Domaine Karanika was founded by husband & wife team Laurens Hartman and Annette van Kampen. Although Laurens’ mother is Greek, both he and Annette had lived all their life in the Netherlands. During their professional city-dwelling days, they became entranced with wine. Laurens studied some qualifications in WSET before both began down the path of oenology (Laurens) and viticulture (Annette). When it came time to realise their new life in wine, they searched the globe looking for the ideal area to raise their family and produce the wines they love. In fact they came mighty close to moving to Australia, however, it was Laurens’ heritage and the dynamic Xinomavro grape which captured their imagination and ultimately led to their move to Greece. More specifically, the alluvial plateau of Amyndeon in the north-western mountainous part of the country.
Here, flanked by mountains and surrounded by four lakes, they acquired four vineyards. 3 hectares of vines were planted on the property where their winery & home stands and consists of Assytiko, Limniona & Cabernet Sauvignon. The remaining three vineyards are scattered, but consist of around 1.5 hectares of old Xinomavro vines, mostly ranging from 25 to 45 years of age. The crowning jewel amongst them, is a 0.25 hectare vineyard of 100-year-old-vines, planted when the area was under Turkish occupation.
Laurens & Annette farm their vineyards organically and are utilising bio-dynamic practices. Any fruit sourced outside of their farm, they work with the growers to ensure they are obtaining top-quality, organically grown grapes.
The three story winery was designed by Laurens himself and utilises gravity at all stages of the winemaking process. Ferments are started and carried through the entire process with native yeasts. Extremely low sulphur additions are used to stabilise the wine and the execution of certain aspects of the winemaking process are made according to the phases of the moon, which results in a lessor need for ‘interference’.
We are currently working with three wines from this exciting Domaine. Firstly an Assyrtiko grown at 650 metres above sea level and here the grapes take a month longer to ripen than on their ancestral soil of Santorini. This results in more aromatics, vibrant fruit and a cool climate clarity. The second is a red made of 50% old vine Xinomavro & 50% Limniona. Limniona is a rare variety originally from Tyrnavos on mainland Greece, about 2 hours south, south east of Amyndeon. It produces huge grapes with bunches weighing in at about 1 kilo each. Although the grapes have thick skins, the wines produced have very soft tannins and a very pretty fruit profile. Limniona is traditionally found co-planted with Xinomavro and thus you’ll find very few varietal bottlings. At Domaine Karanika, Limniona adds a refreshing purity and soft, silky touch to their Xinomavro.
And of course the Karanika Brut Speciale, a Blanc de Noir Xinomavro which is profoundly good. Laurens has worked at numerous Champagne houses and produces this wine with a fanatical and laborious attention to detail. Hand riddled, disgorged, dosed and corked one bottle at a time. Champagnes rarely get this much attention.
‘And talking of pink wines: against all expectation I taste a sparkling xinomavro at the tiny, family-owned Karanika winery in Amyndeon that is truly excellent. Used in much the same way as pinot noir in champagne, this organically grown and hand-made brut cuvee speciale was a 2010 vintage aged on lees for 12 months. With a shrug of the shoulders, Karanika’s owner and winemaker Laurens Hartman says: ”No matter how hard the crisis hits, we have sparkling wine every day!”’ - Huon Hooke – SMH