Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Greece is the birthplace of  quite a few indigenous grape varieties from the notorious  white Assyrtiko to  the noble red  Xinomavro, but none of them hold the title of most planted grape in all of Greece.  That honor falls to the Savatiano grape, which is planted on about 50,000 acres of land throughout the country.

This may come as a surprise to many people, because it can be a little difficult to find wines made from the Savatiano grape.  Most wine shops around the world are starting to carry at least one Assyrtiko based wine and one Agiorgitiko, but Savatiano-based wines seem to be much more difficult to come by.  If these wines are so hard to find, then how is it that Savatiano is planted on so much land in Greece?  The answer could  be summed up in one word: Retsina! The top selling traditional wine of Greece!

if you ask me, there's nothing better than a bottle of good old chilled Retsina with loads of Greek - Mediterranean mezedes and a couple of good friends to share it...

Savatiano is the most commonly used grape for Retsina production, but since it is naturally low in acid, it is often bolstered by other high-acid white Greek grapes like Assyrtiko for better balance.  Savatiano is the grape of choice not only because of the quality of the finished product, but rather because it is also extraordinarily resistant to drought conditions, which can be severe in some regions of Greece.  

The region of Attica (which encompasses the peninsula around the city of Athens), where most Savatiano is grown has long, dry summers with very little rainfall.  It is not quite as arid as the desert conditions on the island of Santorini, but during the summer months, precipitation averages from around a tenth of an inch to less than half an inch between June and September, and many areas only average about 14 inches of rain per year.  

Savatiano not only endures in these conditions, but thrives in them.

Most of the Savatiano grown in Greece goes into Retsina production mostly by the large producers, but there are actually  some very good producers, who know how to handle Savatiano and they  make "regular", non-resinated dry wines from this wonderful  grape as well.

Mark a few names as your best option like Vassilis Papagiannakos, J. Boutari, Roxanne Matsa & Petros Nomikos and next time your apperite for a decent white wine leads you to the nearest liquor store, just look for a Savatiano, either in its varietal version or even blended with Assyrtiko...and remember my words!!




No comments: