Greek Wine World

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Greek Wine World

Aegean Islands
Fascinating indigenous white and red grapes in all known styles. On volcanic Lemnos, from Muscat of Alexandria aromatic sweet wines. Paros, the rare smokey white Monemvasia and the tannic Mandilaria. Samos, thanks to old vine low yielding Moshato aspro. (Muscat a petit grains) fragrant dessert wines. On volcanic Santorini the oldest known un-grafted vines in the world. Pruned in ground hugging basket fashion. Bone dry and the sun-dried grapes sweet Vinsanto. Star grape the mineral charged white Assyrtiko dominating 65% of the islands, alas, shrinking 1,200 hectares. Now under modest revival a red grape charmingly named Mavrotragano(black crunchy). Rich in wine history Rhodes boasts the oldest known grape of the Aegean, the white Athiri. On pine covered terraces and stoney hillsides of Mt.Ebonas here the delicate Athiri is unrivaled.

climate: Maritime with strong north blowing Meltemi wind.
landscape: Volcanic, pumice.
soil: Volcanic, pumice.

Central Greece
The largest area in the fragmented Greek vineyard, the countryside of the historic towns of Thebes and Athens, it is mostly planted to Savatiano grape, from which white wine is made. Quality hillside vineyards north-west of Thebes are planted to several old-vine Savatiano clones. Very good Savatiano within view of the Athens International Airport.

climate : Semi- continental and maritime.
landscape : Flat. Hillside up to 350m
soil : Gravel. limestone.

Even though this is the southernmost part of Greece (34˚ N), it is not the warmest. Most vineyards are found on the north-facing shoreline, benefiting from the cooling north-blowing afternoon Meltemi that races down the Aegean. Diverse terrain and soil types. Planted to the medium dark-skinned Liatiko, or little-seen white Thrapsathiri, old ungrafted vines in Sitia have terrific potential. Crete's best-known and widely exported wine is the floral and spicy white Vilana. Suprising for it's high acidity and finesse. Finest vineyards include the limestone hillsides above Heraklion, central Crete. The new darling, and for a good reason, is the rich-tasting white Vidiano, which is now being re-discovered, with new acreage coming on stream. Encouraging signs with Mandilari, so far an underperformer due to overcropping and its green unripe tannins both in Crete and elsewhere in the Aegean.

climate : Maritime
landscape : undulating hillsides
soil : limestone. granite, schist.

A mountainous region adjacent to the Ionian Sea and Albania. Limestone rock and schistous vineyards with varying altitudes of 450 m. to 900 m. Lightly aromatic whites are still and off-dry fizzy, with the freckled Debina grape of Zitsa. Cabernet Sauvignon was first planted on the hillsides of Metsovo in 1959; they have subsequently been replanted. In the same location, Traminer has adapted well in these Dolomite-like mountain vineyards.

climate : Semi - continental.
landscape : Mountainous up to 900m
soil : Schist

Ionian Islands
Mostly limestone-based soils. A rich heritage of top-notch grapes, some lesser-known. Today, Cephalonia rules in the Ionian, with quality dry and flinty Robola. Fine red Mavrodaphne in unfortified dry table wines. A little Moschato aspro (Muscat à petits grains). Nearby Lefkada has the rare white Verdea and tannic red Vertzami. There are over 20 varieties on the island of Zakynthos, making strongly flavoured white wines not unlike Spain’s Montilla. Corfu has obscure Muscats on the scattered limestone vineyards in the north. White Kakotryghis is Corfu's current star. The best examples are near the sandy lagoon Korisia and the sandy-loam vineyards at nearby Lefkimi.

climate : maritime
landscape : low lying or Alpille with vines up to 800m
soil : Limestone and hillside deposits.

Macedonia wines
A powerhouse of a region. Diverse mesoclimates and soil types. Fascinating indigenous grapes, such as the fragrant Malagousia, as well as blends. Unique high-acid red Xinomavro. Clever blends of Assyrtiko and Semillon. One of the most exciting vineyards is the cooler-climate Amyndeon, which benefits from large diurnal temperature range; exceptional Xinomavro and blends, as well as new sparkling wines are produced in the area.

climate : Semi- continental and maritime.
landscape : Varied. Rolling hills. Hillside mountainous.
soil : Loam. Sand.

Peloponese wines,
An important area, with several high-profile sub-regions. Numerous indigenous grapes are planted in diverse terrain and soil types. Hillside vines up to 1,050 m. Crisp white Roditis on the shoreline overlooking the Gulf of Corinth. The fragrant blanc de gris, still and fizzy grapey Moschofilero grape on the cooler (550-700 m.) plateau of Mantinia near the town of Tripoli. The town of Nemea near Corinth is the largest single red vineyard (2,500 hectares), planted to the aromatic and soft-tannined red-grape Aghiorghitiko. To the west, facing the Ionian Sea and close to Ancient Olympia, one finds Refosco, a grape variety originally sourced from Trieste, in 1870.

climate : maritime and inner semi-continental
landscape : varied with canyon like or plateau altitude 50 - 1050m.
soil : Marl, loam. Sand.

Thessalia wines
Several sub-regions. The foothills of Mount Olympus are home to quality Xinomavro, also blended with Syrah. In the hotter plain, in the western valley in Tyrnavos, the local thick-skinned, drought-resistant, promising grape Limnionas (no relation to Limnio) is undergoing a revival. Thessalia is the unofficial capital of tsipouro – a clear grape spirit mostly made from the fragrant Muscat of Hamburg.

climate : Semi-continental.
landscape : flat valley or hillsides to 550 m.
soil : gravely loam, silt.

Thrace wines
The region is currently undergoing a revival, with small boutique producers who focus on indigenous and cosmopolitan grapes. Maritime climate along the Aegean shoreline. Maronia has come up with a creditable effort on the, which is hard to ripen, red Limnio grape. There is still unrealized potential in the red grape Mavro Thrakiotiko (Mavroudi), in the rolling hills of the continental-climate Pendalofos, north-west of Orestiada.

climate : Continental and maritime influence. Meso-climate infiuenced by Bulgarian snowfall.
landscape : flat and rolling hills
soil : Iron rich red soils.

By permission from the Author: Mr. Nico Manessis

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