Two weeks ago (8-9/10/16) we attended the London Greek Wine Festival, raising our glass to celebrate this brilliant event. Although Greece has been home to winemaking for over 6000 years and with more than 300 indigenous grape varieties; Greek wines have been underrated for decades.
However, there has been a shift in recent years and, it seems that finally, it’s their time to shine globally. This post will introduce you to four fascinating and unique indigenous varieties: Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro and will inspire you to pair this ancient elixir with food.
Assyrtiko is a white grape variety, produced mainly in Santorini (PDO Santorini). It has a fresh, citrussy, mineral driven character with sea salt finish. It produces a dry white wine, but its multipurpose grapes can even extend to dessert wines. This variety is the ideal complement to haute cuisine, fish, seafood and, surprisingly, even meat dishes. We love it with grilled octopus, sardines as well as the classic Santorini-style fava beans.
Did you know? Assyrtiko is a rare case of white with tannins.
Moschofilero is a white grape variety, produced mainly in the Peloponnese (PDO Mantinia). It is an aromatic variety with surprising freshness, crisp acidity and wild floral intensity. It does not only make a still table wine but delicious rosé, sparkling and dessert wines. This exotic grape produces the perfect aperitif or complement to a wide variety of elegant dishes, Middle and Far East cuisine, sushi and seafood. We love it with all “quintessential Greek” grilled seafood such as red mullet.
Agiorgitiko – Nemea is a red grape variety, produced mainly in the Peloponnese (PDO Nemea). It has a deep, dark ruby colour, mid acidity and soft tannins. The range of wine styles include rich, complex, age worthy reds for the cellar; as well as light, easy drinking wines with the fresh aromas of red fruits. These captivating wines are exceptionally food friendly and you can even pair them with fish. We love it with a classic beef steak or with a slow roasted tomato-sauce stew (kokkinisto). Agiorgitiko grapes are also used to produce our wonderful Petimezi (Grape molasses)
Did you know? According to an ancient legend, the Nemea-Agiorgitiko grapes got their rich, dark colour and their soft and mysterious flavour from the blood of the lion that Hercules slew.
Xinomavro (Ksinomavro) is a red grape variety, produced in the Northern Greece (PDO Naoussa and PDO Amynteo). This intriguing variety can be difficult to cultivate. It has a deep red colour, a complex aromatic character including dried tomatoes and spices, high acidity and strong tannins. When the variety is expressed in wines, it is used in indigenous wine blends, as well as in rosés, including brilliant rustic ones and of course, it is exceptional when aged. This variety makes a great food pairing wine, ideal for food with intense and rich flavours. We love it with Northern Greece specialities like rabbit or game stew or simply with some smoked cheese.