A Sommelier’s Guide to Greece’s Most Exclusive Grape Varieties

Best Greek Sommelier for 2019, Aris Sklavenitis offers his recommendations for rare, lesser-known indigenous Greek varieties: an exciting, unexplored territory for wine lovers.


Aspro Potamisi white

Mykonos, Cyclades

The Aspro Potamisi variety can be found in the Cyclades, on islands such as Tinos and Mykonos. Its potential as a variety is still unknown, as its vinification remains very limited. Giorgos Xydakis, of Xydakis Microwinery in Mykonos, is a dentist by profession; since 2001, he has been working – initially as an amateur – with local varieties, including the Aspro Potamisi, with the aim of reviving them. It has ripe stone fruit and flower aromas complemented by mineral flavors, and its acidity is intense. It pairs well with lemon chicken and potatoes with rosemary.

Monemvasia

Paros, Cyclades

The Monemvasia variety is produced far from the Peloponnese (where the town of Monemvasia is located), cultivated on the island of Paros and, more specifically, at the Moraitis Winery, which revived this low-yielding variety some years ago. Monemvasia is the only white variety used in their white, red and sweet PDO (protected designation of origin) wines. Wines produced from it are medium-bodied, with notes of citrus and white fruit, mineral flavors and a refreshing acidity – best enjoyed along with white fish.

Serifiotiko

Syros, Cyclades

This is another Cycladic variety which produces quality white wines, despite its reddish color. The Serifiotiko grape is vinified mainly on the island of Serifos, but also on other Cycladic islands. At Syros Winery on Syros island, Nikolaos Hatzakis produces excellent wines with this variety, such as Sheriff Fatman, which possesses aromas of green fruit, citrus and herbs. It is a medium-bodied, mildly acidic wine. Pair it with intense white cheeses such as the pungent Andros Volaki.

Negoska

Goumenissa, Central Macedonia

Negoska is a red variety used, along with Xinomavro, in the production of Goumenissa PDO wines. It is difficult to manage but has great potential for evolution. The family-owned Chatzivaritis Estate has been making high quality wines for many years, the Negoska Carbonic (produced using carbonic maceration) being one of them. This slightly foaming, crisp, medium-bodied wine possesses aromas of red fruit, spice and herbs. Pair it with spicy meatballs in tomato sauce.

Goustolidi

Zakynthos, Ionian

The Goustolidi – or Vostylidi – variety is cultivated in the Ionian Islands and in the Peloponnese. Grampsas Winery is one of the first to have worked with this variety. Novita is a wine that carries aromas of nuts and citrus fruit and has a strong herbal character. It is well-structured and highly acidic. Enjoy it with a fricassee.

Tsaousi,

Kefalonia, Ionian

Tsaousi is a white variety found on the coasts of the Ionian Sea and – less frequently – in northern Greece. Sclavos Winery in Kefalonia produces wine from Tsaousi grapes, among other indigenous varieties. Characterized by its aromas of tropical fruit, flowers, herbs and its minerality, it has a refreshing acidity and a long aftertaste. Combine it with strong flavors such as bottarga to highlight its taste.

Moschomavro

Siatista, West Macedonia

The Moschomavro variety is cultivated in northwestern Greece only. It is usually used to produce varietal wines. The Diamantis Winery in Siatista produces an excellent Moschomavro wine: it features aromas of red fruit, spices, herbs and is medium-bodied with a strong acidity. Pair it with an old-fashioned roast lamb.

Kydonitsa

Monemvasia, Peloponnese

The Kydonitsa variety is one that is found mainly in the region of Laconia, in the southeastern Peloponnese. Kydonitsa usually gives dry whites and is also used in the production of sweet PDO Monemvasia-Malvasia wines. The one produced at the Tsibidis family’s Monemvasia Winery bears aromas of stone fruit such as quince, persimmon, loquat as well as citrus fruit. It is full-bodied and mildly acidic. Pair it with raw fish marinated in citrus.

Vradiano

Northern Evia

Vradiano is a rare variety from the island of Evia. Vriniotis Winery, which revived it several years ago, produces rich reds as well as compelling sweet wines from it. It possesses aromas of black fruit, herbs and sweet spices. It has a bright color and is full-bodied with high tannins. It is ideally paired with beef – cooked medium rare to keep all the juice.

Mavroudi

Xanthi, Thrace

The Mavroudi variety is one that grows mainly in northern Greece, but it can also be found in the Peloponnese. Anatolikos Vineyards Winery in Xanthi produces the unique Fine Mavroudi, which has an intense color and features aromas of black fruit, sweet spices, herbs, and leather. It is a dry wine with high tannins, a full body and a balanced acidity. Pair it with medium-cooked red meats.

Mouchtaro

Thebes

Mouchtaro is a red variety from Thebes, revived by the Zacharias brothers in the Valley of the Muses, on the slopes of Mt Elikonas. The variety is famous in the production of red wines, but it is also used for rosés and sweet blends. One might say that it is an unusual variety, with an intense color and aromas of black fruit, spices and herbs. With its particularly high acidity and intense tannins, it is definitely dynamic. The Mouchtaro at Muses Estate is best savored with a plate of lamb cheeks.

Petroulianos

Monemvasia, Peloponnese

Petroulianos is a rare, nearly extinct variety being revived at Vatistas Winery. Originally from Laconia, it produces medium-bodied wines that have a moderate acidity with intense aromas of citrus and white fruit. Pair it with fresh sour fruit and green salads or enjoy as an aperitif.

Santameriana

Achaia, Peloponnese

Santameriana is a local variety from the northern part of the Achaia region, which takes its name from the village of Santameri. Sant’Or Winery owner Panagiotis Dimitropoulos revived this variety by producing wines in the most natural way, with minimal intervention and additives. The Santameriana Orange gives off aromas of ripe tropical and stone fruit; it is full-bodied with a notable acidity. Don’t be afraid to pair it with strong flavors such as fried cod with skordalia (Greek garlic dip).

Sideritis

Patra, Peloponnese

Sideritis is a rare, reddish variety from Patra, made famous by Parparoussis Winery and its unique wines. Although the grapes have a reddish color, they are known for the whites and excellent rosés they produce. Petite Fleur is a rosé that has aromas of red fruit, citrus, herbs and fresh grass. It is medium-bodied with a refreshing acidity. Pair it with medium-flavored fish, ideally dark-colored – such as salmon or tuna.

Vlachiko

Metsovo, Epirus

Vlachiko is a rare variety from northern Greece. Some of its best expressions are produced at Katogi Averoff, a historic winery. Vlachiko features aromas of red and black fruit, spices, and herbs. It has high tannins, a medium body and high acidity. Pair it with rich pot roasts.

Dafni

Irakleio, Crete

The Dafni variety has been much discussed since its vinification by the Lyrarakis Winery, which focuses on the revival of indigenous varieties. Dafni has proven to be a priceless variety in Cretan vineyards. As its name indicates, it possesses aromas of laurel (dafni, or daphne, is the Greek word for laurel), as well as herbs, citrus and white fruit. It is a light-bodied yet crisp wine. Save a bottle to pair with the traditional Greek Easter magiritsa, a lamb offal soup.

Mavro Kalavrytino

Kalavryta, Peloponnese

Mavro Kalavrytino is a red variety indigenous to Kalavryta on Mt Helmos. For some years, Tetramythos Winery has been producing red wine from this variety, with as little intervention and additives as possible. It possesses a soft color and emanates aromas of red fruit, herbs and spices. It is a highly acidic, medium-bodied wine. Pair it with cold cuts – such as pastrami.


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