The second Cretan Wine Fair, OiNotika, with the participation of twenty-five wineries took place in Athens last weekend.
The exhibition included seminars and wine tasting, while special attention was devoted to two cherished grapes, Liatiko and Vidiano. Litiako is one of the oldest vines on the island (in the region of Sitia, for instance, it was never affected by phylloxera), while Vidiano is the aromatic local white. Two varieties that are making the world take Cretan wines more seriously. You can read more about Cretan wines here.
Another important subject of the exhibition was the relationship between wine and tourism. Each year, more and more visitors arrive in Crete in search of its wines.
Wine-enthusiasts arrive determined to taste specific labels, while tour operators are offering specifically designed holidays with activities related to wine.
Wine tourism on the island is closely related to sustainability, with an increasing amount of wineries devoted to biological and organic wines.
Respect for the environment has turned into a landmark for Cretan producers. Many of them have banned pesticides and are working towards a responsible promotion of tourist activities in Crete.
Women in the wine industry
Women are increasingly more prominent in the wine industry of Crete. There are many women producers in the prefecture of Chania. In Heraklion, women work with innovative biodynamic methods.
Female wine experts, sommeliers, and educators start to populate the industry, changing a masculine scene which has deep roots on the island. Women have undertaken the task of making wine accessible and enjoyable to all.
What to taste this year
Wines from traditional family wineries are always strong on the island. Their quality is supported by countless years of experience. At the same time, they have invested in innovation, experimenting with biological and organic production. Some have rescued ancient vines saving them from extinction.
Producers feared the worst as the weather did not follow a regular pattern this season. Heavy snow in winter was followed by a heatwave just before the harvest.
However, these weather conditions brought unique characteristics. Consumers will probably hear more about fresh – almost sparkling – crispy dry whites and pleasant acidity levels.
Going beyond labels, and just focusing on varieties, the harvest 2017 is bound to mark a renewed interest for Malvasia di Candia, a boost of non-oaked, young reds (Mandilari) but also surprising blends, such as Thrapsathiri-Vilana, or Assyrtiko-Vidiano.