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GRAPE EXPECTATIONS...

It is so easy to fall into a rut when it comes to drinking wine. We all have wines that we prefer and enjoy for all sorts of occasions or types of food, so why even think about choosing a different bottle and being disappointed? It is understandable. But here in Crete, there has been a full-blown revival of the island’s wine-making and since these lesser know wines offer the thrill of discovery, it would be a shame not to become more adventurous and to expect more.

Cretans first produced wine during the Minoan period in the third millennium BC. In those times, grape varieties were limited, but today, in addition to world cultivars, even the more obscure varieties are making a comeback at the hands of a new generation of forward-thinking vintners. Until about 10 years ago, the island’s wine industry was monopolized by a handful of large cooperatives, but these days many small artisan and organic vineyards are building brands and producing an array of dependable, value-for-money reds for everyday drinking.

Today Crete is responsible for 20% of all wine produced in Greece. Its wine industry has been organized into three main areas, centered around the cities of Chania, Sitia and the largest region around Heraklion. The chief varieties used in the production of red wine arethe following:
 
Kotsifali belongs to a more Mediterranean and perhaps more eclectic class of grapes, and as such is often overlooked in favor of the more “cosmopolitan” varieties associated with France and the New World. However, vintners with older vines and low yield strategies can produce good quality, upscale varietal wines and exceptional blends with Mandilaria and Syrah. Kotsifali benefits from years of maturation in the bottle.
 
Liatiko is an early-ripening grape of complex character whose lineage can be traced to ancient times and is believed to have been a traditional component employed in Malvasia. It is undergoing more scrutiny today by conscientious vintners. Production is primarily in Sitia and Dafnes.
 
Mandilaria, the most widely planted red variety in the Aegean leans toward the tannic and is generally low in alcohol. It is rarely used as a mono varietal but is a sound partner for blending, especially with Kotsifali.
 
WINE RECOMMENDATIONS
 
Miliarakis Estate Bio
This blend of 80% Kotsifali/20% Mandilari is a velvety smooth, aged wine with rich tannins and composite flavors of red fruit and new oak.
 
Boutari Iouliatiko
This sweet red dessert/aperitif wine made of 100% Liatiko grapes with its unique purple-brown color, has an intense aroma of cocoa, coffee and prunes.
 
Douloufakis Dafnes VQPRD
A ruby-colored dry red organic wine from 100% Liatiko grapes, with fruity and spicy aroma and round, mellow texture.
 
Lyrarakis Mandilari
The first wine from 100% Mandilari grapes is a deep-colored masculine wine with aromas of chocolate and blackberry. It has a few years of ageing potential.

 

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