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Wine has been a part of Peloponnese culture in Greece for thousands of years. The first written reference comes from Homer, who referred to the region as “Apeloessa,” “full of vines.” It has managed to survive centuries of war and occupation, even Phylloxera. The only real threat to wine production came in the early 20th century, when the export market for local currants briefly overtook grape cultivation. After World War II, wine once again became an important industry. This is a region where old and new wine methods meet.
Nemea is considered one of the most important regions on the mainland. This is where the red Agiorghitiko shines, producing wines of deep color, layered complexity and rounded flavors. The Nemea appellation is 100% Agiorghitiko. This grape is also important around the town of Argos, in Argolida. Styles of Agiorghitiko wine range from medium-bodied and fruity to full-bodied, with more oak influence and longer ageing.
The steep elevations of Mantinia produce high quality wines from the red Moschofilero grape. The Mantinia appellation is at least 85% Moschofilero with small percentages of Asproudes. This subregion also produces aromatic white wines from Muscat and Gewürztraminer.
Patras, within the Achaia subregion produces four appellations: Patra, is made from the dry white Roditis grape. The other prevalent wines are sweet, the white dessert wines Moschato Patron and Moschato Rio and the fortified red Mavrodaphne from the Mavrodaphne and Korinthiaki varietals.
Eleia and Egio are the most modern subregions, with Italian and French influences in viticulture and grape selection. In Eleia, the red Refosco (here sometimes referred to as Rifosco Merkouris) is the dominant varietal, with Avgoustiatis and the international grape Mourvedre. Whites are a mix of Ribolla Gialla, Roditis and Viognier. In Egio, a mix of Greek varietals and international ones, such as Riesling and Chardonnay have become popular.
Lakonia was once considered the nucleus of Greek Malvasia production. This varietal has largely been substituted in favor of more popular varietals, both local and international. For whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, along with Asproudi, Asyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani Aspro and Malgousia. Wineries here have also embraced organic production, particularly with the red Agiorghitiko.
Wines in Messinia have moved toward blending popular Bordeaux varietals with Greek ones. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are punctuated with Mandilaria and Agiorghitiko, producing well-structured reds with excellent fruit, spice and earthy layers of flavor. ~Amanda Schuster
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