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Discover more about the wine regions Zitsa, Nemea and Santorini in Greece!

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Indigenous Grapes of Greece A Journey through Diversity

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Wine Business during the Coronavirus Lockdowns

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If you are tired of life, then do not bother with Greek wine!

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From The Guardian wines of the week: ​Aivalis Nemea Red

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​Discover more about the wine regions Zitsa, Nemea and Santorini in Greece.!

Indigenous Grapes of Greece A Journey through ​Diversity
 24.05.2020, MM

You probably know Greece as a travel destination. And rightly so. An incredible diversity of landscapes, abundant heartwarming sunshine, refreshing sea breezes, awakening smells, inviting food and most importantly a long thread of connection with an eloquent and often dramatic past, history in continuous evolving mode, all that have made up for a one-off place. Yet there is more to it, a surprising element that adds to this fascinating mosaic of a traveller’s experience. The wealth of living species, flora and fauna ecosystems in Greece are remarkable, making up for the most amazing natural biological laboratory! In particular, grape varieties in actual cultivation are quite possibly the most condensed per surface measure, not only numerically but also in terms of diverse origins. Hold your breath at well over 300 named grape varieties and many more yet unnamed! 

Being at crossroads of people and civilisations, Greece has actively accepted vines and viticultural practices throughout millennia and vine settlements happened silently, yet positively, over time, creating a deep wine culture to date. At this point there exist no grape-producing vines of over 500 years on the Greek island of Santorini and allegedly grape-producing ones of up to 200 years, whereas self rooted autochthonous vines are to be found in many Greek regions, both on the islands and in mainland and of ages ranging from 70 to an impressive 150 years. 

Here are the most representative Greek grapes and some interesting facts about them. As indicated earlier, the list is long and we will endeavour to unfold it at a good pace, so to leave no Greek variety of character in the shade.


This is the most celebrated Greek grape, certainly most widely known than any other variety outside Greece and with the longest commercial history in modern Greek wine chronicles. It has in fact become an International grape by now, as it is also cultivated in Clare Valley, Australia, where the first non-Greek Assyrtiko was bottled in 2014, as well as in California with the first bottling dating in 2015 and there are current plans by a leading Stellenbosch estate of having it planted in South Africa. The power and commercial potential of Assyrtiko have become obvious since the 1930s when at its native Santorini island it was used for the much solicited Vinsanto wine that had a steady demand for exportation.

Vinsanto is a naturally sweet wine, produced originally on this very island in order to be used as the wine of the Holy Communion. Its reputation rose and transferred to continental Europe via the Venetian rulers of the island during the medieval times. This token of appraisal by the courtiers and the starting off yet another Vinsanto tradition in Tuscany, made by red grapes this time, established the wine as a luxury product associated with banquets and celebrations. Santorini, under Italian rule thereafter, continued to export this unique wine and when part of the still young Greek state in the 1930s the tradition kept going. In 1959, a mechanised winery was built on the island by an enthusiast and production volumes continued to increase. This rise in production and reputation happily brings us into the 1980s, the decade of transformation for the Greek wine. An important family of winemakers sees the potential and establishes a winery on the island. Their winery became the greenhouse for the development of a handful of known winemakers associated with the grape and the island’s wine production thereafter. Soon, a forward-thinking winemaker of the era takes the grape outside the island of Santorini and starts planting it in Nemea. Nemea, despite its own long and significant history in Greek wine, as the largest PDO region of the country and homeland of the most cultivated red grape of Greece, Agiorgitiko, stands also important as the first stop of the illustrious trajectory of Assyrtiko outside Santorini, into the Greek vineyard and further on.

What is so good about Assyrtiko? It is a vine-grower’s friendly grape, adaptable to different soils and climates, including extreme heat and drought and resistant to disease. From the winemaking point of view, it retains high acidity despite all adversity during the growing season and long time in the cellar, it has good alcoholic potential and the wine made by it can mature over long periods of time in new and old wooden barrels or other vessels potentially. The engagement of talented winemakers with the grape has yielded excellent examples to date.


Savatiano leagues second in importance by many, as it is the most cultivated white grape variety of Greece, the grape associated with the historic Attican vineyard and very closely with the unique Greek wine style of Retsina (wine flavoured with pine resin). Savatiano’s name derives from the Greek word Σάββατο which defines Saturday or the seventh day of the week and this in turns comes from the Hebrew word שבת or Shabbat. The word was adopted by the Greek populations of Orthodox faith and in variations by other Orthodox Christian populations in the early Byzantine times and it could be that the grape has a similarly long history. It is planted mostly in central Greece, though recently there are plantings also in Northern Greece and the Aegean islands. Other local names of the grape include Dombrena or Doumpraina Aspri, Tsoumprena, Perachoritis, Sakeiko and Kountoura Aspri.

So far it has been used as a staple grape, often in blends, though the grape has an interesting character of its own and can produce refreshing and sometimes substantial mono-varietal wines. The good body and acidity of the grape, though not extreme, together with its summer fruit flavours and distinct botanical notes are the building bricks of truly pleasant and overall food-friendly wines. They range in style from fresh and unoaked to low intervention, skin contact and further on to oaked. Tasting and getting to know the grape is a must for anyone that considers a visit or even more a journey into Greek wine.


If Assyrtiko is the most known and celebrated Greek grape abroad, Agiorgitiko is by far the most known and appreciated by Greeks themselves. It produces fruity, heartwarming red wines, usually matured in barrels for anything between 6 and 24 months, although the range of barrel maturation has extended recently from none to over 24 months. Bearing in mind that Greeks consume more red than white wine and the brand name of the appellation zone of Nemea has been the strongest within the Greek territory, as also the largest PDO region, it comes as no surprise that in the most remote parts of the country, in mainland as well as on the islands and interestingly within other reputable wine-producing zones, the red wines of Nemea are easily available and have loyal followers.

Agiorgitiko offers an all-round proposal when choosing a Greek red wine. With taste characteristics around red fruits, plum, cherry and sour cherry, layers of spice and generally soft tannins, it produces approachable wines. It doesn’t require ages to smoothen out and offers a rather international flavour palette (in particular Southern European) to which many wine drinkers are used, thanks to French, Spanish and Italian wines. Yet, there is a number of styles of Agiorgitiko to be explored, not only from Nemea, with Agiorgitiko plantings just under 4000 hectares but from the rest of Greece as well, from Macedonia to Crete, including sweet and barrel matured Amarone-style wines. A pleaser of a grape that is and so well matching everyday cuisine, especially dishes containing tomato, onion and garlic, ingredients at the core of Greek cooking. No hesitation or second thought here and with a few experimental examples to explore, too!


This is the shining star of the Greek vineyard! An intriguing grape, that needs good care when growing and thought it might be susceptible to wet weather in the vineyard, when healthy, harvested appropriately and treated with a focus in the winery hits admirable heights of body and complexity. Moreover and thanks also to its tight tannins and high acidity, it is suitable for long ageing. If you are a cellar fanatic, there is no better Greek grape to invest your patience on. It is obvious from Xinomavro wines of 30 or more years of age available today, that the potential of slow transformation of flavours, increasing complexity and better integration with time is huge.

In view of these powerful taste elements that the grape exhibits, some winemakers choose to under express it, so the result is a more straightforward, approachable, yet appetising wine. In any form, there is something truly unique about Xinomavro, a stark personality of a grape that can not be confused with any other. And with only four PDO regions growing the grape, the largest and most significant of which is undeniably Naoussa, there is a good incentive to explore the different versions of wine it can produce, either in mono-varietal forms or in blends with other local and often relating grapes. Herein lies indeed another strength of the grape, as the styles of wine Xinomavro can produce are truly diverse, from Pet-Nat to properly sparkling wines and from rose and light reds to bold reds, worth of long ageing and even botrytised sweet wines produced in special years. Xinomavro might not only be the most unforgettable of Greek grapes but also the most diverse!

The grapes of Greece carry many fascinating stories that have been woven throughout centuries and millennia, adding attractive details to the long and so far rather quiet history of Greek wine but most importantly confirming a very long engagement with these autochthonous varieties. If you haven’t tasted them, make the first step now, it is the time! They will soon be trendy and you would have already known and got your palate around them, having had the chance to follow their itinerary to fame. 
 © KudosWines

Wine Business during the Coronavirus Lockdowns
 ​12.04.2020, MM

The wine industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, as most of the European countries had to close their borders and restrict free movement, whilst the United Kingdom has now started following suit. Bars and restaurants were the first businesses that had to comply with the new regulations, in order to safeguard their employees and customers and in a very frantic way due to the high rate of spreading of the new virus. According to Spiros Malandrakis, industry manager for alcoholic drinks at Euromonitor International, another, a major rethink is on the horizon around drinking habits, as consumers reorient their lives around staying indoors and avoiding pubs and bars.  

“This is particularly true of premium drinking habits, as premiumization and trading up have been largely driven by the on-trade over the past decade.” “I’m not saying the industry is over. What we know from history is that people will always continue drinking. It’s not the end of the world but it will be a different world to the one we’re used to.” Nevertheless, some businesses with taking away and online shop options remain “business as usual” and offer attractive delivery arrangements in order to continue trading, even in this challenging period.

In this spirit here at Kudos Wines, we continue to deliver nationwide, and we are also thinking of putting together online tasting courses for our customers that wish to have Greek wine explained and we will keep you updated on this very soon. With a full lockdown on the country already in place, our main priority is to ensure our team and everyone around us stay healthy and connected, whilst you continue to enjoy our fantastic wines and great service. Please feel free to get in touch and let us know if we can do anything further to improve our service and reach out to you in more meaningful ways.

Whilst the government, big industry stakeholders and smaller businesses are all taking steps in their capacity to ensure the financial consequences of this crisis will be addressed efficiently and become soon overcome, we pledge to continue our work in bringing you the most representative and innovative Greek wines available and make Greek wine accessible to all.

In these times of uncertainty in the wine industry, as well as any other industry in the world, we are all ready to make the changes required in order to adapt to the new demands and the new ways consumers relate to drinks. If there were rumours at the beginning of 2020 about new generations changing our perspective on sustainability and the drinks business, we are definitely now at the tipping point. The world is about to change and the wine business, too. We are all prepared, in anticipation and so happy to be sharing this with you. 

© KudosWines

If you are tired of life, then do not bother with ​Greek wine!
 14.03.2020, MM

It is a common remark of people that have travelled to Greece, how lovely everything had been during their stay, including the food and wine they had there. What is that makes such simple experiences as eating and drinking so memorable when in Greece?

Surely the environment has an effect on both the product and the experiencing subject. With the understanding that each place has its own character, one will not fail to observe some truly unique elements of Greece’s landscape, which define also its climate and the diversity of life to be found there. 
The major part of Greece is on a slope and rather on hard, rocky subsoil, which is perfect for the vines. The ripening period is long, assisted by generous sun exposure, overall pleasant temperatures and large diurnal differences. The altitude, which is a given in many places, the sea breezes and the numerous rivers and underground streams provide the necessary cooling elements that contribute to grapes’ good health. Moreover, Greece’s intriguing landscape, that has been the result of major geological events in the past, creates so many habitat enclaves or terroirs, as more widely known, where life tends to get in the rhythm of a complex, as well as harmonious cycle. The terroir, as many of you already know, is a precious and hardly replicated little “lifeworld”, which, thanks to its complexity and the fine interdependency of its numerous organic and inorganic elements, has shaped over millennia some kind of “life wisdom”, self-preservation and durability.

The same environment “magic” is working not only on the grapes, sealing the quality of the produced wine but also on the taster by preparing the senses to receive and appreciate the tasting experience in the best possible way. Food and in particular wine taste better when and where the senses are being treated well as a whole. Expect to enjoy your Greek wine more whilst sitting by the Greek coast and with the sounds and touch of sea breeze reaching you or dining on the Greek plateaus breathing in the fresh air and smell of the nearby forests and invariably under the warming sunlight of Greece. So notable these place-specific influences are, that history and philosophy scholars have gone as far to assume that even the long leaps in existential thinking, scientific observation and artistic development during the Classical Ages can be attributed to that special light clarity, the diverse terrain and the amazing composition of different elements both geological and climatic, that have pushed the human thought further and evolved the culture.

Speaking of culture, there is aplenty associated with Greece and Greek wine. Greece is where wine drinking evolved from a casual act of consumption to a cultural event and social ritual in the Symposia(). Wine drinking rose to levels of religious worshipping and the first and most popular god of wine (*) throughout history was invented by the Greeks, became known worldwide by the name of Dionysus and transferred to the Romans by the (yet Greek) name of Bacchus. Greeks were the first Cru classifiers, the first Sommeliers and one of the most fervent wine traders of human history. But most importantly, Greeks have never ceased tending vines and making wine over the last 6000 years. Under the Ottoman rule, they were willing to be subjected to taxation, in order to keep going with all things that identified them, including winemaking. This inimitable continuous tradition in winemaking, both in times of complacency as well as adversity, is one of the most fascinating elements of Greek wine. Thanks to that cultural wealth and together with the impressive technological changes that the modern era has introduced, the potential of Greek wine is undeniable.

What is more? People, of course. Greek winemakers are a growing batch of dynamic, passionate, self-driven and forward-thinking craftsmen and craftswomen, who are willing to carry over that huge heritage, experiment further with mostly indigenous grape varieties and wine styles and create characterful unique wines. They deserve your attention!

When trying to replicate a pleasurable wine experience you may have had in Greece, remember to check within a range of wines and account of expert comments, where available, as Greek wine is all about diversity. Challenge yourself beyond the only couple of wine options from Greece widely available at this point and only to satisfy the need of something named Greek being on offer, so you can reach out to that original recipe of euphoria. And with the right wine, you may be able to relive the warming sun, the touch of sea breeze and the sound of summer cicadas that filled in that original drinking experience you had back in Greece. 

(*) Gatherings of likely minded, educated citizens with a cultural and philosophical “agenda”.

(**) Other Ancient Greek Wine deities include Methe, the personification of drunkenness, Acratopotes, one of Dionysus companions and drinker of undiluted wine and Amphiktyonis, the goddess of wine and friendship between the nations. 

© KudosWines

From The Guardian wines of the week: 
​Aivalis Nemea Red

David Williams writes in The Guardian “wines of the week” column about the wanderlust Aivalis Nemea Red.

Nemea Aivalis Red, Nemea, Greece 2012
The British wine trade is rather like bookselling in many ways. Both have struggled to come to terms with the harsher realities of 21st-century capitalism, the gentlemanly networks of the past disrupted by the rise of ruthless big business. Fortunately, both too have their little-guy revenge stories, with the recent success of small-press literary publishers very much echoed in wine’s increasingly varied crop of small specialist importers. Set up by Maria Moutsou as a sideline to her profession as a doctor, Southern Wine Roads is typical of the breed, offering a personal collection of producers from Moutsou’s native Greece, of which this velvety red plum and bergamot-scented red is a highlight. 
Since establishing his winery in 1997 and with his very first cuvees, Christos Aivalis has reinvented the style of Nemea. A civil servant by daily occupation and profound wine lover has managed to transfuse this dedication to his son, Sotiris, now a most capable winemaker himself, who assists him in the winery. He has acquired old vineyard plots in the most admirable parts of the zone. The plants there are autochthonous and grow naturally without irrigation or fertilisers. Some of them are as old as 120 years and a good number is reaching the age of 70years. The majority of them lie at an altitude of 600m and over rock and fossilized soil. He produces all his Agiorgitiko labels with single-vineyard identification, to be able to express the different terroirs’ characteristics. He vinifies with natural yeasts and bottles all his red wines unfined and unfiltered.

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