Greece & The Foreigner Grapes

Greece & The Foreigner Grapes

When one thinks of Greece—and even more specifically, the island of Santorini—one visualizes the iconic white stucco structures with blue-domed roofs, overlooking crystal-clear, blue waters. To the north of Santorini are the Cyclades Islands, surrounded by the Aegean Sea. The landscapes of the islands are rugged, having been formed by a volcano many centuries ago. The volcanic soils on Santorini and the Cyclades Islands provide unique growing conditions for grapes used to make wine.

Wine has been produced in Greece for over 6,500 years, and is one of the oldest producers of wine in the world. Greece is home to over 300 indigenous grapes, and also to other well-known international varieties. In Santorini and the Cyclades Islands, the primary grape is Assyrtiko. It is native to Santorini, and makes dry and sweet white wines that pair beautifully with the local cuisine—especially fresh seafood. 

Grapes, other than Assyrtiko in Santorini and the Cyclades Islands, are sometimes nicknamed the “foreigner grapes.” This week, City Vino, takes you to Greece, and a couple of wines made from these outlier grapes.

The Gavalas family winery, located in the traditional village of Megalochori on the island of Santorini, is one of the oldest wineries on the island and goes back 5 generations. There are 300 years of family tradition that goes into the 10 wines they produce, which equates to about 80,000 bottles per year.

Our featured Gavalas wine is the Aidani. This dry white wine is made from 100 percent Aidani, which is the second-most-planted grape on the island of Akrotiri, which is in the Cyclades Islands. The vines in this vineyard are over 50 years old, producing beautifully concentrated flavors. This wine is stainless-steel-fermented, and aged. The Aidani has aromas of flowers of jasmine or lemon blossoms, and flavors of orchard fruit, like apples and pears, on the palate. A lovely, light-bodied wine with bright acidity, that will pair beautiful with light fish dishes, especially with citrus, salads and vegetables.

Another Gavalas favorite in the shop is the Assyrtiko, which is the most iconic wine grape variety on the island. The vines are very long-lived, at 50 years old, and are still producing. Gavalas uses the free-run juice for this wine, and ferments it in stainless steel under controlled, cool temperatures. This means the wine will exhibit the truest of character, floral, citrus, lemon, pear, peach, salty, and minerality. A spectacular wine with a Mediterranean seafood meal.

While there may not be any travelling going on right now, why not travel with us to Santorini and the Cyclades Islands, right in your glass? Cheers!


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