White Grape Varieties
Aidani: It can found on Santorini and other Aegean islands. Flowery bouquet.
Assyrtiko: This variety, one of Greece's best, is found on the
Aegean islands, especially Santorini. It covers about 65% of this volcanic island's plantings and is the base for the production of the Appellation of Origin (A.O.) Santorini. Its high acidity is sometimes ameliorated with the addition of Savatiano. The wines have a fruity taste and come in many styles.
Athiri: It is grown mainly in the Aegean but has presence in northern Greece and the Peloponnese. A.O. Rhodes is produced by this grape and is usually blended with Assyrtiko.
Debina: An indigenous variety found in Zitsa, Epirus which produces dry and sparkling wines (A.O. Zitsa). The area's high altitude gives a distinct freshness and fruity aromas to the wines.
Kakotrigis: A variety unique to southern Corfu.
Lagorthi: A highly promising variety located in the northwestern Peloponnese which unfortunately is not widely planted.
Malvazia: This variety is found today on the island of Paros in small quantities. If one traces its history, it can be found during the middle ages as a sweet wine, largely exported from Crete. The name comes from the Venetians who transformed the name of Monemvasia, a coastal town on the eastern Peloponnese, to Malvazia.
Moshofilero: It produces "Blanc de Gris" wines as the grape has
a pinkish color. The German counterpart is Gerwutztraminer. This fine variety grows at high altitudes (600m) in central Peloponnese. The A.O. Mantinia has a distinct fruity bouquet with high acidity.
Muscat: There is a varietal aroma in these wines which are produced in a range of styles from dry to dessert wines. It is grown on Cephalonia, Rhodes, Samos and in Patra and it gives these areas one of their A.O. wines.
Robola: A variety with a rich aroma which is found mainly on the island of Cephalonia and is expensive to buy.
Roditis: This variety can be found in most of the Greek wine regions and its grape skin is either white or light red. It produces the Patra and Anhialos A.O.. Roditis' quality increases with the altitude of the region it is grown at.
Savatiano: Due to its light taste it has been used mainly in the production of Retsina. However, there has been a dramatic change in this wine's character due to advances in technology and techniques. It is the commonest variety to be found in Attica and Euboea and amounts to about 15% of Greece's wine grapes.
Sideritis: A variety found in the northern Peloponnese close to Patra.
Tsaoussi: This grape is grown on the island of Cephalonia and is blended with the Robola variety.
Vertzami: A low profile variety found mainly on Lefkada.
Vidiano: The best results are when this Cretan variety is grown at high altitudes.
Villana: This is central and eastern Crete's main white variety and fully comprises the A.O. Peza. One can usually detect floral tones in these wines.
Other white grape varieties grown in Greece which are widely cultivated around the world are: Chardonnay, Semillion, Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc. Chardonnay is probably the most popular with plantings all over Greece. As it is a variety that is best married with oak, it is usually aged in oak barrels and sometimes fermented in them.
Red Grape Varieties
Aghiorgitiko: The etymology of the name is the variety which comes from the town of St. George which today is called Nemea. A grape unique to this area and southern Greece's best. As its
attributes change with the altitude, the styles and character vary. The young wines have a fruity nose to them and if they are barrel aged a rich bouquet and full body is unveiled.
Kotsifali: The variety is unique to Archanes and Peza. Due to its sweetness and lack of color it is blended with the Mandilaria variety.
Krasato: It is part of the A.O. Rapsani in Thessaly and is an indigenous variety.
Liatiko: This variety was the base for the sweet wine Malvazia. Today it is cultivated in central and eastern Crete and the Cyclades and produces the A.O. Dafnes and Sitia. Its name is probably derived from the Greek word for the month of July, when these grapes ripen.
Limnio: A variety which dates back to ancient Greece and is native to the island of Limnos where it is referred to as Kalambaki. It is also
cultivated in Chalkidiki and is the backbone for the A.O. Playies Melitona. It produces a deep color with distinct varietal aromas.
Mandilaria: A fairly common variety on the Aegean
islands and Crete. It is part of the A.O. Paros, Archanes, Peza and solely responsible for the A.O. Rhodes, where it is also called Amorgiano.
Mavrodaphne: A unique variety to Achaia and Cephalonia that produces sweet wines which are usually barrel aged for many years.
Messenikola: This variety is grown in the area bearing the same name in Thessaly. The A.O. Messenikola was established in 1994.
Negoska: It is the lesser part of the A.O. Goumenissa, and lowers Xynomavro's acidity and tannins when vinified together.
Stavroto: It is the third variety of A.O. Rapsani and is also called ambelakiotiko.
Sykiotis: It comprises about 10% of Anhialos wine grape cultivations and produces a dry wine.
Xynomavro: As with Aghiorgitiko, this variety is considered
Greece's best. It produces A.O. Naoussa and Amindeo and is the backbone to A.O. Goumenissa and Rapsani. Barrel aging improves its quality and the wines are of high acidity, bright color and rich aromas.
Other red varieties grown in Greece and the rest of the world are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Rouge, Refosco, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah. Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the wine with the most distinct varietal aroma and deserves oak barrels to age in. The Grenache variety has a high alcohol potential. Refosco can be found in the western Peloponnese and has a ruby color.
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