Cyprus - the Mediterranean island in the sun-drenched southeast of Europe - is often considered one of the pioneers in winemaking. Archaeological evidence suggests that wine has been made on the island for more than 5000 years. In ancient times, Cyprus was amongst the noteworthy producers of wine and had high prestige in the Roman and Byzantine Empires and during the Middle Ages.
The sweet Commandaria of Cyprus is a testament of that. It has a reputation as one of the classic, sweet wines of the world. The wine is made from two local grapes, the black Mavro Ambelisimo and the white Xynisteri. The grapes are grown on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, about 30 kilometers north of Limassol, in poor volcanic soil. 14 villages are entitled to make Commandaria. The wine growers in Cyprus are lucky; there is no phylloxera on the island so no grafting on American rootstock is necessary.
Overall, the current situation presents a contrast to Cyprus’ wine heritage. Modern wines are beginning to emerge in the rest of the world due to their unique value, and they are also setting a trend in the world of wine lovers. Therefore, if you do not know the difference between a Xynisteri and Maratheftiko, Spourtiko or Mavro Ambelisimo, Promara, Vasilissa or Opthalmo, Morokanella and a Yiannoudi. Do not worry you are not alone.
Even in Cyprus, indigenous grape varieties were long overshadowed by their far more famous counterparts from France like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Indeed, a few of the indigenous varieties were almost extinct until enterprising local winemakers rediscovered them growing in forgotten corners. But they now form the basis of an industry that is rapidly growing in confidence and sophistication, producing fascinating wines that capture the myriad of terroirs of Cyprus, diverse landscape, from sun-drenched to high altitude, mountain slopes vineyards.The modern Cyprus wine industry is in its relative infancy, regions and varietals are still being researched. Cyprus wines continue to get better as winemakers learn more about the ideal conditions for each native grape, experiment with new and ancient winemaking techniques and focus on what makes Cyprus wine special and unique. This improvement has already started to bare fruits. More and more Cyprus wineries are getting noticed, and are winning important accolades in the most prestigious World wine Competitions.