The cooperation for the achievement of a common goal may be the definition of many English words, such as collectivism, for example. In Greek, this word is “Argatia.” The winery which takes this name was founded in 2000 by Dr. Haroula Spinthiropolou, a viticularual agronomist, and Panagiotis Georgiadis, a specialist in collective actions within the viticultural sector. Haroula is also a researcher of Greek grape varieties, and is the author of a book on the subject entitled “Grapevine Varieties Cultivated in Greece.”
The Argatia winery is located in Rodochori, Greece, which is in Macedonia, some 12km northwest of the city of Naoussa, the heart of the wine region of the same name, and easily the most important red wine region in Macedonia, and Greece as a whole. The winery itself sits at some 540m (about 1770 ft) above sea level, with stunning views, particularly towards the south and east where the upper part of Krasta gorge is visible just above vineyards. The winery is a small affair, with all production under one roof. The front yard at winery acts as an experimental laboratory for indigenous grape varieties including; Negoska, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Malagouzia, Mavrodaphne, and of course Xinomavro, the queen variety of Naoussa. The winery produces a maximum of 15,000 bottles per year, or some 1250 cases, focusing on just a few specific wines. As of 2020, elder son, Christoforos Georgiadis oversees operations at Argatia.
Their first vineyard was planted at Krasna, a warmer region, of a lower altitude (260m or 850 feet) than the winery. This, and indeed, all of their vineyards are tended organically, and practicing biodynamically. Eight years later, another vineyard of Xinomavro was added in the even lower-elevation area of Lakka. At some 250m or about 820 feet, this vineyard sits in lighter soils; sandy loam, and sandy clay loam. In 2019, a new vineyard of Assyrtiko was planted in Krasna, followed by another vineyard in Rodochori planted with Mavrodaphne to sandy clay loam soils. These are both adjacent to the winery, and at basically the same altitude.
Xinomavro Naoussa PDO 2016/2018
Grapes for this wine are typically somewhere close to equally sourced from Lakka and Krasta, combining both different sub climates, as well as different clones. From vintage to vintage, this wine is an absolute stunner. In many ways it is the Barbaresco to others’ Barolo; a more feminine approach, nuanced, subtle, almost Burgundian. It leans heavily into the red fruit capabilities of Xinomavro, offering the aforementioned unique tomato notes. Typically, a long cold soak is followed by a cooler fermentation. It then is aged around a year in a combination of French and American oak, but seldom any new oak, as this wine is all about the red fruit, and the exotic, earthy notes. There are no better Xinomavros at a similar price point available. What is being done here is art for the sake of pleasure, and it delivers all the pleasure you desire.
Haroula Red 2019
This is a very well-priced red that punches very high above its weight. A blend of Xinomavro, Negkoska, and the reemerging Mavrodaphne result in a complex, kick-ass, Tuesday night wine. It behaves like the lovechild of Côtes-du-Rhône and Burgundy; earthy and brooding, yet bouncy and vivacious. However, the flavor profiles are elusive, without being uncomfortable or just weird. There are quite a few familiar sensations mingling within; Danish black licorice, tinned cherries, clay, tea, and lots of herbs you just can’t put your finger on. Bring this wine to a blind tasting as a bonus wine and watch nobody come close to getting it.
Haroula White 2021
This gem finally crossed the Atlantic. The white is also from Krasta and is a blend of Magouzia, Assyrtiko, and Xinomavro vinified white. Again employing a cold fermentation to increase subtle complexity, the Xinomavro and Assyrtiko are cofermented, while the Malgouzia is cold soaked for a maximum of 8 hours, then cold fermented. Like its red sibling, the blend of indigenous varieties results in layers of otherworldly aromas, fruits, and earth notes, with intense minerality as an exclamation point. The Malagouzia brings in some baking spice, stone fruit, and would-be intense floral notes, that can often be a bit bawdy were it not for the acid, minerals, and sophisticated austerity of the Assyrtiko and Xinomavro tempering the former.