Stowell’s Guide to the Wines and Wineries of Cyprus
Interview with matthew stowell ON CYPRIOT WINE
Cypriot Wine – At long last, a book has been written as the definitive guide to the Wines and Wineries of Cyprus! As Cypriot wineries develop rapidly and continue to produce outstanding wines, it is the perfect time to enjoy a comprehensive guide containing all the information for the wine lover in Cyprus. Stowell’s Guide to the Wines & Wineries of Cyprus is written by the American writer, Matthew Stowell. In this article, we speak with Matthew about his writing career, love of wine, the wineries he respects in Cyprus and his favourite restaurants on the Island.
Matthew has enjoyed a long career in the world of writing about wine, gastronomic subjects, the arts and much more. He grew up in Massachusetts and Virginia and, straight after high school, entered the army as a combat medic but soon became involved in the anti-Vietnam-War movement and was eventually imprisoned in the US for his activities for six months before being discharged. His writing career started in America, where he wrote many articles on the arts for newspapers in Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. During that time, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.
In 1997 he met and married his Cypriot wife, and in 2005 relocated from New York to Cyprus. During his time in Cyprus, he has written extensively for national publications on wine, restaurants and food. He has worked as the Editor of Gourmet Magazine and has also written two novels. Last year, after being repeatedly asked and seeing the need for a complete Guide to Wines for Cyprus, he published Stowell’s Guide.
Portrait Photo (above) is by Nicos Louca, Louca Photographic Studio, Nicosia
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO WRITE ABOUT CYPRIOT WINE & WINERIES?
I had been writing about wine in both Virginia and Cyprus for many years. There was a very good guide on Cypriot wines from Yiannos Constantinou, but it went out of print, so there was nothing available in Cyprus in recent years. I know most of the winemakers on the Island and felt there was a gap in the market. I also firmly believe that all the Winery owners’ work deserves to be celebrated and taken to a larger global audience through my book.
HOW HAS YOUR GUIDE TO CYPRIOT WINE BEEN RECEIVED?
The book has been very well received here in Cyprus, the UK and Israel. The winemakers, especially, have been very generous in their praise and support.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED WINE?
Yes, I grew up drinking wine with dinner. My father’s side of the family is descended from a long line (in the UK) of wine merchants and exporters. My mother’s family is originally from France, where, as everyone knows, wine is an essential element of daily life.
HOW DID YOU MAKE A CAREER IN WINE?
Wine has had a significant presence, at every vital moment, in my life. After working for a wine distributor and then a boutique winery, where I was involved in every aspect of the process, from the vineyard to the bottle, I began writing about wine for two publications in Virginia, one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the US. I then wrote more than one hundred articles for various publications in Cyprus. I had the chance, starting in 2006, to learn from some of the most important pioneering winemakers in Cyprus, including, Akis and Marcos Zambartas, Costas Tsiakkas, Theodoro Fikardos, Sophocles Vlassides, Pambos Argyrides, the Kyriakides brothers at Vasilikon and Minas Mina at Kyperounda.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A SPECIFIC CYPRIOT WINE AND PAIR IT WITH A COMPLEMENTARY FOOD?
There are just too many excellent wines in Cyprus to single out just one. Cypriot winemakers are moving fast, getting better and better with more variety and special bottlings every year. However, I always love a rich Cypriot Maratheftiko wine to accompany a steak from the grill, Afelia or Kleftiko, with a cheese plate that includes at least Cheddar, Feta and Gorgonzola.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE FOR CYPRIOT WINE?
It will continue to improve with many wines, especially the reds, revealing genuine ageing potential, and the trend to focus on indigenous grape varieties, will become even more widespread. Some say, it must expand internationally, but this is difficult because most Cypriot wineries are boutique-sized and can’t meet the volume demands of importers in larger countries. It is true to say that there is some exporting going on, which is crucial because it helps spread the word about the high quality of Cypriot wine, but it will never be done on a large scale. More Cypriots, especially the younger generations will come to appreciate their wines, which will bring continued and longer-lasting success to the wine industry here.
ANY PARTICULAR WINERIES IN CYPRUS TO MENTION?
There are always at least one or two wines I like from all of the wineries in Cyprus. Still, if forced, I would have to say the top consistently high-quality wineries, in alphabetical order, are Aes Ambelis, Argyrides, Dafermou, Ezousa, Fikardos, Kyperounda, Nicolaides, Olympus, Santa Irene, Tsiakkas, Vasilikon, Vlassides, Vouni Panayia and Zambartas.
WHAT FOOD AND WINE TRENDS DO YOU SEE UNFOLDING AT THE MOMENT?
I don’t really follow the trends, but I’ve noticed that more people recommend Cypriot Rosés, which are some of the best-produced in the Mediterranean, as an accompaniment to many styles of cuisine, especially the various Asian cuisines.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN CYPRUS?
I have several favourites. For seafood, I love Limanaki at the Amathus Beach Hotel; when I’m feeling flush, Petroktisto near the Ajax Hotel in Limassol and The Fisherman’s House in Limassol. In Nicosia, Latsi Restaurant, and for mussels, Brasserie Au Bon Plaisir. In Latchi, I enjoy Souli Beach Hotel. For traditional Cypriot food, I love Evroulla’s in Nicosia, Estia and Laona in Paphos, Ariadne’s near Vasa, Maria’s in Vavatsina near Lefkara, and most especially, Fytos Grill House, just past Vasilikon Winery in Kathikas. I’m also quite addicted to the Syrian Arab Friendship Club in Nicosia and Limassol. I’m afraid I don’t know the Larnaca restaurants at all.
WHAT WAS THE LAST WINERY YOU VISITED?
The last winery I visited was Santa Irene in Farmakas, where the great Daniel Anastasis, presides with flair and endless enthusiasm. He is making excellent wine, and his Sunday lunch buffets are wonderful.
TELL US ABOUT THE BOOK.
It is a paperback guide that provides basic information about the history of wine in Cyprus, its indigenous grape varieties, short profiles of forty-eight different wineries and my selections from each winery as to personal favourite, as well as the best value for money. The last half of the book is given to feature articles I have published about individual Cypriot winemakers, Commandaria, pairing wine with food, the women of Cyprus wine, the joys of our local rosés and other topics. The next edition will be updated to include all the new wineries that have started in the past 18 months.
WHERE CAN WE BUY A COPY?
The book is available on Amazon in the US, UK, Germany, etc. Amazon.de seems to be the most efficient for delivery to Cyprus. To purchase Stowell’s Guide to Wines and Wineries in Cyprus, click here to view on Amazon.
IN SHOPS IN CYPRUS:
- Nicosia: Moufflon, Hellas, Soloneion
- Larnaca: Academic & General Bookshop
- Limassol: All three Kyriakou bookshops
- Paphos: KM Kyriakou Fullpage Bookshop
IN WINERIES IN CYPRUS:
It is also available at many wineries, including Vasilikon, Kyperounda, Zambartas, Tsiakkas, Argyrides, Santa Irene, Vlassides, Agia Mavri, Ezousa, Aes Ambelis and Olympus.
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Published by Cyprus in Style Magazine – July 2021
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