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Idika Epilegmenos

Greek term for Grande Reserve; see under Greece at the quality levels.

The parliamentary republic of Greece in south-east Europe with its capital Athens covers 131,957 km². It borders Albania and North Macedonia to the north, Bulgaria to the north-east and Turkey to the east. The country is located on the eastern Mediterranean and is geographically made up of the Greek mainland at the southern end of the Balkans, the Peloponnese peninsula (separated from the mainland by the construction of the Corinth Canal) and numerous islands.

Griechenland - Landkarte, Flagge und Wappen

The mainland accounts for 106,915 km², 25,042 km² (just under 19%) are spread over 3,054 islands, 87 of which are inhabited. The most important island groups in terms of viticulture are located in the Aegean Sea (e.g. Crete, Lesbos, Limnos, Mykonos, Paros, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Thasos) and in the Ionian Sea (e.g. Kefallonia, Corfu, Lefkada, Kythera, Paxos, Zakynthos). Viticulture is practised on the mainland and on numerous islands. Most of the wine-growing areas are located near the coast.

History

The history of Greek viticulture began with an affair between the supreme god Zeus and the beautiful Seméle (daughter of Harmonia, goddess of harmony), which led to the birth of Dionysus, the god of wine, joy, grapes, fertility and ecstasy. Ancient Greece and, based on archaeological finds, the island of Crete in particular, is regarded as one of the "cradles of European wine culture". Viticulture already existed in the Mycenaean culture in the 16th century BC (Mycenae = north-eastern Peloponnese), as indicated by amphorae that have been found.

Griechenland - Szene aus Platons Symposion und Amphore 500 v. Chr.

Antiquity

Wine was an important part of the drinking culture of everyday life. This was also expressed in the symposia, a drinking event accompanied by witty conversations, jokes, songs, music, games and performances. The painting shows the famous work "Symposion" by Plato (428/427-348/347 BC) with, among others, the participants Aristophanes (450-380 BC) and Socrates (470-399 BC). The Greeks were also among the very first to attach great importance to wine as a valuable commodity. In the Iliad, Homer (8th century BC) already mentions wine as the house drink of the heroes described. The historian Hesiod (~750-680 BC), the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), the naturalist Theophrastus (370-287 BC) and the physician Galen (129-216) also dealt with wine and viticulture.

Colonisation campaigns

On their colonisation campaigns in the Mediterranean, the Greeks brought their grapevines and wine culture to Sicily, southern Italy (known as Oinotria ), southern France and the Black Sea. Many methods were adopted by the Celts and Romans. The Roman poet Virgil described the diversity of grape varieties: "It would be easier to count the grains of sand in Greece than the different grape varieties." The famous harbour town of Monemvasia on the Peloponnese peninsula was used extensively in the late Middle Ages under the rule of Venice as a transshipment point for sweet wines from the Aegean, which were shipped from here to many European countries. The Ottomans ruled the country from the 15th to the mid-19th century, during which time wine lost its importance due to the Muslim ban on alcohol, and was only continued on a relatively small scale on most of the islands. Therefore, some knowledge was preserved.

Modern times

It was not until some time after independence was gained in 1830 and the Turkish influence was pushed back that people in Greece once again began to professionally engage in viticulture as an economic factor and reactivated numerous vineyards at great expense. Among the pioneers were some Germans, such as Gustav Clauss, who founded the huge Achaia Clauss winery in 1861, which still exists today. By the end of the 19th century, the vineyard area had doubled, but when phylloxera finally reached Greece in 1898, much of it was destroyed. Reconstruction was relatively slow because the demand for Greek wine had also fallen sharply in the meantime. Greek viticulture did not experience a renaissance until the end of the military dictatorship in 1974 and Greece's accession to the European Union in 1981.

Climate & Soil

Despite its strongly maritime character, Greece has a very high proportion of mountainous terrain. The soils of limestone, granite and volcanic rock and the prevailing Mediterranean climate with short, mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers have a favourable effect on viticulture. The often dry autumns usually produce fully ripe grapes with relatively low acidity. Most of the wine-growing areas are located near the coast with moderating sea breezes. In order to give the wines more structure, vineyards are deliberately planted at high altitudes. The extended vegetation cycle allows the vines to build up more extract and achieve higher acidity levels. Another effective method of slowing down the ripening process is the deliberate planting of vineyards on north-facing slopes.

Regions & growing areas

Viticulture is practised, often on a small scale on a few hectares, throughout Greece on the mainland and also on all the larger islands. The...

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Sigi Hiss
freier Autor und Weinberater (Fine, Vinum u.a.), Bad Krozingen

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