You may be surprised to learn that Greece has an estimated 300 indigenous grape varieties!

Of course, winemaker and consumer attention is focused on what are commonly referred to as the big four: Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Moschofilero and Assyrtiko, but other interesting grapes like Malagousia have also attracted a following. Crete has its own indigenous varieties: Vidiano and Liatiko.

Here’s a little bit of information about each of these varieties.

Xinomavro (ksee NO ma vro) – This red grape variety from northern Greece has been called a cult wine in the making. It is widely considered Greece’s finest red wine and often invites comparisons with the famous Barolo wines of Italy’s Piedmont region. Much like Nebbiolo, Xinomavro tends to be tannic in youth, but becomes more elegant with ageing. The best examples of Xinomavro have extraordinary depth and complexity. Typical aromas include black olive, spices, earth, and dark fruit.

Naoussa, a green and lush region that sits at the base of a mountain range, is the most important appellation associated with the variety, but Nemea, on the Peloponnese peninsula, also makes impressive Xinomavro.

Agiorgitiko (ah yor YEE ti ko) – Native to Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula and one of its oldest varieties, this fragrant, versatile grape makes suave, full-bodied, fruit forward reds with supple red plum and berry flavours and plush tannins. Agiorgitiko means “St George’s Grape”, and is probably named for a chapel near Nemea. It’s also associated with the Ancient Greek half-god Heracles.

The higher-altitude vineyards of Nemea, where some of the semi-mountainous vineyards are between 450 and 650 metres above sea level, insure a long growing season, allowing the fruit to ripen slowly and retain enough acidity to create balanced, well structured wines.

Moschofilero (mos ko FEE le Ro) – A very aromatic white grape variety form the … Read the rest