You don‘t need a reason, but here’s one

You rarely need a reason to open a good bottle of wine. But today, the 15’th of May, on International Xynisteri Day, we have an extra reason to enjoy a grape that has lived in the shadows for so long but is finally coming out into the light.

A grape from Cyprus

Xynisteri is a unique grape found in Cyprus. It has existed there for several thousand years. Thanks to Cyprus’ location, it has never been affected by the dreaded Phylloxera, so it’s not unusual to find vines that are a century old.
The light green grape grows in clusters and the berries are of medium size. It is known for its durability against wine diseases. Maybe that’s one reason why it’s so popular. But also for its unique character.

A part of Commandaria

For a long time, this grape was best known for being part of the ancient and famous drink Commandaria. But nowadays you can find many white wines made from 100% Xynisteri. A well-made Xynesteri is light, fresh with lots of fruit, citrus, white peaches and light plums.
Some winemakers are also experimenting with barrel ageing, which gives a deeper, rounder flavour. But, as always with these light and fresh grapes, this must be done with a light hand so as not to weigh down the finer nuances of this elegant grape.
As I mentioned, for a long time Xynisteri was along with Mavro, part of Commandaria. But nowadays, more and more producers are making Cyprus’ most famous dessert wine from virtually only Xynisteri. These Commandaria are lighter in colour and usually more refreshing in taste, in my opinion.

A new dawn

Whether you try a white dry Xynisteri (preferably with fish or a salad) or a Commandaria made from 100% Xynisteri, (and now it’s time to pick up the aged cheese) I promise you will enjoy the elegance and freshness.
It is the most widely planted grape in Cyprus, so the conditions are favourable to try out several different producers. You will then also experience how this grape gives completely different characters depending on where it is grown. Things like altitude, soil, and, as always, the winemaker, influence the flavour and character of this rediscovered ancient grape.
Wine is history, is art, is the story of civilisation and culture. A bottle of Xynisteri is also the story of Cyprus, an island of sun, beauty and love

Maria Scharffenberg
Sommelier and Teacher