Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greek Grape Varietial Discriptions

White Vitis Vinifera

*please note that variations in spelling and translation are common, with small differences appearing on labels according to the region or producer.

Assyrtiko: High-acid variety native to Santorini and the Aegean islands, considered by many to make Greece's finest whites. Usually used to make dry, racy wines, with strong mineral character.

Lagorthi: A high-acid variety producing crisp, energetic wines with low alcohol, solid structure and pronounced minerality.

Robola: Known as ribolla in Italy. Produces fresh, tangy wines with bright citrus and zesty mineral character.

Roditis: Common in Peloponnese. A late-ripening, vigorous variety that yields light, crisp wines with fresh citrus and herb character.

Savatiano: The most planted grape in Greece. A high-yielding variety that produces low-acid, early maturing wine which are often high in alcohol. This is the most common variety used for retsina and is usually blended with other, higher acid grapes.

Red Vitis Vinifera

Agiorghitiko: Also called Saint George. A widely planted, high-yielding variety producing low-acid, often early-drinking wines, emphasizing red fruits and gentle spice. Often made in an easygoing style and frequently blended with more tannic or high-acid grapes.

Kotsifali: Native to Crete. Produces aromatic, rich, full-bodied wines with low acidity and soft tannins. The wines are never deep in color as this is a thin skinned grape.

Limnio: Common in northern Greece, where it often appears in blends. Tends to make powerful, structured wines with tangy red fruit and fresh herb qualities and moderate to high acidity.

Mandilaria: A thick-skinned variety from Crete. Produces deeply colored, low-acid and full-bodied wines, often with pronounced tannins. Widely used in blends for the color it brings.

Mavrodaphne: Yields full-bodied, dense wines. Most often used to make rich dessert-styled versions, which are among Greece's best-known wines.

Xinomavro: Considered Greece's greatest red variety and responsible for its most serious reds. Notoriously fickle to grow, it is a late-ripening variety, producing powerful, structured, richly flavored wines with hard tannins. The wines made from Xinomavro are seldom dark and are often compared to nebbiolo or Pinot Noir. The picture below displays the pine cone like shape of the xinomavro cluster.

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