Can you name any Greek wine varieties? Unfortunately, most wine lovers will stumble on this question, as the Greek wine industry remains a mystery to most.
Well, we would like to change this! We believe in the uniqueness of Greek wines and in wanting to educate both WineCollective members, and ourselves, we have included a Greek wine in November packages!
In order to prepare you for the 2011 Sigalas Asirtiko-Athiri, here is our need-to-know basics blog for Greek wine. This way, you can hold your own when tasting, or travelling to Greece!
So, if you asked yourself, what is Asirtiko or Athiri, this blog is for you!
Wine Regions of Greece
Macedonia: Located top north of Greece, Macedonia has replanted vineyards and upgraded to modern technology in recent years.
Epirus: One of the most mountainous regions in Greece. Nestled between the slopes of Mount Pindos, these vineyards are extremely difficult, yet satisfying, to cultivate.
Thessalia: On the southeastern slopes of Mount Olympos and neighbouring the Aegean Sea, Thessalia has a unique microclimate perfect for indigenous varietals.
Sterea Ellada: One of the oldest regions in Greece. Holding the city of Athens, this region is where Dionysus (the Greek God of Wine) introduced wine to the people.
Peloponnese: Most southern region on the continent. Vineyards are spread through hillsides and plateaus making the terroir throughout the region incredibly diverse.
Aegean Islands: Including the island of Santorini, where wine production thrives due to Mediterranean climate and volcanic soils.
Ionian Islands: Mostly parallel and west to Sterea Ellada, these islands including Cephalonia are green and mountainous.
There are many white grape varietals native to Greece, including those that compose November’s Greek wine!
Arguably Greece’s most known grape, Asyrtiko is native to Santorini, and maintains acidity as ripens, leaving a wine that is bright in acidity yet bone dry. The wine carries citrus and mineral notes from the volcanic soils of the island. It is also blended with Aidani and Athiri for VinSanto (holy wine). On the mainland, more mild and fruitier examples are created.
Also originates from Santorini, and is even named after the island that is at times known as “Thira.” These wines are sweet and fruity with medium alcohol and low acidity.
Athiri vines at Domaine Sigalas
Planted in the Pelaponnese, these wines are high in acidity from the concentration of malic acid in the grape. Notes of peach and melon are typical with herbal undertones.
Other white grapes include:
- Aidani – typically used in blends
- Robola – a noble grape, native to Greece grown in the high mountain ranges
- White Muscat
While Greece grows the widly known and noble grapes of the world, they also have indigenous red grape varieties.
Originating in the Peloponnese region, this red grape creates a wine with soft tannins. Winemakers can create everything from fresh aromatic reds from the variety to deep aged reds or even rose!
Translating to ‘acid black’ Xinomavro wines have rich drying tannins and characteristics of gooseberry, olives, dried tomatoes and spice – a great pairing for Italian tomato dishes!
Harvest at Domaine Sigalas
Like most countries, Greece has their own class stamps and qualifications for quality wine and appellations. AOQS (Designation of Origin of Superior Quality) marks areas where historical winemaking took place. In these areas, there are limits on artificial additions in winemaking, and oaking and aging times. These wines are marked with a red band across the neck of the bottle.
AOC wines (Controlled Appellation of Origin) are marked with a blue band. In addition to the same restrictions as AOQS, these wines are sweet and must follow regulations on processes for additional sugars, either by creating fortified wines (adding alcohol – usually brandy – to the wine) or sun drying, where the grapes are left in the sun, bumping up their sugar levels.
We are very excited for WineCollective members to receive their 2011 Sigalas Asirtiko-Athiri in this month’s packages. If you have any questions about Greek wines, please contact us!
Don’t forget to rate and comment on the wine, as we’d love to see how you enjoy the Greek treat! Let us know if you would like to see more Greek wines on WineCollective!