Nikos Karatzas is an ambitious new generation Greek winemaker. After first studying in Bordeaux and working at a very young age as the head winemaker of the well-known Ktima Pavlidis, he decided to take on a new challenge, and in 2015 he founded the Oenops winery in the Drama region of North Macedonia, Greece. Nikos is proud of his roots and the native varieties of his country, and with his own passion he has managed to quickly convince many other experts in the wine industry of the potential of Greek wines. In his previous winery, Nikos worked a lot with international varieties, but at Oenopsis, he wants to focus on bringing out top-quality and carefully managed Greek grapes, which produce unique wines that bring out the terroir of their region.
Nikos' time is spent along the roads, as during the year he travels around looking for and meeting ambitious farmers around Drama, Macedonia and the rest of Greece. This Lord, who travels 50,000 kilometers a year, could best be described as a micro-négociant, working together with people who are as passionate about wine and viticulture as he is. In particular, Nikos is interested in old orchards that are cultivated using organic methods. He also looks for vineyards that, either due to their high location or their proximity to the sea, enjoy a cool microclimate, which tastes like a noticeable freshness in the final wines.
The range of native Greek varieties in Oenops production is remarkable. Malagousia, Assyrtiko, Vidiano, Kidonitsa, Rodit, Xinomavro, Limniona, Mavroud and Mavrodafni are used in the wines. The location of the nurseries in several areas brings its challenges to the project. For example, the Xinomavro orchards are located in four different regions of origin, Naoussa, Amyntaio, Rapsan and Goumenissa. Although searching for grapes and orchards takes a lot of time, it makes it possible to choose the highest quality ingredients for Oenops wines.
Nikos wines are made in an old pie factory right next to Drama in the eastern part of Macedonia, which, like all of northern Greece, is an extremely old wine-producing region. Nikos has acquired cement and steel tanks, some old oak barrels and clay amphorae for his use. When making wines, Nikos does not want his own handprint to cover the work in the orchards, so the wines are manipulated as little as possible. Small fermentation vessels allow the grapes of each vineyard to be vinified separately, and the final wine may require up to thirty separate micro-fermentations. Work in the cellar takes time, but careful work can be seen in the quality of the wines more and more every year.
Among Viinitie's selections, there is a white wine made from Vidiano, the island's original variety from Crete, which according to Nikos is one of the most interesting Greek varieties. Like Chardonnay, Vidiano adapts to many types of winemaking, and the textural Vidiano coming from the high-altitude orchards of Oenops is partly made in steel, partly in oak and partly in amphora. Among Oenops' red wine selections, there is a wine made from Limniona, a red wine variety declared as the rising star of Greece, matured in amphorae, and two different Xinomavros, one of which is made completely without the addition of sulfur dioxide.
The farm's annual production is around 120,000 bottles.