Agiorgitiko (pronounced AYE-yor-YEE-tee-ko) is a captivating grape variety that caresses the senses with elegance, freshness and intensity of aromas and flavours. It is a red grape variety and is frequently referred to as “multi-dynamic”, since it is capable of producing a large range of styles, it is a remarkably versatile grape variety, and is used to make everything from refreshing rosés, delicious dry reds to concentrated sweet wines. Agiorgitiko is the sole variety permitted in the Nemea appellation and performs admirably well in the hot Mediterranean climate there.
Agiorgitiko means “St George’s Grape”, and is probably named by a chapel in Nemea. It is thought to be one of Greece’s oldest varieties, and has been historically associated with the demigod Heracles – Nemea wine is often called the “Blood of Heracles”.
In 2012, Agiorgitiko was the most widely planted red grape variety in Greece with 5,202 hectares in Attica, 3,204 hectares in Peloponnese and additional plantings in Macedonia and Epirus. The grape is most widely associated with the dry and sweet red wines of Nemea in north-eastern Peloponnese. Here the grape is only variety permitted in the Oeni Onomasias Proelefseos Anoteras Poiotitas (OPAP) (a designated wine region similar to the French Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system). In Nemea, the grape is only used for red wine production with its use in making rosé styles of wine prohibited. Around the town of Metsovo in Epirus, the grape is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.
The best examples of Agiorgitiko tend to have moderate to low acidity, with a deep, ruby colour, red fruit aromas and a sweet spicy note. These examples tend to come from vineyards planted in the middle range of the hillside slopes around Nemea with grapes harvested near the top of the 900 metres (3,000 ft) hills being excessively acidic while those harvested from the very warm valley floor often being too “jammy”. The variance in quality of Agiorgitiko from the different vineyards around Nemea have led some Greek wine producers to investigate developing a cru classification system.
Agiorgitiko is all about people looking for a wine proposal for moments of social contact and familiarity. It can be blended with Cabernet sauvignon, in order to get more aging potential. It is a wine that offers gustatory satisfaction but also flexibility, since it can be very good to drink young and, at the same time, have the ability to age it for several years. It is also suitable to be matched with a large variety of dishes that are in line with modern nutritional schemes.