Vineyards of Aigialeia
The vineyards of Aigialeia, the mountainous area on the north coast of the Peloponnese, are among the most beautiful in Greece and the only ones – apart from those of Samos – that both face north and are within sight of the sea. In fact, according to the great lady of Greek wine, Stavroula Kourakou, they are among the most interesting wine-growing zones in the world.
Planted on the gentle northern slopes of Mounts Panachaikon, Klokos and Helmos in the region of Achaia, they receive cool breezes from the Gulf of Corinth during the summer, while the mountains protect them from the hot and damp winds from the south. They are to be found at an altitude of 250 to 850 m above sea level (mountainous and semi-mountainous areas), while the soil varies from white limestone to fertile sandy clay but with good drainage. The presence of a large number of lush gorges and gullies, with their small streams that flow into the sea, also contributes to the mild climate. The vine growing area of Aigialeia covers 5,000 hectares, of which 4,000 are devoted to raisins and sultanas, 900 to Roditis wine grapes and another 100 to other varieties.
The rosy wine grape Roditis is one of the oldest native varieties and a uniquely distinctive one at that. Although it’s cultivated in many parts of Greece, the largest concentrations of this type of Roditis are in the Peloponnese, Thessaloniki and Halkidiki.
As Angelos Rouvalis, the man who first promoted the Roditis of Aigialeia in the 90s, tells us:
“Roditis has been misunderstood in the last few decades. In recent years nurseries have been supplying Greek vineyards – which had to renew their stock owing to phylloxera – unwisely. They have been offering the more productive green Roditis, which gives far larger quantities but mediocre wines. There are Roditis which yield as much as 4,000 kilos per 100 metres, while our local rosy Roditis never exceeds 800 kilos.
“The Aigialeia Roditis produces high quality wines. It combines a full body with the right amount of acidity and it ages very well. It is aromatic, without being excessively so unlike many aromatic varietals; it has a fruity complex aroma, and goes well with food. This is why it’s a table wine par excellence, complementing a wide spectrum of dishes (salads, oil-based stews, pulses, pasta, fish and white meats). Curiously, its taste is appreciated far more abroad than here in Greece. Roditis gives its best results when grown at altitudes higher than 300-400 metres”.
The wineries of Aigialeia that use the Roditis grape as well as other local varieties like Lagorthi, Sideritis, Mavro Kalvrytino and foreign varieties are Oenoforos, Rira, Cavino, Acheon Winery, Tetramythos and Karanikola, in addition to Rouvalis.