While Greece is known as one of the world’s oldest wine making regions, its wines are among the lesser known varieties for sale today. The earliest Greek wines date back 6500 years, however when the trade in wine really took off, it started to be transported around the entire Mediterranean region. During the Middle Ages, wine exported from Monemvasia and Crete was sold for very high prices across northern Europe.
Today, the main red wine grape varieties in Greece include the Agiorgitiko, or St George’s grape which is grown primarily in the Peloponnese region and which produces fruity, soft reds, the Xinomavro with its tannic, rich character, Limnio which is an ancient variety with a full body and herbaceous flavour, the Mandilaria which is primarily grown on Crete and Rhodes and which has a tannic flavour and is generally found in blends, Negoska which produces primarily rose wines, and black Mesenikola which is only grown in Central Greece.
When it comes to white wines, Assyrtiko, with its similar character to Riesling, is native to Santorini, Athirit with its low acid content, Debina which is often used in sparkling wines, Lagorthi which is grown on the high slopes of the Peloponnese, Moschofilero with its floral and crisp character, Robola which comes from Cepahlonia’s mountainous vineyards, the citrussy Roditis and Savatiano from Attica which is traditionally used in the making of retsina are all commonly grown.
Although Greek wines are not especially well known on the international market, the industry has been going through a period of growth, adopting more modern practices, and looks set to grows still further.