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The goddess of love is said to have risen from the foam of the sea before Cyprus. Wine lovers, however, are drawn to the mountains: in the rugged Tróodos Mountains, dedicated winegrowers press amazing wines.

Cyprus' vineyards are up to 1500 metres above sea level.

People go to Cyprus for the most unlikely reasons. One of them just told me that the most beautiful old-timer buses are to be found here. 40-year-old vehicles of the English brand Bedford, even more beautiful than those on Malta. Lovers of antiquity make a pilgrimage to Paphos to admire the remains of villas from Roman times with magnificent floor mosaics - a particularly well-preserved one shows Dionysus together with the Attic king Ikarios, "the first secular wine drinker". Gourmets rave about Cypriot cuisine, which skilfully balances on the fine line between Orient and Occident. The recipes have such exotic-sounding names as "Imam Bayíldí", in German "Der Imam fällt in Fainting". And now this: A local wine merchant praises a Cabernet Sauvignon from Cyprus as the ultimate discovery.

With the bottle on the table, a heretical question is raised: Is this necessary? Another Cabernet from a wine country that, God knows, has enough varieties of its own? To anticipate the answer: Yes, it has to be. Sophocles Vlassides is the name of the winemaker. The 32-year-old studied oenology at the renowned University of Davis in California. In 1998, he returned to Cyprus, worked as a consultant and then founded his own business: a "garage winery" based on the Californian model. His '99 Cabernet Sauvignon, however, shows all the characteristics of a classic Bordeaux: it is a berry-spicy wine with a fleshy, dense structure.

There is no question that this island, which has rested for too long on the dusty glory of its 4000-year wine history, needs such wines. They are door openers. Suddenly there is interest in the new generation of Cypriot winemakers and their mysterious terroirs in the Tróodos Mountains, where grapes ripen at dizzying heights of up to 1500 metres above sea level.

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