Achaea belongs to the few regions of the world where wine has been successfully cultivated and produced for thousands of years.
In his “Description of Greece”, the ancient geographer Pausanias (c. AD 110 – c. 180) writes about the ancient town of Phelloe, near the modern village Selliana at the municipal unit of Aigeira:
There is a straight road from the sanctuary of Zeus at Aegeira, passing through the mountains and steep. It is forty stades long, and leads to Phelloe, an obscure town, which was not always inhabited even when the Ionians still occupied the land. The district round Phelloe is well suited for the growth of the vine; the rocky parts are covered with oaks, the home of deer and wild boars.Pausanias, Description of Greece (English), 7.26.10
Parts of the following text is adapted from the book “The Wines Of Greece” by Konstantinos Lazarakis MW.
Brief overview of wine in the Peloponnese
Production in the Peloponnese, including Achaia, reached its peak in the Middle Ages when Malvasia wine was exported to the entire then-known world from the port of Monemvasia. The next big step came after World War II when the main viticultural zones were developed, namely in the central and northern regions of the Peloponnese, such as Patras, Mantinia, Nemea, and on the Corinthian coast. Over half the Peloponnesian vineyards are located in Achaia and Corinth.
Protected Designation Of Origin (PDO)
The Peloponnese is the southern-most tip of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a predominantly mountainous region with very few areas of low altitude — mainly the plains in the north. Its climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and long, hot summers. Rainfall is high in the western section in relation to the rest of the peninsula. Factors such as altitude, mountain slopes, aspect and the proximity to the sea create many different mesoclimates.
The Peloponnese has seven Designations of origin, four of which are in the Achaia prefecture: PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, PDO Muscat of Patras, PDO Muscat of Rio Patras and PDO Patras. The other three are PDO Mantinia from Arcadia, PDO Nemea from Corinth and Argolida and PDO Monemvasia-Malvasia from Laconia. Except for the Moschofilero wines, which have the elegance of wines produced in cool climates, most Peloponnesian wines are characterized by the aromas of ripe fruit, herbs and spices, broadness, warmth on the palate and a noticeable acidity
Wine in Achaia
Achaia is one of the largest viticultural zones of Greece in terms of volume. The largest part of Achaia is mountainous with steep slopes; the Aigialia vineyards, for example, extend from an altitude of 250m to 1,050m (820-3,450 ft.), which places them amongst the highest in Greece and Europe. The proximity to the sea, the cool northern winds and the northerly aspect of the vineyards are some of the factors that affect the region’s climate and, hence, the ripening of the dominating roditis variety (also spelled rhoditis) .
The most important parcel of PDO Patras zone is located in the mountainous region of Aigialia and produces elegant wines with high aromatic intensity, perhaps the best expression of the roditis variety. A good PDO Patras wine is rich, lemony, and intense in aroma, with a deep and broad fruity mouthfeel. Its aromas are reminiscent of ripe, honeyed fruit. However, differences are observed in the quality of the production as a whole within the PDO zone. Some mountain locations tend to offer better results in comparison to the lowlands.
The other appellation zones are dedicated to the production of sweet wines. The most significant of these is PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, the most popular fortified, sweet Greek red wine of the Mavrodaphne variety. The others are the PDO Muscat of Patras and the PDO Muscat of rio, which produce dessert, fortified or not wines, exclusively from white Muscat. Apart from the varieties in the PDO zones, Achaia also produces a plethora of both local and international varieties.
The most common whites are Roditis ( or Rhoditis), the local Lagorthi, as well as Malagousia, chardonnay and sauvignon Blanc; reds include the local Mavro Kalavritino, Agiorgitiko, cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and syrah.
Greek native grape varieties of PDO Patras prominent in the vineyards around Aigeira.
Open to visitors wineries near Aigeira.
Within an 1 hr drive from Aigeira about 10 wineries are open to visitors in both Achaea and Corinthia. Head over to The Wine Grower Association of the Peloponnese (ENOAP) for the full list and a short presentation of each one.
Below are the three nearest and are highly recommended visiting.
Aigeira was the hometown of France based businessman Andreas (André) Mentzelopoulos (1915 Patras -1980) who in 1977 purchased the prestigious wine estate of Bordeaux, Château Margaux. The estate still belongs to the family and is now run by his daughter Corinne Mentzelopoulos.