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Unknown Greek varieties of wine worth trying

Greek wines may be the most underrated on the planet. Why is a mystery as the Greeks have been making wine since around 2000BC. Certainly, the quality of Greek wine has improved dramatically since the 1980s and more of them have been appearing in Cyprus since then. The white Assyrtiko of Cyclades or Moschophilero of Mantinea, the Agiorgitiko of Nemea and Xinomavro from northern Greece offer astounding quality and have established themselves firmly on the island. Greece, though, has over 300 indigenous varieties.

The revolution that has taken place in Greece over the last two decades has resulted in modern and characterful wines. New varieties have hit the shelves and the glasses of the most adventurous of us. Varieties like Sideritis, Kidonitsa, Aidani and Limniona are a breath of fresh air for wine lovers. These new varieties offer a broad range of wines made in a variety of distinctive styles, peculiar characters and intriguing tasting profiles. While I appreciate that such varieties will never compete with industrial-scale producers or dominate sales as does Kiwi’s Sauvignon Blanc but these Greek varieties can excel on the basis of their individuality, as sometimes shown by their names.

2016 Domaine Parparoussis, The Gift of Dionysus, Sideritis PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Abv 12.5%
A gift from the God of wine! This unusual wine is made from the red Sideritis grape, which is a native of the north west Peloponnese. Yellow colour with flashes of green, primary aromas of citrus, freshly cut apple and gooseberry and a hint of herbs, star anise, asparagus and a mineral background combined with a delicate chamomile allusion. On the palate well-structured and balanced, a nice acidity well integrated in a pleasant ending recalling delicate minerality and pink grapefruit flavour with a clean finish with hints of lime. (€11.50, La Maison du Vin)

2016 Douloufaki Winery, Dafnios, Vidiano, PGI Heraklion, Crete, Abv 13%
Vidiano is an ancient white-wine grape from Crete. The variety was all but extinct less than 25 years ago but there are now signs of a small-scale revival. Dafnios is made 100% from it. It is medium to full-bodied, with acidity that is remarkably fresh given the warm, humid climate it comes from. It is pretty aromatic with fruit flavours of lime, quince, peach and even mango. The palate has the same aromatic quality with a lick of tropical fruits and citrus-led finish. (€13, Vinoteca)

2016 Artemis Karamolegos Aidani, PGI Cyclades, Abv 13%
Aidani is a white grape variety that is almost exclusively grown on Santorini. It is used mainly as a blending partner with either Athiri or Assyrtiko. Straw yellow colour, the nose surprises with its minerality and is followed by pale lemon, white flower and a blend of yellow fruits. The palate is at once vibrant and textural and finishes with lingering acidity. (€17.30, Bottles)

2016 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Moschato Spinas, Vatolakkos, Crete, Abv 14.5%
Originating from the community of Spinas near Chania, Muscat Spinas differs in the thickness of the crust of the berry. Straw yellow with green hints, the nose is fine and full of delicate jasmine, lemon, white peach, ripe pear, apricot jam, lychee, butterscotch and honey. Smooth, velvety taste on the palate, aromatic and well balanced, high acidity with a pleasant mineral conclusion. (€16, Vinocultura)

2016 Zacharia Estate, Kidonitsa, PGI Peloponnese, Abv 13%
One of the rare varieties of the Laconia region with its trademark aroma reminiscent of quince. This is a lovely wine with a green-lemony colour from the rare variety Kydonitsa. On the nose there are intense aromatic characteristics such as quince, citrus flowers and melon. It is balanced with a round mouth feel and refreshing acidity of moderate to high intensity. (€9.50, Fereos Fourpoint Distribution)

2016 Chrysochou Estate Prekniariko, PGI Imathia, Abv 14.5%
This is an excellent expression of Naoussa’s almost extinct white grape Prekniariko, made by the family that saved it and then made it known. It has the rustic character and air of six-month ageing in oak barrels. Aromas of tobacco and roast nuts, along with the delicate scent of caramel and jam, caramelised citrus fruit and dried flower compose a very special personality which is also apparent in its barrel-scented mouth-feel. Crisp acidity with aftertaste reminding of salty roast nuts. (€17, Κeo)

2014 Domaine Zaphirakis, Limniona, PGI Tyrnavos, Abv 13.5%
Limniona is the rising star of the Greek red varieties and will be a driving force for the development of numerous top wines around Greece in the years to come. The thick-skinned Limniona grape has become Christos Zaphirakis’ signature wine. It is a silky, sinewy wine without an ounce of fat but with an indescribably mysterious nose, displaying intense red fruit, herbal and strangely evocative of oriental spices. The palate is quite generous, round, with crispy acidity and a lingering finish. (€22, ACM Christophides)

2013 Theopetra Estate, Limniona, PGI Meteora, Abv13%
Another example of the Limnionas grape and this one has a ruby ed colour with ‘young’ purple hues. On the nose, attractive aromas of strawberry and cherry, hints of spice, more of black pepper. It has a well-structured mouth, perfectly dry, with moderate tannins and ripe edgy acidity. The spices are highlighted in the mouth and embrace the fruit, which becomes fresher, leading to a moderate length finish with a slightly bitter appetizing but aftertaste. (€18.50, Senaga)

2015 Douloufaki Winery, Dafnios, Liatiko, PGI Heraklion, Crete, Abv 13%
Like Vidiano, Liatiko is an ancient black-skinned grape variety grown on Crete. Dafnios red will fascinate every restless wine lover who discovers and enjoys this traditional and rare wine. It has a brilliant ruby colour with brown hints. The nose is fruity – cherry and plum – spicy, and what I loved is the earthy minerality undertone. It has a round mellow texture and is persistent on the finish. (€13, Vinoteca)

2012 Avantis Estate, Mavrokountoura, Regional Wine Evia, Abv 13%
Mavrokountoura of Kymi is the ancient variety of Evia and is a clone of the Aegean Mandilaria whose grapes are small and dark with velvet tannins. It has an opaque ruby colour with a pronounced nose with intensity of black fruit and spice aromas, jam, vanilla, coffee and oak. It has a full and round palate with balanced acidity and fine-grained high level tannins. Long finish. (€20, ACM Christophides)

2010 Ktima Mercouri Antares Avgoustiatis – Mourvèdre, PGI Ilia Peloponnese, Abv 13%
Avgoustiatis belongs to a group of very rare Greek varieties with a small acreage produced by only a handful of wine producers but giving impressive, high quality results. This is a blend of Avgoustiatis and Mourvédre, a wine with a generous bouquet of leather and pepper in harmony with the cinnamon and the vanilla of the oak wood. Its taste is strong and pleasant with fine tannins. (€13.75, Cava Dionysion)

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