The viticultural bastion of Kotsifali red wine grape
is the island of Crete
. It is mainly grown in the Heraklion Prefecture and sporadically on the Cyclades islands. Kotsifali single varietal wines bear all the hallmarks of traditional “Southern Mediterranean” wines: low in colour, relatively high in alcohol, with smooth tannins and soft acidity. Kotsifali finds in the other major red grape variety of Crete, Mandilari
(aka Mandilaria) the perfect complementary blending partner:
In addition to augmenting Kotsifali ‘s tannin content and tempering its alcoholic strength, Mandilari deepens the colour in wine blend and makes it more ageworthy. Crete’s major Appellations of Peza and Arhanes actually stipulate that Kotsifali should be blended with Mandilaria (typically on a 80/20 to 60/40 proportions)
Growers in Crete, locked for years into cooperative economies & practices, have been slow to explore the potential of low-yield farming. Those who moved on to apply modern vineyard practices have been rewarded with superior wines. Domaine Lyrarakis
is one of the best exponents of the variety, blending it with Mandilari, and with Syrah
in two different bottlings.
All showcase the great potential of the grape in both modern and traditional styles. Indeed the current wine-making style of Kotsifali emphasises streamlined, polished tannins and reflects the desire to yield, fruity, forward-drinking , graceful and subtle wines.
For any one wanting to get to grips with the soul of red wine in Crete, Kotsifali is the prime example.