"A PLACE FULL OF WINE" HOMER
Peloponnese is the department of southern Greece looking almost like an island but yet connected to the mainland, through the Corinth Canal.
Its unique shape, the long shorelines, the high mountains and the plains in between, create a varied topography, which makes it difficult to generalize about its climate. Nevertheless, it is considered to be Mediterranean, with lengthy autumns, easy and pleasant winters, mild springs, hot and dry summers. The western part of Peloponnese receives more rainfalls.
Grape cultivation has been present in the area for at least 4000 years, even though Peloponnese was not that famous for its wine exports like the Aegean islands and Thrace. It was actually the period during which Malvasia wine started being produced in Monemvasia and exported worldwide by its port, until the 16th century.
The biggest part of plantations was and still remains the varieties of Korinthiaki (black) and Soultanina (white), whose grapes are edible. In specific areas like Pyrgos, Patras and the Ionian island of Zakynthos, the main income was gained from raisin trade of these two varieties. Today, Peloponnese is one of the most impressive vine-growing regions, with many producers and well-established wineries, investing on the vinification of the local as well the international grape varieties, planted in the area.
Corinth is the closest area to Athens and also an important red wine supplier of Greece. The famous Nemea area, where some of Greece’s most stunning red wines are produced and the PDO Nemea appellation, from the red grape variety Agiorgitiko (grape of Saint George), named after “Agios Georgios”, are the proof of it. In antiquity, Nemea was producing the famous “Fliasios oinos”.
ST GEORGE CHURCH, NEMEA
Agiorgitiko is a “multidynamic”grape variety, which can produce great examples of dry wines, like fresh and fruity rosé wines, nouveau style reds, matured reds with long ageing potential, as long as expressive dessert wines. It’s characteristic aromas of red and black berries, plum and violet, the moderately deep, purple red color, the soft tannins and medium to high acidity, contribute to the great reputation that both Agiorgitiko, and PDO Nemea wines have acquired throughout the years.
Apart from Nemea, PDO Nemea wines are also produced in the neighboring Argolida, located south of Corinth, bordering the cool climate Arcadia on the west.
Arcadia, is located in the heart of the Peloponnese, close to the historic city of Tripoli, and is completely surrounded by high mountains. The pink-skinned Moschofilero almost dominates the area, and produces PDO Mantinia wines, with floral profile and characteristic flavours of rose petals dominating, medium body and noticeable, crispy acidity. Nowadays, there are great examples of dry white wines, refined rosé wines and interesting sparkling ones, vinified with the traditional method of Champagne. Often enough, Moschofilero grapes have to struggle facing late frosts and extremely cool weather conditions, that can delay the ripening even more, thus sometimes the harvest can continue until early November. Other white grape varieties cultivated in the area, are Asproudes.
Laconia is located in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese, including the renowned Monemvasia port, which was also known as the “Gibraltar of the East”.
Malvasia wine was produced in the area for centuries, and still does, under the appellation PDO Monemvasia-Malvasia, appellation which was released in 1994, and is made by Monemvasia grapes – at least 51%, blended with the powerful Assyrtiko, the up-and-coming Kydonitsa and the indigenous Asproudes grape varieties, in still white, sweet or fortified style.
Messinia is located in the south-west part of Peloponnese and is more influenced by the Ionian sea. So, in Messinia we may find a lot of varieties from the Ionian islands as well as a lot of indigenous varieties of the rest of Peloponnese and many international ones. There are no PDO appellations only PGI’s.
Ilia is in the north-west of Peloponnese, also receiving a lot of rainfalls, so humidity can be a problem for the viticulture in the area. Ilia was quite famous for the raisin production and have been commercially connected to Patras and Messinia for trade reasons. Apart from plantations of Mavrodaphne, which can be found here, Refosco is the gem of the area, introduced in 1870s by a local producer, who brought it from Italy.
Achaia, with the big city of Patras, has a total vineyard acreage of more than 5,000 he. There are four PDO appellations in the area, a general PDO Patras, PDO Muscat of Patras, PDO Muscat of Rio Patras, and the most well-known, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras.
Mavrodaphne of Patras appears to be registered as a different variety than Mavrodaphne of Kefalonia. Roditis, is the star of the department with numerous plantations, showing its best racy expressions in high-altitude vineyards, like the ones cultivated on the slopes of Aigialia (PGI), where it gives its best expression, in elegant white wines, with crispy acidity.
A bit higher in Kalavryta, Mavro Kalavrytino (Black of Kalavryta) is a rare variety that was rescued and planted by local producers, giving wines with medium body and intensive aromatic profile of black fruits.
Korinthiaki raisin remains the number one edible grape variety cultivated in Patras area. Its importance in financial terms for the trade of Patras is still tremendous. Apart from the plethora of indigenous varieties found almost extinct in the villages of Achaia, a lot of international ones, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay etc., are also cultivated.
PDO Mantinia, PDO Nemea, PDO Patra, PDO Mavrodaphni of Patra, PDO Muscat of Patra, PDO Muscat of Rio Patra, PDO Monemvasia – Malvasia
PGI Peloponnese, PGI Achaia, PGI Slopes of Aigialia, PGI Ilia, PGI Pisatis, PGI Letrinoi, PGI Messinia, PGI Trifilia, PGI Pylia, PGI Lakonia, PGI Arkadia, PGI Tegea, PGI Argolida, PGI Korinthos, PGI Klimenti
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