The Greek alphabet begins with A and finishes with X. The names of two of the countries greatest red grape varieties also begin with these letters, namely Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro. Both are responsible for some of the most stunning and exciting red wines produced. But at the same time, both are complete opposites.

Agiorgitiko

Agiorgitiko’s true home is the area of Nemea, in the northeast of the Peleponnese. It is also cultivated in other parts, but think of Nemea as a synonym to Agiorgitiko. With about 2800 hectares under vine, it is the largest red wine appellation in Greece. The climate is typical for the Peloponnese with mild winter and scorching summers. The altitude of the vineyards varies from approximately 750 up to 3000 feet. As with many other grape varieties, Agiorgitiko produces the best results when struggling to grow on poor soil. I have seen vineyards in Nemea where large rocks were blasted to make room for vines. Nothing else could possibly grow in such a poor and harsh environment.

I believe Agiorgitiko is best suited to introduce a consumer to the red wines from Greece. I have yet to find a person who was not immediately taken over by it. Its deep colour, extremely open nose of cherries mixed with sweet spices, and rich but finely layered palate ensure its success. It has the Jennifer Aniston effect on people – it is hard not to like her. Agiorgitiko is a charmer with a distinct personality that wins the crowd over. It is never exhausting and can be enjoyed without effort.

The variety produces wines that come in a range of styles: Fresh nouveau wines that are loaded with fruit aromas, medium bodied wines that are soft and charming, and blockbuster masculine wines that are tannic without compromising the fruit character. The majority of Agiorgitiko wines can be kept easily for 3 to 5 years, the top wines will certainly improve for a decade.