Iliana Malihin Old Vines Amygdalos Vidiano 2021
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Press 2 • April 2023 Direct Press Selection
Iliana Malihin studied enology in Athens with focus on researching Vidiano, the native white-wine grape of her home island of Crete. She’s now one of the driving forces in an agricultural revival movement, working hand in hand with other Cretan viticulturists to preserve the area's own rooted, pre-phylloxera vines (some over 150 years old) and of turning out some of the most compelling wines we tasted for this month’s club. In 2019, she set up her winery in Rethymno, a rugged, windy and high elevation area (well over 2000 feet in some spots), that was once home to around 170 acres of vineyards but has since shrunk to only about 30 acres. Iliana has access to nearly half of those remaining parcels, including those centenarian plots, and assists in farming everything organically. Working with ambient yeasts and stainless steel tanks for cool fermentations, she’s producing wines that feel as energetic and layered as the sun drenched terraces they come from. Her “Old Vines” Vidiano is leesy, textured yet electric, with a nose of ripe honeydew, preserved lemon, beeswax, fennel fronds and sea salt. The wine spends 12 months on its lees, giving it beautiful persistence and length. It’s an impressive wine.
On a somber note, the wild fires of last August damaged a large part of the centenarian vineyards in this area, and it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to recover. Bruno Sant'Anna