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The Agiorgitiko Grape


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About Agiorgitiko

(Synonyms: Aghiorghitiko, Mavro Nemeas, Mavro Nem&eactue;a, Mavrostaphylo, Mavraki, Mavroudi Nemeas, Nemeas Mavro)

Background

Map showing the Nemea region of Greece

First off, how to pronounce it: just pronounce the G’s as Y’s:

ah-yor-YEE-ti-ko

The name means “St. George”, and that simpler English form is starting to turn up on bottle labels as more Greek winemakers target the American market.

Agiorgitiko is a red-wine grape originating in the region around Nemea in northeastern Greece (yes, the Nemea of Hercules and the Nemean lion). The grape is today grown principally in the same area, though there are lesser plantings throughout Greece. Any wine labelled “Nemea” must be of 100% Agiorgitiko. It is one of Greece’s two “signature” red wines (the other being Xinomavro).

The grapes are grown everywhere from sea level up to high elevations. It is generally felt that the higher-elevation plantings yield better wine, but it is from difficult to impossible for the average consumer to know which wine came from what elevation vineyard. Agiorgitiko is a royal pain in the vineyard, for numerous reasons. Quite recently, new and supposedly rather better clones of Agiorgitiko have been released, and plantings are slowly being converted. Whether that will have any effect on the resultant wines is unknowable but not likely.

Published descriptions of Agiorgitiko tend to be short and vague, in good part because winemaker styles and vineyards of origin have especially huge influences on the final product, which thus varies considerably from brand to brand. Generally, however, Agiorgitiko wines tend to have clear and positive tones of fruit, but are neither high in acid nor heavy in body; and the tannin level can be all over the lot, depending on the winemaker’s fancies. The wines are generally described as fruity and spicy; plum is sometimes mentioned as the fruit note. The better specimens, described by Oz Clarke as “burly, rugged” wines, can age well, but if care is not taken to avoid oxidation in the winemaking, or if the acid levels are weak, the wines need to be drunk young. (There is now talk of introducing a sub-classification system for Agiorgitiko, to help consumers sort out which specimens are likely to be worth what dollars.)

Agiorgitiko can be and occasionally is used in blended reds, but is chiefly bottled as a monovarietal. Besides making red table wine, however, Agiorgitiko lends itself to the making of rosé and dessert wine, as well as lightweight versions made by carbonic maceration; that is the same technique used to make Beaujolais, and the resulting wines are generally similar.

Factoid: The grape name Agiorgitiko, “St. George”, is likely from the name of one of the many towns in the region also so named, though it could derive from the chapel of Saint George in Nemea; in fact, Nemea was once known as “Agios Georgios”.


Some Descriptions of Agiorgitiko Wines


Some Agiorgitikos to Try

(About this list.)

Mitravelas “Red on Black” Agiorgitiko
(not their plain “Estate”, listed farther below)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Tselepos “Driopi Classic” Nemea

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Gai’a “Agiorgitiko by Gaia”

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Mitravelas Estate Agiorgitiko
(not their “Red on Black Estate”, listed farther above: just the plain “Estate”)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Semeli “Nemea Reserve”

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks


For a Splurge

Our recommended “splurge” wine is Skouras’s “Grand Cuvée”. If you look it up at Wine Searcher, you may wonder why we mention an 89-rated wine as a splurge; it is because the several pro reviews from Jancis Robinson, whom we greatly respect, were very positive. But you only get to see those if you are a “Pro” subscriber to Wine Searcher (or are subscribed to her service).

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks


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This page was last modified on Sunday, 8 December 2019, at 4:57 pm Pacific Time.