Maratheftiko and Commandaria Schotts > Cyprus wines

Choosing the right glass for serving wine is as important as it is fun

Pliny (23-79 AD) wrote about gold and silver drinking vessels being abandoned in favour of glass, which were often priced as high as those they replaced. Bonifacio Veronese’s 16th century ‘Last Supper’ includes modern style wine glasses with a stem and foot.

The oldest surviving European wine glasses with a stem and foot are 15th century enameled goblets (a goblet is a glass holding more than four ounces of liquid). Quality crystal wine glasses were being produced in France near the end of the 18th century, while wine glasses during the 19th century were often produced in sets, with a dozen each for port and sherry, burgundy and claret, champagne and liqueur glasses.

A single melting furnace in 1872 in Zwiesel near the Bavarian forest was the beginning of the glassmaking industry, with which this small town is still associated. Today, this is a successful business owing its fortunes to a combination of craftsmanship handed down from generation to generation and a progressive approach to materials and technology. This medium-sized company has earned worldwide recognition for the beauty and quality of its products. 

The Bavarians are masters in making wine glasses and, like their rivals Riedel of Austria, wished to hold a workshop to find the right glass for Commandaria and our indigenous grape variety, Maratheftiko. I have recently attended an event organized by the Cyprus Vines Council and Cyprus Sommelier Association. The venue was the luxury, five-star Intercontinental Aphrodite Hills resort. The judges were mainly winemakers of Maratheftiko and Commandaria as well as members of the Sommelier Association and wine journalists. The event was orchestrated by Giuseppe Vaccarini, Director of the International Sommelier Association.

The judges had to decide which two glasses from two rounds of five were best for the wine and reflected its characteristics. In the final round, the process was repeated with the four best and the glass model that received the most points was selected as the glass for Maratheftiko and Commandaria. After two and half hours, the judges decided on a Top Ten line code number 8432/130 (selling price at £3.35) for Maratheftiko and Diva code number 8015/4 (selling price £2.55) for our precious Commandaria.

Choosing wine glasses, also known as stemware, to reflect both the best of the wine and your own personal taste is a bit tiring and tricky, but it is fun. The shape, size and colour of a wine glass can dramatically alter your perception of the wine that’s contained in it. My only comment on this important event was that, concerning Maratheftiko, I believe that finding a glass at this stage was a bit premature. Although this is the most promising indigenous grape variety we still do not know how it will develop and what style and characteristics it will adopt. Then we might need to repeat the process.

Wines of the week > 2004 Kamanterena Maratheftiko, Pafos Regional, Alcohol Volume 13%. A bit of a surprise this wine as I was not expecting it so soon. Dark garnet colour, big, forward black fruit scent with intriguing aromatics, mountain herbs and wood. It leads into a tart, heavy tannic flavour with some black cherry fruit which opens up after time in the glass. It is young yet and surely it will develop with time in the bottle.

2002 Barba Yiannis, Vouni Panayias, Panayia, Pafos, Maratheftiko, Alcohol volume 12.5%. This silver medal winner at the 1st Cyprus Competition is named after the late father of Andreas Kyriakides, owner and winemaker of Vouni Panayias winery. The wine has a dark, slightly hazy ruby colour. Ripe blackcurrant, cherry/berry and aromatic cedar, a big and complex aroma leaps from the glass. Fruit ripe flavours, consistent with the nose, firm tannins present but cloaked by the forward fruit. Youthful, accessible, it will benefit from further ageing. Maratheftiko should be treated like Cabernet Sauvignon, served at 18degr C with the finer cuts of lamb, beef, venison and of course duck, pasta with meat sauce and strong cheese.