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Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Description to Greece

The history of Greek viticulture began, so to speak, with a fling between the supreme god Zeus and the beautiful Seméle (daughter of Harmonia, goddess of harmony), which led to the birth of Dionysus, the god of wine, joy, grapes, fertility and ecstasy. Ancient Greece or, based on archaeological finds, especially the island of Crete, is considered one of the "cradles of European wine culture". Wine was already cultivated in the Mycenaean culture in the 16th century BC (Mycenae = north-eastern Peloponnese), as indicated by amphorae that have been found. Wine was an important part of the drinking culture of daily life. The Greeks were among the very first to attach great importance to wine as a valuable commodity. Even the poet Homer (8th century BC) reports in the Iliad about wine as the household drink of the heroes described. The historian Hesiod (~750-680 BC), the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), the naturalist Theophrastus (370-287 BC) and the physician Galen (129-216) also dealt with wine and viticulture.

On their colonising campaigns in the Mediterranean, the Greeks brought their grapevine and wine-growing culture to Sicily, to southern Italy known as Oinotria, to southern France and to the Black Sea. Many methods were adopted by the Celts and Romans. The Roman poet Vergil described the diversity of grape varieties: "It would be easier to count the grains of sand in Greece than the different grape varieties." The famous port of Monemvasia on the Peloponnese peninsula was a widely used transhipment point for sweet wines from the Aegean in the late Middle Ages under the rule of Venice, which were shipped from here to many countries in Europe. From the 15th to the middle of the 19th century, the Ottomans ruled the country, during which time wine lost its importance due to the Muslim ban on alcohol, only continuing on a relatively small scale on most of the islands. Therefore, some knowledge was preserved.

It was not until long after the country gained independence in 1830 and the Turkish influence was pushed back that people in Greece began to deal professionally with viticulture as an economic factor again and reactivated numerous vineyards at great expense. Among the pioneers were also some Germans, such as Gustav Clauss, who founded the huge Achaia Clauss winery in 1861, which still exists today. By the end of the 19th century, the area under vines had doubled, but when phylloxera finally reached Greece in 1898, much was ruined again. Reconstruction was relatively slow, because in the meantime the demand for Greek wine had also fallen sharply. Greek viticulture only experienced a renaissance with the end of the military dictatorship in 1974 and Greece's accession to the European Union in 1981.

Climate & Soil

Despite its strongly maritime character, Greece has a very high proportion of mountains. The soils of limestone, granite and volcanic rock and the prevailing Mediterranean climate with short humid mild winters and dry hot summers have a favourable effect on viticulture. The often dry autumns produce mostly fully ripe grapes with relatively little acidity. Most of the wine-growing areas are located near the coast with moderating sea breezes. To give the wines more structure, vineyards are deliberately planted at high altitudes. The vines can build up more extract and reach higher acidity levels due to the extended vegetation cycle. Another effective method of slowing down the ripening full stop is to deliberately plant vineyards on north-facing slopes.

Growing areas

Viticulture is practised, often on a small scale on a few hectares, throughout Greece on the mainland and also all the major islands. The appellations (POP, formerly OPAP and OPE) are marked in red:

Landkarte Griechenland

Aegean (with Cyclades)

Epirus

Ionian Islands

Crete

Macedonia

Peloponnese

Thessaly

Thrace

Central Greece

Vineyard index

In 2012, the area under vines covered 110,000 hectares with a downward trend (in 2000 it was 131,000 hectares). Of this, 3.115 million hectolitres of wine were produced (see also under wine production volumes). There are about 300 different autochthonous grape varieties, which account for 85% of the area. Only in a few cases are foreign varieties permitted in the quality wines. Large quantities of table grapes and sultanas are also produced; the most important variety for this is Korinthiaki. Even today, viticulture is characterised by original flavours. Around 60% are high-alcohol white wines. 90% of the wines are vinified dry. The grape variety index 2010 (statistics Kym Anderson):

Grape variety

Colour

Synonyms / Greek name

Hectare

Savatiano white Aspro, Dobraina Aspri, Kountoura Aspri 9.920
Roditis white/pink Alepou Roditis, Arilogos Roditis, Kanellato 8.495
Agiorgitiko red Aghiorghitico, Aghiorgitiko, Mavro Nemeas 2.905
Kotsifali red Kotrifali, Kotsiphali, Kotzifali 2.330
Muscat Blanc / Muscat white Moschato Aspro, Moschoudi 2.162
Xinomavro red Mavro Naoussis, Pipoliko, Xinogaltso 1.971
Romeiko red Loïssima, Romeïco, Romeiko Mavro 1.597
Cabernet Sauvignon red - 1.550
Moschomavro red Moschato Mavro, Moschogaltso, Xinogaltso 1.428
Merlot red - 1.248
Liatiko red Aleatiko 1.211
Moschofilero white/pink Fileri, Moschophilero 1.111
Assyrtiko white Assirtico, Assyrtico, Asyrtico 902
Mandilaria red Amorghiano, Dombrena Mavri, Kontoura 885
Athiri Aspro white Athiri, Athiri Lefko 748
Garnacha Roja white Grenache Gris 645
Syrah red Shiraz 641
Chardonnay white - 586
Vilana white Velana 579
Mavrud red Mavrouda, Mavroudi 520
Monemvasia white Monemvassia 481
Robola white Robola aspri 465
Limnio red Mavro Limnio 372
Mavrodaphne red Mavrodafni 345
Trebbiano Toscano white - 297
Fokiano red Fokiana, Fokiano Kokkino 262
Sauvignon Blanc white - 256
Vertzami red Lefkada, Lefkas 239
Debina white Dempina, Ntempina, Zitsa 239
Opsimo Edessis white Karatsova Naousis, Opsimos Lefko 228
Malagousia white Malagouzia 182
Negoska red Mavro Goumenissas, Negkoska 143
Tsaoussi white Tsaousiko, Tsaousia, Tsaousis 135
Asprouda white Asproudi 113
Avgoustiatis red Avgoustiates 108
Cacotrygis white Kako Tryghi 103
Goustolidi white Augoustelidi 68
Alicante Henri Bouschet red - 56
Krassato red Krasata, Krasato 52
Cinsaut red - 43
Thrapsathiri white Bechleri, Begleri, Beghleri, Dafnato 31
Cabernet Franc red - 23
Pamid red Pamidi, Pamitis 22
Tempranillo red - 19
Stavroto red Ampelakiotiko, Ampelakiotiko Mavro 11
Zakynthino white Zachara, Zacharo, Zakintino 10
Plyto white Plito, Ploto, Pluto 7
Achladi white Perlina d'Inverno ?
Agiomavritiko red - ?
Agoumastos Kokkino red Mavro Kalavritino ?
Aïdani Aspro white Aïdani, Aïdani Lefko ?
Aïdani Mavro red Mavraïdano ?
Araklinos red Araclinos, Raklino ?
Areti red - ?
Athiri Mavro red Mavratheri ?
Chondromavro red Chondromavrouda ?
Gaidouria white Gaidouricha, Gaidouriha ?
Kakotrygis white Kako Tryghi, Kakotrygis Kokkino ?
Kartsiotis red Gouchevica, Kartsotes ?
Katsakoulias red Gyftokoritho, Kaltsakouli ?
Kolliniatiko red Bergiotiko, Eugeniko ?
Koriostafylo red Koriostaphylo ?
Korithi aspro white Korithi Lefko, Korithi Leyko ?
Kotsifoliatiko red - ?
Koutsoumpeli white Koutsoubeli, Koutsoumbeli ?
Mavro red Cipro Nero, Korithi Mavro, Kritiko Mavro ?
Mavrodiates red - ?
Mavroliatis red - ?
Mavro Messenicola red Messenikola Mavro ?
Mavrotragano red - ?
Mavroudi Arachovis red Arachovis ?
Nigrikiotiko red - ?
Petrokoritho red/white Petrokoritho Mavro, Petrokoritho Lefko ?
Petroulianos white Petrolanos, Petrolianos ?
Platani white Platania, Platanos ?
Potamissi white Aspropotamisio ?
Potamissi Mavro red - ?
Priknadi white Prekiadi, Prekna ?
Ritino red Aretino ?
Roditis Lefkos white Kolokythas Lefkos ?
Rokaniaris white - ?
Sklava white Sklaba, Sklabes, Sklabos ?
Skopelitiko red Scopelitico, Skopelitis ?
Skylopnichtis red Kasteliotiko, Mavros Arkadias ?
Sykiotis red Chiotis, Kiotes, Kiotis ?
Syriki red Kseriki, Seriki, Syrike, Xerichi ?
Tachtas white Kourou Tachtas, Kour Tachtas ?
Theiako Mavro red - ?
Tourkopoula white Rhoditis Kokkinos, Roditis Kokkinos ?
Vaftra red Vaphtra, Vautra, Vavtra ?
Vidiano white Abidano, Abidiano, Abudiano ?
Vlachiko red Blachiko, Blachos, Vlahico ?
Voudomato red Voidomata, Voidomati, Voidomatis ?
Vradiano red Bradyano, Vradinia ?
Xeromacherouda red Xeromachairouda, Xeromacheirouda ?
Zalovitiko red Zalobitiko ?

Wine law

Following the French model, controlled designations of origin for the best growing areas were introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture between 1971 and 1972: Maximum yields per hectare, certain grape varieties with preference for autochthonous varieties, minimum must weight, ageing regulations and sensory tests. Enriching the must with sugar is generally permitted, but may increase the alcohol content by a maximum of 2.5% vol. Sweetening may be added before and during fermentation up to a maximum of 25% of the must sugar. Acidification is also permitted and is often practised due to the rather low-acid grapes. Controls are exercised by the KEPO (Central Committee for the Protection of Wine Production).

Wine categories

In August 2009, the EU wine market regulation became valid for all member countries with fundamental changes to the wine designations and quality levels (see also under Quality System). The traditional terms OPAP, OPE and OKP can still be used alternatively, but most winemakers use the new term POP:

  • Oinos (formerly Epitrapezios Oinos or table wine) = wine
  • PGE = Topikos Oinos or country wine
  • POP or alternatively OPAP, OPE, OKP = quality wine

Oinos / Οίνος: Wines without a narrower designation of origin. This lowest quality level mostly involves blends from different growing regions.

PGE / ΠΓΈ (Prostatevomenis Geografikis Endixis / Προστατευόμενης Γεωγραφικής Ένδειξης): Country wine with a protected geographical indication. There are around 80 territorial wine areas, which can cover an entire region, district or communal area. One well-known area is Agioritikos on the "Holy Mountain" in Athos (Halkidikí peninsula).

POP / ΠOΠ (Prostatevomenis Onomasías Proelefsis / Προστατευόμενης Ονομασίας Προέλευσης): Quality wine with protected designation of origin. Alternatively, the old designations OPAP, OPE and OKP are also possible.

OPAP / ΟΠΑΠ (Onomasía Proelefséos Anotéras Piótitos / Ονομασία Προελεύσεως Ανωτέρας Ποιότητος): For these quality wines with "higher quality designation of origin", maximum yield, minimum alcohol content, maturing time in barrel and bottle, etc. are prescribed. The OPAP wines were marked with a red banderole until the 2015 vintage.

OPE / ΟΠΕ (Onomasía Proelefséos Eleghoméni / Ονομασία Προελεύσεως Ελεγχόμενη): These quality wines with "controlled designation of origin" are subject to the same conditions as OPAP wines. In addition, however, there are higher requirements regarding the sugar content. Sweet wines from the historical areas of Kefallonia, Limnos, Patras, Rhodes and Samos are thus declared. They are either "natural sweet wines" fortified with wine spirit or "naturally sweet wines" pressed from dried grapes, which correspond to a Trockenbeerenauslese. The OPE wines were marked with a blue banderole until the 2015 vintage.

OKP / ΟκΠ (Onomasía Katá Parádosi / Ονομασία κατά παράδοση = Traditional Appellation): A special predicate for origin-protected wines produced with traditional pressing methods. There are only two of them, Retsina and Verdea produced on the island of Zakynthos.

Kava (Cava): Name for a top quality wine that has been stored for a longer period of time. White wines must be stored for two years (of which at least 6 months in barrels and six months in bottle), red wines for three years (of which at least 6 months in new oak or 1 year in used oak and 2 years in bottle).

Reserve (Epilegmenos) and Grande Reserve (Idika Epilegmenos): Only permitted for quality wines (OPAP and OPE). Reserve applies to white wines with two years (to. 6 months in barrel and 6 months in bottle) and to red wines with three years of ageing (same minimum). Grande Reserve applies to white wines with at least three years of ageing (1 year in cask and 1 year in bottle) and to red wines with at least four years of ageing (2 years in cask and 2 years in bottle).

Producers

The preference for resinous wine, first and foremost Retsina with about 10% of the wine production, is an ancient Greek tradition. Sweet dessert wines, some of them fortified, are produced on almost all Aegean islands, the best known being Samos from the island of the same name. Equally well known are the aniseed-flavoured brandy ouzo, and Metaxa, a brandy flavoured with a secret blend of herbs (including rose petals). Important producers are Achaia Clauss, Biblia Chora, Boutari, Calligas, Cambas, Domaine Carras, Gaia, Hatzimichalis, Katsaros, Kechri, Kourtakis, Malamatina, Mercouri, Oenoforos, Papaïoannou, Parparoussis, Pavlidis, Skouras, Spiropoulos, Tsantali and Tselepos. Others are listed with the areas.

Greece map: By Pitichinaccio - own work, CC BY 3.0, link
edited by Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer 2/2018

In this section you will find
currently 144,896 Wines and 22,903 Producers, including 2,432 classified producers.
Rating system Their sources in Wine Guide Wine Samples

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