Many have said, in different versions, that life is too short for inferior wine – and we agree! That’s why the high gastronomic standards of our Half Board Premium terms are carried over to the selection of premium wines that accompany your meals at the Amavi. Our on-site sommelier and team of experienced chefs, well-versed in the science of matching the correct wines to the dominant qualities of individual dishes, have spent many hours pairing their culinary creations with the best bottles that Cyprus – the first European country to vinify grapes into wine – has to offer.
Here in Cyprus we have been spoiled by easy access to superior wine. Forty years ago that usually meant imports from France or Italy. But these days, the best wine available on the island is most often Cypriot. You are probably familiar with Bordeaux and Burgundy, Chianti and Barolo, Chablis and Riesling, even Retsina or Assyrtiko. It’s available wherever you call home. But Cyprus wine? The fact is, the majority of Cyprus wineries are boutique-sized and don’t produce enough wine to export. But hundreds of years ago Cyprus wine was famous all over Europe and the Middle East. It was a Cyprus wine that won the first international wine competition in 1224. King Philip Augustus of France loved Cyprus wine so much he ordered his court poet to compose an epic ode to its charms. And then there was the Ottoman ruler, Suleiman the Sot, who was so enamoured of Cyprus wine, he conquered the island just to keep his private cellar stocked.
During the 300 years of Ottoman occupation the Cyprus wine industry all but disappeared. And it wasn’t until the late 1980s that Cypriot wine began to rebuild its once lofty reputation. It was then that the Cyprus government started a programme to encourage and help develop the growth of small, family-run wineries that would concentrate on quality over quantity to produce wines able to compete with the best efforts of continental Europe and the New World.
Over the course of 30 years these dedicated winemakers – earning degrees in various aspects of winemaking from universities in France, Italy, Greece, California and Australia, and employing the profession’s top consultants – have steadily improved their oenological expertise and are consistently winning gold and silver medals in competitions all over the world. Month after month prestigious wine magazines such as Decanter and Wine Enthusiast award Cyprus wines ratings in the 90s. The French, in particular, are mad about wines made from Maratheftiko, a grape that is unique to Cyprus.
Maratheftiko is one of eight native varieties that are being aggressively cultivated right now (with Xinisteri and Mavro taking up the majority of acreage). But the classic, old-world grapes – the red Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, the standard rosé varietal Grenache, and the white Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat of Alexandria – have all proved well-suited to the climate and soils of Cyprus, and the wines produced from them have won top prizes at home and abroad.
When you taste a premium Cyprus wine, you know at once it has been honestly made and without the interference of chemicals, additives and over-manipulation. The grapes have all been picked and sorted by hand then treated with great care in every step of the winemaking process. Because the wineries are small and family run with the owners working on site there is maximum control. Located most often in quiet, cobblestoned villages in the mountains of Paphos and Limassol (the high altitude provides acidity, a good thing in wine), Cyprus’ wineries thrive in clean, pollution-free air and isolated ideal conditions – a wine purist’s dream.
After sampling premium Cyprus wines with your meals at any of the Amavi’s four restaurants, you’ll be hunting down your favourite Xinisteri, Maratheftiko or Shiraz in the local shops and cavas. Better yet, why not take a picturesque drive to visit one of the more than 50 wineries of the Paphos and Limassol districts. Most likely you’ll be welcomed by the winemakers themselves and treated to some homespun Cyprus hospitality.
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