This very rare, old Greek variety probably comes from the area north of Monemvasia, an island and once an important port in Laconia, the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese.
Kydonista, or Kidonitsa, meaning 'little quince' and named for its characteristic aroma and flavour, had been almost forgotten until one or two dedicated producers made a concerted effort to restore its fortunes. They value the grape not only for its potential to make fresh, aromatic dry varietal wines but also as a probable component in the legendary blended sweet wine made from sun-dried grapes and known historically as Malvasia – an intense, honeyed and apricot-laden but fresh wine now protected under the appellation Monemvasia-Malvasia. (The name Malvasia is particularly confusing because it is also used for various grape varieties in several European countries.)
Dry Kydonitsa tends to have a quince-like tang but may lean towards flavours of citrus and apricot, sometimes lightly floral.
The few producers who make a varietal Kydonitsa include George and Elli Tsibidis at Monemvasia Winery, as well as Yiannis Vatistas and, in Sparta a little further north, Theodorakakos.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org
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