City of Origin:
Laurens M Hartman, Annette van Kampen
Total Annual Production:
Domaine Karanika is the leading sparkling wine producer in Greece. At Karanika a dedicated team produces the finest quality sparkling wines by traditional method, in total harmony with nature without any concession to the health of people and the earth. The Domaine is named after Laurens’ Greek Vlach family, Karanika Laurens Hartman Karanika with a degree in Economic History and trained as an oenologist (Davis and WSET) and his partner Annette van Kampen a skilled and stress resistant ‘traffic manager’ quit their management jobs in publishing in the Netherlands early 2004. As they were fed up with the commercial ‘Parkerised’ wines as if they were produced from a mold, they aimed to start a brand new, ambitious winery in the far North of Greece, in Amyntaio, the coldest of all winemaking areas in Greece, with the ambition to make world class organic sparkling wines from the local indigenous Xinomavro and the imported Assyrtiko. Sparkling wines that would mirror the current year, breath terroir and be naturally high in acidity. They set the bar very high by allowing themselves only completely natural ‘means and tools’ and at the same time demanding a whistle clean crystal clear and elegant sparkling character. At domaine Karanika we work in harmony with nature to protect the health of people and the earth while producing the finest quality wine. We believe that only in natural balance one can find true quality. Our second value is Less = More. Both in the vineyard as in the winery. We follow nature, instead of trying to control it. So if Nature decides to give less color to grapes we make more blanc de noir than rose, or if the climatological circumstances benefit phenolic ripeness, we decide to produce more red wine. Our winemaking philosophy is minimal handling of grapes and wines with few additions. That means: we try to avoid pumping to transport must and wines, but instead use gravity. Also we try not to filter or fine the wine and to add only sulphites in the final phases of the process. We only disgorge on Flower days (air) just after full moon, we transfer wines on Leaf days (water) just prior to full moon, etc etc. In the vineyard we do not use chemical fertilisers, fungicides or pesticides, but instead we plant cover crops, we make our own compost from horse manure, straw, hay, vineyard cuttings and grape skins and lees. To fight oidium and mildew we use the ‘homeopathic’ sprays, and we make our own etheric oils from oregano and oranges that we spray on the leaves during the ripening season. We work according to Maria Thun’s biodynamic calendar in the winery and vineyard. Because of this approach our wines ‘breathe terroir’, are crystal clear, very aromatic, with considerable length. No bombastic heavyweights, but straightforward and honest wines. We ‘try’ and ‘prefer’. We are not dogmatic. Our priority is the quality of the wine. So if no other choice we’ll do whatever it takes to make this perfect wine.
In Biodynamic terms Annette is the Earth element. Annette was raised on a mixed farm close to Rotterdam. She made clear to Laurens she never wanted to live the life of a farmer again. Well, that worked out well for her. In her professional career she was the spider in the web of many publishing companies. The ever so stable link between editors, advertising departments and the printers. Focused, honest, fair, totally dependable. The Rock. Today nothing changed. Without Annette there would be total chaos. Everything would be half finished. Everywhere loose ends. She is the cement between the stones. Her main focus is administration, exports, production, customer relations, suppliers and human resources. Too much work for 1 person. Of course she has the support of Anna (administration), Anastasia (Customer Relations) and Chryssa (Logistics). But most of all, she is Laurens’ soulmate and the perfect mother for their son George. Laurens would be qualified as the Air element but with strong Fire attributes. He is the thinker and the communicator. Very passionate, hot tempered, creative, the first to take initiative without thinking twice, impulsive. But between Laurens and Annette there is absolute natural balance. The one could not succeed without the other. After his Masters degree in Economic History at the University of Leiden Laurens worked in several positions in publishing, starting as financial reporter of a newspaper to Chief Operation Officer of Amsterdam University Press, an academic publisher. All his publishing years from 1989 to 2004 he could not suppress his love for traditional wines of North France (Loire, Champagne and Bourgogne). And to be more specific, the wines that were produced before the 1990’s. The wines he drunk as a student in the ‘80’s. Wines that were terroir driven, that were not manipulated into commercial wines. Where one would have bad years and divine years for wines. Wines with low alcohol, high acidity. Wines with real personality. Unfortunately, these wines were every year harder to find. Partly as result of global warming, but mostly because of the availability of a variety of tools and additives that the winemaker could use to completely manipulate and alter the quality of the wine into wines that he thought (or was told by a travelling consultant) the consumer would appreciate. This is what he learned during all the previous years when he studied to learn everything there is to know about quality wine (Davis California, WSET etc). So, early 2004, the emotions took the upper hand and Laurens decided (without really consulting Annette) to go making these wines himself. The irony is that this quest led him to Greece, the birth country of his mother Katerina Karanika, but also the place least known for low alcohol and high acidity wines. Except Amyntaio. No one knew about Amyntaio just yet. Laurens is the winemaker and the vineyardist. He makes the decisions in the vineyard that define the wines he creates. But he is not alone. Karanika’s sparkling wine adventure got a real professional turn when the Karanika extra Cuvee de Reserve was a recommended wine in Eleven Madison Park (in 2016 best restaurant of the world). Things got serious. Laurens and Annette decided to go all the way. Build a team that specializes in sparkling wines, research the different terroir in Amyntaio (7 villages) for their suitability for sparkling wine, invest in quality equipment and cellar space, increase production. Laurens was in desperate need of an extra winemaker. Of someone who could focus on vinifying the base wines from so many different plots, who could be the brainstorm partner Laurens so much needed. And suddenly on a rainy September, just before the beginning of harvest in 2017, there was this tiny, fragile but very determined oenologist, Lia, banging on our doors. Not taking no for an answer. She herself decided she would take up the challenge to bring order to the creative but chaotic winemaking mind of Laurens. But also order into the incredible complex procedure of the process of vinifying grapes from 100 different plots, from 7 villages, in 30 tanks, and blend them into 5 labels and 100.000 bottles. She started as his shadow. Today she is way more than that. She is faster than his shadow. She brings her own style, ideas and colors to the Karanika wines. The feminine touch if you like. In biodynamic terms she is the Water and Earth element of the team. An unexpected hero is one that was a silent voice in Laurens’ mind. In his DNA even. It was because of a nagging feeling all these years that something was missing in the vineyards. That there was no real balance in the vineyard. We are talking about Fanouri. The Karanika 5 year old mule. The Joker. When we started working with Fanouri in some of our vineyards we realized that the spirit of an equine is essential to the balance. The Hilling procedure under the vine in Autumn and Dehilling in Spring are not only beneficial for the vineyard (hoofs working the soil in the middle of the row, no exhaust fumes, no weight near the vines, no noise etc etc). The interaction of man and animal is beneficial for everyone involved. Fanouri stands for all the other animals at the farm. And why is Fanouri in Laurens’ DNA? Well, Laurens is the 10th in line of the Hartman family that works with horses. Around 1680 the first Hartman was a (German born) dragoon officer that took his horse to come to the help of the young Dutch Republic. His grandson Lauwrentius Hartman born in 1720, was a saddler and rigger. After him every generation until my grandfather (also Laurens) continued this craft. So yes. Horses are in our DNA.