WHITE AND PINK GRAPE VARIETIES
Important floral-scented grape variety of Santorini, contributing, together with Assyrtiko, to the production of the appellation's dry white wine as well as to the well-known "Vinsanto" sweet wine.
Top quality grape variety that produces wines with crisp acidity and a distinctive mineral profile. It is widely grown in Greece and particularly in its Santorinian homeland, where it is responsible for a wide range of types and styles, either as a single varietal or in blends with other grape varieties. It has a good affinity to oak and ability to age beautifully, gaining more depth and aromatic complexity. The wines from the Island of Santorini tend to be less aromatic with rather moderate level of fruit and more mineral and austere than those from the mainland.
Aegean Sea grape variety, producing elegant, soft textured wines. It is often used for blending with the more angular Assyrtiko. Good examples can be found on the island of Rhodes, which has a long, bottle-fermented sparkling wine tradition.
It is the most important white grape grown around Zitsa in the Epirus in northwest Greece. The wines are low in alcohol, light-bodied, with lemony aroma and high acidity. In terms of style, they can be dry or off-dry, sparkling, semi - or slightly sparkling. Good examples show elegance and finesse.
Idiosyncratic and highly aromatic white grape variety recently rediscovered and revived all over Greece, producing wines full of character, with moderate acidity and solid structure. Having a rich aromatic spectrum of primary fruit, floral notes and green spices, make it a successful blending partner with Assyrtiko. Often, it is aged in oak barrels.
Although a deep pink- skinned grape variety, it is used to make perfumed white wines with aromas reminiscent of rose petals, citrus blossoms and Turkish delights. Its refreshing acidity and elegance makes it ideal for enjoying on its own as an aperitif. Wines from the mountainous plateau of Mantinia in the Peloponnese can be very expressive.
Strongly perfumed grapes grown around Greece for several centuries. Two of the grape's most famous expressions are the sweet wines of Samos and Limnos. Muscat of Samos is made of Muscat - petits grains on the steep terraced vineyards of the island and is made in several different types and styles. Whatever its style, from bone dry to sun-dried, naturally sweet or fortified, without aging or matured in big wooden barrels, they all show potential and top quality. The dessert versions are clearly some of the greatest sweet wines of the world. The other Muscat variety, Muscat of Alexandria found on Limnos, tends to be more floral and lighter than those of Samos.
The flagship white grape variety of the Ionian island of Cephalonia and one of the noblest grape varieties of Greece. It is notable for its powerful wines of excellent quality, distinctive lemony acidity, and depth of fruit.
A slightly pink-skinned grape variety grown all over the Peloponnese and particularly in Patras, producing wines with a refreshing acidity and broad palate with intense fruity and floral aromas reminiscent of ripe melon, citrus fruit and blossoms. Often, it is used together with Savatiano in the production of the traditional wine "Retsina".
The most widely planted white grape variety of Attica and Central Greece. Although it is the most common ingredient of Retsina, Savatiano is capable of producing wines with aromatic intensity and naturally balance. Often it is blended with Assyrtiko or Roditis to raise the naturally low levels of acidity.
Vilana is the principal grape variety of the island of Crete, producing spicy wines with fruity and floral notes, medium body and a quite refreshing palate. The appellation of Peza in the prefecture of Iraklio is dedicated exclusively, as far as white wines are concerned, to the production of Vilana.
RED GRAPE VARIETIES
Agiorgitiko literally means the grape of St. George. It gives deeply colored wines that display a rich red fruit and sweet spices, nose, and palate, making it one of the most pleasing and enjoyable Greek reds. It can be forward and easy drinking even if it is young, being neither too tannic nor too fat. It is capable of producing a large range of styles, from fruity roses, nouveau style wines, soft and medium-bodied up to concentrated, age-worthy reds. The Nemea village in the Peloponnese is the epicenter of Agiorgitiko production and where most top quality examples are made. Some excellent sun dried sweet variations can also be found.
Kotsifali can be easily described as a typical hot Mediterranean red grape, with pale color, intense red fruit aromas, high alcohol and low acidity. The variety is grown all over Crete and is best blended with the more tannic Mandilaria.
Ancient Cretan grape variety, used for the production of both dry and sweet wines. The sun-dried, sweet versions display more character and flair, with concentrated complex dried-fruit aromas. However, the best dry examples are top quality and able to age for more than a decade.
Limnio is one of the oldest cultivated grape varieties in Greece and the first mentioned by ancient historians. Native to the Island of Limnos, is also grown in Macedonia and Thrace, producing wines full of aromas of herbs, undergrowth and small berries, although being rather moderate in tannin, color, body and acidity. Blends with other varietals have been very successful.
Mandilaria is also called Mandilari. The wines produced are extremely intense in color, which is one the reasons that is used as a coloring agent in many wines around the Aegean Sea and particularly with Crete's other important red varietal, Kotsifali. Mandilaria can be exceptionally high in tannins.
Mavrodaphne is a deeply pigmented, tannic grape, which is grown traditionally around Patras in the Peloponnese and in many Ionian Islands. The variety is mostly associated with fortified sweet wines made in the style of Port. The best examples can be extremely concentrated and complex, with aromas and flavors reminiscent of spices, botanical nuances and ripe primary fruit. Exceptionally good dry versions can also found.
Xinomavro is one of the most promising red varieties of Greece and one of the noblest of southern Europe. The traditionally made wines can be pale in color with red fruit aromas, vegetal notes, high acidity and high tannins. Those made in a more modern style can be far more intense in color, displaying more primary fruit aromas and flavors and being less tannic. It is widely grown in central and western Macedonia in appellations such as Naoussa, Goumenissa, Amynteo and Rapsani as single varietal or together with other native grapes. Xinomavro is capable of wines that not only develop with aging, but improve over a period of time of several decades. Naoussa is dedicated entirely to Xinomavro and produces some of the best examples, while Amynteo, when compared to Naoussa, is usually lighter, not as tannic, but more floral. Amynteo produces significant quantities of rose still and sparkling wines.