Cyprus: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Cyprus has never been invaded by phylloxera, and its ungrafted vines are still protected by strict quarantine—slowing the introduction of international varieties. By 2012, even after considerable restructuring, 3,973 ha/9,815 acres of the island’s 9,000 ha of wine-grape vineyards were still planted with the indigenous and rather unexciting grape mavro , so common that its name simply means ‘black’, while the local xynisteri accounts for another 2,064 ha. Xynisteri can make appealing, delicate dry whites if grown at high elevations, and occasionally more serious styles. Shiraz/Syrah (286 ha) has overtaken Cabernet Sauvignon (229 ha), Cabernet Franc (187 ha), and Carignan (226 ha) as the most significant incomer, having proved well suited to the island’s hot, dry soils. indigenous Maratheftiko (known as Vamvakada around Pitsilia) (165 ha) is making increasingly interesting and impressive reds where efforts have been put into vineyard management, while tannic Lefkada can add some local spice to blends. Ophthalmo is another local red grown on 102 ha and, while better than Mavro, it does not produce wines of great interest. Other white wine varieties include Sultanina (507 ha), often vinified for wine though unexciting, followed by Chardonnay (114 ha), and Muscat of Alexandria (100 ha), with limited plantings of Palomino, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.