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Greek Grape Varietals

Agiorgitiko

[ag-ee-or-GEE-tee-koh]

Also known as St. George, Agiorgitiko is one of the most famous Greek red varieties. Grown on the hillsides of Nemea for more than 2,500 years, the reds from this area have sometimes been known as "the blood of Hercules," purported to have given him the strength to slay the infamous Lion of Nemea. Agiorgitiko produces food-friendly wines such as Kouros Nemea - elegant, medium-bodied, with a core of fresh berries and plums and balancing tannins. For every-day drinking, try the Agiorgitiko-Nemea, available in 750ml or 1.5L.  It is made in a modern style; smooth, flavorful and with a rich aroma.

Pair with roasted meats and lamb, or cheeses.

Assyrtiko

[ah-SEER-tee-koh]

Assyrtiko is the most famous white grape grown on the island of Santorini. Here, it produces a crisp white with citrus flavors and mineral overtones that pairs well with seafood and poultry. Assyrtiko is also grown on the mainland. In Drama in northern Greece, Domaine Costa Lazaridi produces the delicious Chateau Julia Assyrtiko, and also blends Assyrtiko with the traditional Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon varieties to produce Amethystos white. In southern Greece, Geromilos Farms combines Assyrtiko with Chardonnay to produce Dimitra Chardonnay-Assyrtico

Pair with grilled seafood, salads, or white meats.

Kotsifali and Mandilaria

[coat-see-FAH-lee] and [man-dee-LAR-ee-ah]

Two of the most important red grape varieties from the Aegean Islands. Kotsifali is native to Crete and produces high alcohol levels but not very intense color, while Mandilaria, native to Crete and other Aegean islands, has intense color, but low alcohol. Together they produce lovely soft, juicy wines such as Kourtaki Vin De Crete red, which is medium-bodied and pleasant with flavors of ripe berries and soft tannins.

Pairs with barbeques and pasta.

Lagorthi

[la-go-RTH-ee]

Lagorthi is an ancient Greek white variety from the Kalavrita and Aigialia highlands regions of the Peloponnese, and was rescued from extinction by Angelos Rouvalis of Oenoforos. His Mikros Vorias Lagorthi is a dry white with flavors of exotic fruits mingling delightfully with mountain herbs.

Pairs with green salads, appetizers and shellfish.

Limnio

[LIM -nee-oh]

Limnio is a red grape that grows on the Aegean island of Limnos and throughout northern Greece. On its own, the grape produces very full-bodied wines with a high alcohol content. Domaine Costa Lazaridi blends Limnio with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to produce the Amethystos red, arguably Greece's best red. It is velvety with flavors of red forest fruits, notably blackberry and gooseberry.

Pairs with roasts, game and matured cheeses.

Mavrodaphne

[mav-row-DAF-nee]

Mavrodaphne ("black laurel") flourishes in Patras and is blended with Korinthiaki, the raisin grape, to produce one of Greece's most famous dessert wines. Kourtaki Mavrodaphne of Patras, is luscious and port-like, but fruitier.

Pairs with fruit, cheeses, chocolate, and pastries.

Moscofilero

[mos-koh-FEE-ler-oh]

Although pink skinned, the Moscofilero grapes grown on the Mantinia Plateau, 600-700 meters above sea level, produce flavorful white wines. The Kourtaki Moscofilero-Mantinia is crisp and refreshing with a lively, refined fruity taste and delicate bouquet.

Pairs well with seafood, white meats, salads and appetizers, or on its own.

Muscat of Samos

[MUSS-cat]

The Muscat of Samos is a very sweet white grape native to the eastern Aegean island of Samos. It produces a lovely sweet dessert wine renown worldwide. France is the largest export market. The Kourtaki Samos Muscat is a lovely dessert wine with honey-like sweetness, and flavors of golden raisin, apricot and orange.

Pairs with Greek desserts, fruit and pastries

Roditis

[row-DEE-tis]

The name "Roditis" stems from the Greek word "rodon" (rose). The pink-skinned or perhaps rose-colored Roditis grapes that grow on the north-facing slopes above Patras in appellation controlled vineyards produce an elegant, delicate crisp white. Legend has it that Caesar wooed Cleopatra with the lovely white wines from Patras. Two excellent examples are Kouros Patras which is light, crisp and elegant with pear-like fruitiness and a hint of melon at the finish, and Asprolithi Patras with flavors of exotic fruits with a strong backbone of citrus and a hint of minerality.

Kouros Patras pairs perfectly with sushi, also grilled fish and white meats. Asprolithi Patras pairs beautifully with seafood, shellfish and appetizers.

Savatiano

[sah-VAH-tee-an-oh]

Savatiano is Greece's most commonly planted white variety. It produces excellent, low-cost crisp wines with floral aromas, that go well with food, and is the base wine for Retsina. The best Retsinas are produced from Savatiano grown in Attica, and are labeled with a designation of origin. Kourtaki Retsina of Attica is the Greek's first choice, and is dry with a slightly piquant flavor and the characteristic hint of pine resin. For a delicious bargain-priced, non-resinated white, try Apelia white which is a blend of Savatiano and Roditis. It is fresh and flavorful with a fruity bouquet and light crisp finish.

Pair Apelia white with fish, white meats and salads. Pair Kourtaki Retsina with Greek appetizers, "meze."

Vilana

[vee-LAH-nah]

Vilana is native to the Island of Crete and produces value-priced refreshing white wines with green-apple flavors. Kourtaki Vin De Crete white is flavorful and crisp, with flavors of green apples and hints of orange blossoms.

Pairs perfectly with grilled fish and appetizers.

Xinomavro

[zee-no-MAV-row]

Xinomavro, literally "acid black," is the dominate northern Greek red varietal. When softened in oak barrels, the full-bodied reds produced from this grape have intense fruit flavors and can be cellared for many years. Domaine Chrisohoou located in the legendary Naoussa region of northern Greece is an outstanding producer of Xinomavro and Xinomavro-Merlot wines. Chrisohoou Xinomavro, aged 12 months in oak, has mellow cherry, vanilla and black fruit flavors, hints of tobacco and coffee, and is easy to drink. Estate Chrisohoou and Cava Chrisohoou are aged 18 months in oak, then 2 years in the bottle. Estate Chrisohoou is 100% Xinomavro, and is rich, with complex aromas and flavors of cherry, vanilla and raspberry, balancing tannins and a long finish. Cava Chrisohoou is a blend of Xinomavro and Merlot and is velvety with harmonious black fruit and vanilla flavors, hints of tobacco and coffee, balancing tannins, and a long flavorful finish.

Pair the lighter Xinomavro with red meats and pasta. Pair the Estate or Cava with lamb, red meats and hearty dishes.