by Markus Stolz


byMarkus Stolz
April 16, 2010, 6 Comments

Greece is blessed with the sheer number of indigenous and international grape varieties that grow here. It is nearly impossible to become bored with the wines, as there are an abundance of different flavours to be enjoyed. It is a paradise to those who like to expand their palates.

It is still not known exactly how many indigenous varieties exist in Greece, as the same variety can have more than one name in different areas. A save assumption is that there are around two hundred.

There are some varieties I always return to, and of course others that I find curious, but try less often. Generally, I prefer Xinomavro to Agiorgitiko, and Assyrtiko to Roditis. This is only the result of my own palate, and by no means an indication of the nobility of the varieties. I also like most of the times Syrah more than Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc more than Semillon. My wife on the other hand enjoys Roditis and Merlot most, and you will find always find two different white wines in our fridge :)

I am curious to find out more about your preferences – what grape variety does it for you? Please use the comment section below to engage.

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  1. Kostas KatsoulierisApril 16, 2010, 11:59 pm

    Sometimes depends on my mood, or what I’m having to eat. I love well made concentrated Nemeas and aged Xins and am completely seduced by dry Mavodaphne. For whites I love Roditis and barrelled Assyrtiko. For foreign varieties I adore Rhone reds and Viognier (would love to see Marsanne here). Oh and a nice buttery Chardonnay if deep but not overdone (if that makes any sense)…

  2. Kostas P.April 17, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Big fan of Xinomavro, especially when it comes from Amyndeo, and also of Dry Mavrodaphne. Roditis and Assyrtiko for whites and for foreigns: reisling and pinot noir..

  3. Michael PlunkettApril 17, 2010, 11:45 pm

    I am new to Greek Wines,but finding them interesting,I concur with Syrah v Cab ,also enjoy viognier,In summer i like Dry Rose’s from southern Rhone & Provence, & Spain. I will sometimes chill lighter bodied reds ,Bardolino.etc,

  4. Christina KroApril 18, 2010, 6:46 pm

    I agree with Kostas K. that it does depend on the mood. However when it comes to Greek varieties, I’m an (undecided…) fun of both well aged Agiorgitko and Xinomavro. Even though in general I prefer red wine, I love a well made Assyrtiko (not necesarily barrelled) as well as the more aromatic Moschato Alexandrias and Malagouzia (mostly in blends). And Kosta, you comment about the Chardonnay makes perfect sense!! I concur!

  5. Yiannis PapadakisApril 19, 2010, 4:10 pm

    Nearly all internationally acclaimed wine experts that have tasted Greek wines cannot be wrong: their conclusion is in the same direction with my overall impression that:
    1. Assyrtico, especially from the volcanic terroir of Santorini produces unique, ageworthy wines that deserve to become world stars. They are by far Greece’s most valuable wine treasure to be discovered by adventurous palates the world over.
    2. From the indigenous reds, xinomavro is more difficult to appreciate (especially when young), less crowd-pleasing compared to agiorgitiko, but capable of producing long-lived, complex reds with unique character. However, I believe that the best wines from this variety are to be seen in the future. Much work has to be done on clones, soils, microclimates etc. in order to fully exploit this variety’s full potential. On the other hand, agiorgitiko can produce fruit-forward, voluptious wines that are the wine-beginner’s dears. Most of them however are to be consumed within the first 3-5 years from the vintage. I agree that dry mavrodaphne is a partially only explored treasure that might surprise us with its potential.
    3. I am surprised having seen nothing from the previous writers about robolla. I believe this grape, especially when grown in its homeland Cephalonia, is capable of producing a wide range of styles: from simple, refreshing and easy to drink aromatic whites, to more serious, complex and even ageworthy wines. The first serious bottlings are already available, mainly from Gentilini (Cellar Selection), but with the appropriate research in viticulture and winemaking, it might prove to be Greece’s Gruner Veltliner! I think robolla easily overperforms other indigenous whites like roditis, malagouzia and moschofilero, whose potential is limited to aromatic and pleasrent wines for short-term consumption.
    4. Concerning wines from international varieties or blends between indegenous and international ones, I belive that syrah performs best both on its own and as a component in blends especially with xinomavro and kotsifali. This is quite natural given this variety’s compatibility with warm climates. Also noteworthy are blends between assyrtiko and semillon or sauvignon blanc, especially from the Drama region.

  6. Viviane Bauquet Farre / Food & StyleApril 20, 2010, 6:33 am

    Markus! I cannot wait to meet you in person in May. I must say that before I “met” you informally on Twitter and discovered your blog, I had no experience of Greek wines. The spelling of Greek varietals alone is a challenge to me, but I very much look forward to tasting and learning more… I think you are the night-in-shining-armor of Greek wines!
    If you count all the countries in this world that produce wine, how many varietals do you think exit? An altogether thrilling and overwhelming thought…