Jul 2, 2012

2008 Keo Heritage (100% Maratheftiko) from Cyprus - an interesting wine where Bordeaux meets Syrah

From a rare Cypriot indegineous grape Maratheftiko (100%), Keo's Heritage wine is part of a serious effort to re-establish quality wine making in Cyprus.

Keo has been in the forefront of the development to bring back indigenous grapes cultivated on the island since ancient times, of which Maratheftiko is a prime example. As the grape is found only from the areas of Pitsillia and Troodos the scarcity of the grapes leads to a production quantity of only 10,000 bottles.

I consider myself lucky that a friend of mine brought the bottle from Cyprus to show the capability of local wine making. The Heritage 2008 is an interesting wine which combines aromas of a bordeaux blend and a northern Rhone syrah. The 2008's palate is soft, round and almost silky and with nice acidity. Full-bodied with a grip on the mid-palate however with a slightly bitter and short finish. Aged for 3 years in French oak from Limousin, the wine's tannins are nicely integated at the age of 4 years (tasted in July 2012).

A world of aromas. Full of ripe plum as well as mint, tobacco, moccha, hint of blackcurrant leaf, chocolate, dark spices, ink and green pepper, all indications of a classical bordeaux blend of Cabernet franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (in that order, due to noteable green notes). However after longer decanting the aforementioned notes are mixed with pepper, blueberry and leather, all Syrah-like notes.

An impressive wine (albeit the short finish) from a relatively unknown grape. It would be highly interesting to see what other producers are able to do with this grape, as the grape itself shows potential. The wine was recommended to be enjoyed from cabernet / bordeaux glasses, which we experimented to be a good option.

Having previously tasted Vlassides' Cabernet Sauvignon (a surprisingly good wine), I come to think that Cyprus is a hidden gem in particular when considering price to quality ratio. And with only limited area for cultivation of wine, Cyprus might stay under the radar for a while. However based on tasting wines from limited amount of quality producers such as Keo and Vlassides, quality wine making looks promising on the island. I want more of these!


  1. Yes to more of it. Keo is doing a good job with red local grapes in general. An otherwise very enjoyable read, albeit the need to situate this grape and wine within a french palate. It's understandable and perhaps inevitable to seek points of references when discovery new wines and varieties.
    Just a note about Maratheftiko Vineyards, Pitsilia is actually the region where Marathefiko is least grown today as Krasochoria, Vouni Panayia and Diarizos regions concentrate today most of the fields with this variety which in the coming years will produce single estate Maratheftiko wines which should be even more interesting. Best!

  2. Smaller Family-owned boutique winery in Cyprus have made serious efforts over the last decade and present wines 2-3 levels higher quality than KEO.
    Argyrides, Hadjiantonas, Kyperounda, Zambartas, Vlassides to name the most notable ones.
    Give me an address and in August that i'll be in France i can post a bottle or 2 for tasting.