The dark-skinned Mavrotgrano, meaning ‘black crisp’, was once almost extinct and now occupying just 2% of the vineyard area on the Greek island of Santorini.
The berries are small, sugar levels high and yields low, and the tannins need careful handling or they will be rustic and tough.
It was originally used to add aroma to the island's sweet wines. Winemaker Haridimos Hatzidakis was the first to experiment with a dry varietal wine while working for Boutari in the mid-1980s. Paris Sigalas, meanwhile, was making an intense and aromatic sweet version. Both growers have regularly produced dry wines since the mid-1990s and have now been joined by a few others, including T-Oinos on the island of Tinos and Evangelos Gerovassiliou in Epanomi on the mainland, who includes a small amount of Mavrotragano with Limnio and Mavroudi in his top red Avaton.
Dry varietal wines are distinctively rich in explosive, wild dark fruit and often earthy and spicy. The best wines are aromatic with fresh acidity and firm, chewy tannins, with a growing following and rising grape prices.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org
Translated by Nina Fan Feng / 冯帆
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