Birds&Bats Wine Productions - Wines of Momentary Destination
But the shout out to friends and colleagues reaped some very positive responses and suddenly Birds&Bats had opportunities presented to them that they simply could not miss out on. Birds&Bats had now realised that they couldn't risk loosing another vintage and needed to start working on back up plans and expanding the single vintage portfolio. Finding places and producers that would allow them in and buy up ferments/grapes/wine was needed and the week of adversity now glinted with a silver lining.
An old Plumpton College friend and colleague put them in touch with a couple of people on a little known Greek island called Chios, nine miles off the mainland of Turkey. Apparently the people had recently started making wine again on the island and were interested in having us over to see what could be worked out.
"There is considerable mention in ancient times of the trade of one luxury item from Chios, the famous, superior quality Ariousian wine. It was produced in small quantities in the Northwest side of the island. Because of it's rarity, it acquired an extraordinary reputation, which it maintained for at least five centuries. In the age of Socrates, one bottle of Ariosian wine cost between seven and fourteen drachms at the time when the daily wage was one drachm. Plutarch writes that only the well-to-do drank it as a mark of luxury. Julius Cesar himself, in his triumph treated his guests to 100 gallons of Ariousian, in what was considered a display of incredible opulence.
The methods the Chians followed for marketing Ariousian wine are indicative of their commercial genius. They stamped their amphorae with the seal of the Chian sphinx to guarantee the wines authenticity and quality. Because it was so expensive, they offered it in a variety of packaging, including small flasks, to make it accessible to the greatest number of people. Eventually, Ariousian wine ended up being sold like medicine." (Excerpt from a book found in a house in Turkey)
It is this ancient place of production that Birds&Bats found themselves in during the first days of December 2014. There they met with the current, and new producers of the fabled Ariousian wine, Dimitrios and Anna. These two friends' long lasting friendship is paired with the desire and passion to revive the islands once famous and valuable product and they began the vineyard planting in 2006 and the modern Ariousous Winery in 2009, very much in the same location as the ancients had.
Cultivating the indigenous and completely unique to Chios red grape varieties Chiotiko Krasero & Agiannitis, in a wholly organic and biodynamic way, this pair have rekindled a once thriving and valuable commodity for the island.
Birds&Bats came with the intention to find some wine to help bolster their volumes following the difficulties in Croatia. The attraction of the unique history and development of the wine on the island was intriguing and it seemed the perfect place to begin expanding the portfolio of wines, plus go on another adventure!
Originally seeking out a white, the white wines produced at Ariousous are made with Assyrtiko, a variety made famous for it's wines from Santorini island. Plus Athiri, slightly more obscure variety, but also not indigenous. The whites are fresh and textured, but were in the stages of post fermentation and clearly needed some time to rest. Birds&Bats needed something ready and engaging. Birds was hoping for some previous years white that might have been aged in barrel, a process that the winemaker Dimitrios said he plans in the future, but alas, not at this time. Indigenous grapes also held a much stronger appeal, as to get hold of something completely unique would be an absolute treat. So Birds&Bats dove into the cellar to check out the reds !
Standing imposingly were a line of 500 litre puncheons containing the wines from 2011. These wines were ready (the 2012 barrels were in an inbetween-y stage (official winemaker terminology) and the 2013 were far from settled) and the winged duo were very pleased with what they were tasting. Expressing their interest in the barrels, Dimitrios was understanding in the situation and happy for them to create their own blend from the 2011 vintage. After all, the wine was ready.
Birds&Bats isolated four barrels they thought interesting and dynamic enough to create a new blend. Glass beakers and measuring tubes out. Blending was underway. Eventually, omitting one barrel, three were decided upon to create the new Birds&Bats blend.
This rare red will be released in the UK in the New Year so whilst the anticipation builds, get your Chrimbo on.