A couple of months back I had the opportunity to try some dessert wines from Cyprus. It was my first experience with wines from this island. Whenever I'm at a large-scale tasting, as I was on this day I keep my eyes open for anyone pouring dessert wines, as they're of particular interest to me. Much like the larger world of wine itself they're made from a wide array of varietals in a host of different styles. I'm going to look at several dessert wines from Cyprus. The first two will be from Etko Wines, which is the oldest Greek Cypriot Winery. Additionally the Etko wines are from the Commandaria region, which is the oldest wine appellation in the world. Wines have been made there since 1,000 BC. Etko Winery itself was founded in 1844. Etko Wines Commandaria Centurion is a blend of 60% Xynisteri and 40% Mavro. The wine is made from a cuvee ranging in age from 30 to 100 years. Centurion has a suggested retail price of $130. A looked around on wine-searcher and it can be found for around $99. Alcohol is 16%, fairly modest for a dessert wine.
Centurion has an immense nose filled with honey; figs, raisins, apricot and other assorted dried fruits along with gingerbread spice and a hint of espresso bean. The first sips bring out apricot, fruitcake spice, additional fig and date bread notes. These carry on through the mid-palate, which is underpinned by a subtle hint of balsamic vinegar. The finish, which is long, luxurious and persistent in its intensity, has subtle cinnamon notes and hints of chicory, which lend to some earthiness.
Most wine producing regions have a signature style of dessert wine. Some have several. Italy has Vin Santo, France Sauternes and in the US we have late harvest wines. Cyprus has the Commandaria area, which produces some lovely wines. Centurion is a complex, layered and elegant dessert wine befitting its status as a benchmark wine.
At a suggested retail price of $130 this isn't by any means an inexpensive wine. But it's a tremendous wine well worth experiencing. Centurion would be a perfect dessert to serve guests at the end of a dinner party or gathering with close friends and family.
Up Next: Another Commandaria Dessert Wine from Etko.
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