About this WINE
Domaine Lyrarakis, established in 1966, is located in the mountainous commune of Alagni (440 metres above sea-level), south of the city of Heraklion, in Crete. The well-preserved 14th-century stone-presses in the fields around the winery are testament to the area’s long history of grape-growing and winemaking.
The winery is at the forefront of viticultural innovation, championing obscure local varieties such as the ancient white cultivars of Plytó, Dafni, and Vidiano, that it rescued from extinction.
The winery’s extensive portfolio consists of a range of monovarietal wines (Vidiano, Plytó, Mandilari, Assyrtiko, Vilana, Thrapsathiri, Kotsifali) – some from single, “premium” vineyard plots, as well as blends of indigenous and international varieties (such as Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot). Quality remains key and the style emphasises fruit precision, purity and supple texture – placing the wines firmly in the modern camp, yet without flamboyance or exaggeration.
Crete is the steam engine of Greek wine production, with 50,000ha and one bottle out of every five in the country. The influence of co-operatives is still strong, in contrast to the mainland Greece, where boutique wineries and independent producers have already had a revolutionising presence over the past two decades.
Wine styles have evolved from the heady, rustic, alcoholic, slightly oxidative reds of the past, to fresh, clean, forward drinking red and whites, thanks to modern techniques in both the vineyard and the winery and the development of new plantings in higher, cooler altitudes.
Local Grape Varieties
A significant white in Crete is Vilana, mainly in the appellations of Peza and Sitia. At high altitudes, it can give refreshing, dry, peppery and floral whites.
Other niche, traditional varieties include the dry aromatic whites Plyto and Dafni, saved from extinction by the pioneering Lyrarakis winery.
Kotsifali, the signature red grape of Crete, can be aromatic and high in alcohol. Mandilaria makes the perfect blending partner enhancing tannins and colour. It is often married together with Kotsifali, the latter may be also vinified with Syrah.
Another local speciality (especially in the east region of Sitia) is the red Liatiko, similar to the Aglianico. It can be vinified into delicious, dry reds, but the most promising way forward is sweet wines from sun-dried grapes.
Malvasia di Candia represents both a grape variety and an ancient wine style from Crete with its heydays dating back to the Venetian occupation of the island. This variety gives wines with rich aromas, intense grape & floral flavours. Its comtemporaty incarnation comes with “Malvasia di Candia Aromatica” clone in Crete.
Thrapsathiri is an ancient grape variety originating from Crete and it was originally thought to be related to the Aegian island white variety Athiri. Recent DNA evidence shows that Thrapsathiri is not connected to Athiri, but rather is identical to the local grape Begleri of the Cyclades, and closely related to another grape from Crete, Vidiano. Currently found in vineyards in the two eastern-most districts of Crete (Heraklion and Lassithi) but it is also permitted in the south-east region of Lakonia in Peloponesse.
In the past it formed blends with Vilana, another indigenous grape in Crete, but it is now increasingly vinified on its own, although in some recent bottlings, it is also found in partnership with Sauvignon Blanc. It can stand up well to barrel fermentation and maturation.
The resulting wine is distinctive and aromatic, full-bodied with intense citrus and peach overtones and an interesting proposition for those looking for something new to discover.
The name derives from the ancient Greek word "thrapseros" (meaning prolific, productive) and Athiri (a variety widely planted throughout Aegean).
However, it is worth noting that the dominant and high-productive white varieties in Crete were in the 12th - 18th centuries identified by the umbrella term “thrapsa”, and these include the local Vilana, Athiri, and the historic Malvasia di Candia, which together with Thrapsathiri were some of the many components of the ancient Malvasia of Crete sweet wine which in turn was one of the most prized exports from the island in the medieval times.