Heritage of success
Ktima Kir-Yianni is at the highest point of Naoussa, near the village of Yiannakohori in Macedonia. It is approximately 300 metres above sea level with a panoramic view across the surrounding countryside. The climate is cooler than the rest of Greece – but still Mediterranean – and the soil is varied but mainly sandy.
The tradition of wine making goes back centuries, with the first written documents about vine growing and wine-making dating back to the16th century.
Yiannis Boutaris founded Ktima Kir-Yianni in 1997 after working in the family winery (Boutaris wines) for more than 30 years. The Boutaris family is one of the oldest organised wine operations in Greece and was first established in 1879, although the family grew grapes and made their own wine long before that. In Greece, they are a household name,
synonymous with wine production. Yiannis was instrumental in the continuing success of the family business, and this experience, inspiration and know-how carried over to the new venture at Yiannakohori and Amyndeo in 1997.
Today Stelios and Michalis, the two sons who run the winery, remain loyal to the rich tradition of their family.
Xinomavro continues to be the main grape variety, although other varieties have also proved successful and are now part of an ever-evolving heritage.
The Boutaris family has innovation in their DNA. They were the first to adopt the revolutionary technique of bottling their wines in 1879, at a time when everybody else around the world was still selling wine in barrels. And over a century later, Yiannis Boutaris was a pioneer in the introduction of international grape varieties never heard of in Naoussa – Syrah and Merlot. Not only was he highly successful, but he became an inspiration to other producers. He also pioneered production from single parcels of land that created some iconic wines. Today his son Stelios is following a similar recipe, but with his own fresh input. Stelios is equally focused on expressing the character of a complex terroir by bottling from individual plots, but he has also mastered the art of blending.
Yiannis is not just a visionary, but a visionary with persistence – two vital character traits in the pursuit of quality. He has passed on these qualities to his children.
Stelios, in charge today, closely monitors every aspect of the business: the planting, cultivation, vinification and blending.
Stelios and the Boutaris family feel they are creating something tangible and concrete at every stage of the winemaking process. They believe they have much more in common with artists than with bankers or accountants. They follow a so-called integrated system of farming, and carry out extensive research on each individual parcel of land so that the wine can express its unique character.
Xinomavro is a grape variety that is highly susceptible to disease and has exceptionally harsh, high tannins. It is not easily tamed, and immense skill and care is needed to produce the masterpieces of Kir Yianni.
When Stelios sees his vines bearing grapes and then watches the grapes transformed into wine, he feels a sense of profound vindication. He knows he has accomplished his mission, as a wine-maker and as a man.
Since the beginning in the 1990s, the philosophy of Kir-Yianni has been to strive for the best by continually combining tradition and innovation.
The Kir-Yianni winery produces approachable wines that represent value for money, as well as premium wines that are age-worthy and will prove their potential over time.
According to Stelios, his ambition is simply to have his wines featured on any serious wine list all over the world.
Not as a projection of his ego, but as a recognition of the undisputed quality of the wine.
Photos: Ktima Kir-Yianni