It is difficult to imagine a gourmet dinner or a lunch without wine and when it comes to wines, Greece is counted among the forerunners.
Counted among the most ancient Greek grape varieties Athiri white wine just takes you to heaven!
As the name of the grape indicates its origin is said to be from the Island of Santorini, also famous as Thira in olden times.
Athiri is found in other regions in Greece, which includes the famous cities of Macedonia, Attica and Rhodes. In fact its close connection with Rhodes has resulted in the use of Rhodes as a synonym for the grape.
The Athiri grape has a shiny, golden shade of green. These grapes have a thin skin and produces sweet and fruity juice.
The grape is distinguished for its lemon character and tends to make wines with delicate aromatic qualities comprising of medium alcoholic content with low acidity.
This makes them suitable for blending with other varieties.
Athiri is cultivated in the Aegean Islands and is significant in Crete as well. Nevertheless, quite a good number of vineyards are present on the mainland, most prominently in Macedonia, specifically in Halkidiki.
Its wine has this fruity and refreshing taste, a pleasing aroma and vibrant color and it feels as if it is caressing the connoisseur’s senses. Thanks to the type of vine and climatic conditions, the yield per acre is small but still Athiri is by far the most commonly planted white variety on the island. This proves that it is quite in demand!
These days Athiri wine is usually used as a blending component where it considers Assyrtiko, Aidani, Vilana and Ladikino as its permanent lovers!
In Rhodes the Athiri is vinified alone and made into one of Greece’s only champagne method sparkling wines.
The last few years have seen a spurt in the production of mono-variety Athiri as a still wine, often using the extended skin contact and cool fermentations to bring out the grape’s playful aromatic character.
This variety is very productive and at the same time vigorous. It requires short pruning and produces two grapes per fruit stems which are usually found in the third and fifth node.
It is fairly resistant to mildew which makes it very sensitive. It belongs to the early maturing type and is famous as one of the best white Greek wines.
The grapes are usually of moderate shape and of standard density. The berries or the grapes are of medium size, and spherical in shape.
The bark is a shade of green, the skin is flexible and thin, the inside or the flesh is soft, colorless and juicy and of fine characteristic aroma.
You can pair it with loads of delicious dishes. With Athiri not being known for producing overly complex wines it can be matched with a selection of simple mezze: kalamata olives, fava beans, fried vegetables, and perhaps melitzanosalata (eggplant salad).
However, Greeks love to have Athiri especially on a warm summer lunch. Be particularly careful not to pair with any dish containing a considerable vinegar or lemon juice element as this will make the wine taste a little flat.
Using Athiri wines as an aperitif before dinner and without food is recommended by many food fiestas. Grilled vegetable, salads, Athiri wine goes perfectly with them!
Athiri in fact, with no doubt makes for a superb introduction to Greek white wine with its easy-drinking, accessible character.
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
I have been online since it all began, with blogging and creating websites. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one of my passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂
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