an altitude of 250-650 metres to seven adjacent vine-growing areas and stops at its natural boundary, a gully with plane trees. The vineyard has gentle slopes ranging from 5% to 20% and its rows run from east to west so as to provide protection against the cold northern winds and strong sunshine in the summer.
The grapevines have been planted in rows (linear layout) with a space of 1-1.30m within each row and a space of 2.40m between rows. An irrigation system has been installed for dealing with extreme drought conditions in the summer. The planting density is 350-400 vines/1000m2, depending on the variety and using the 1103 Paulsen rootstock, and has a low yield of approximately 700-800 kg/1000m2. Pruning takes place using the bilateral or unilateral method (Cordon de Royat) and begins in March. The grapes are harvested by hand and the harvest season begins in late August with the Chardonnay or Merlot varieties and ends in the first half of October with the Xinomavro variety.