Domaine Karanika was founded by Laurens M. Hartman and Annette van Kampen. Laurens is the son of a Greek mother and a Dutch father. Both he and his wife Annette have lived all their life in the Netherlands and had worked for about 15 years in various management positions in publishing before they decided one day to pursue their dream: to produce a sparkling that rivals the best champagnes.
Over the years, they were trained in winemaking, oenology and viticulture in Europe and the US. They seriously considered all options, from Australia to Germany, but their love for the amazing Xinomavro variety led them to Amyndeo in Greece. With no family attachments in Amyndeo, it was a complete deliberate choice.
Karanika works the vineyards in a traditional and organic way with some elements of biodynamics. This means no use of synthetic fertilizers, nor aggressive chemical pesticides.
Diseases – if any – are dealt with by using of ‘homeopathic’ sprays. The soil is revitalized with the use of cover crops, like clover and peas, and animal compost from the neighbour shepherd. Composted grape pomace, a natural grape by-product, as well as fresh pomace is used to increase soil fertility.
The thermo-isolated Karanika winery is a three-storey, gravity-flow building situated between the villages of Amyndeo, Vegora and Levea, on a slope at the shores of lake Vegoritis. The well-thought-out design of the building allows the wines to be made without pumps and filters. The activities in the vineyards and the winery follow the biodynamic calendar of Maria Thun.
It didn’t take long before Karanika’s world-class sparkling wines attracted attention. Here is an extract of what Tom Stevenson – widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on Champagne and Sparkling – had to say : “seldom have I come across any artisanal sparkling wine that is as polished as Hartman’s 2010-based second release of Domaine Karanika Xinomavro Brut. It has a silky-smooth mousse that most Champenois would die for… it is already the best sparkling wine produced in Greece”.
The Amyndeo Terroir
Amyndeo or Amyntaio, named after the grandfather of Alexander the Great, is an area in the far north west of Greece, close to the borders of Albania and North Macedonia.
Around 650 meters above sea level, it lies on the far side of Mount Vermio, blocked off from the influence of the Aegean. These features of Amyndeo’s setting cause the local climate to be entirely continental, though moderated somewhat by the influence of Lake Vegoritis, pushing back the Xinomavro harvest for red wine to mid-October.
Amyndeo has one of the coolest climates of all the wine-producing regions of Greece. Soil tends to be sandy clay around Xinonero, on the slopes west of Amydeon, and sandy loam around Ayios Panteleimonas, on the plain area just west of lake Petron – all with considerable variations in calcium content from vineyard to vineyard.