The Xynisteri Grape Variety of Cyprus

Xynisteri is an indigenous variety of grape widely cultivated in Cyprus.

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Xynisteri is an indigenous variety of grape widely cultivated in Cyprus. Like sauvignon blanc, xynisteri yields a dry white wine with flavours of green grass, intense tropical fruits, herbs, and minerals. Though cultivated for generations on the island, the grape has recently been used to produce premium wines under the guidance of well-trained oenologists using modern technology. Aphrodite Constanti, who trained in Bordeaux, keeps a careful tab on each year’s harvest in the Kathikas region, where she is winemaker for Vasilikon Winery. She takes great care to treat the grapes gently, using traditional methods (harvesting by hand) and new technologies (cold maceration in stainless steel tanks, gentle pressing using pneumatic pumps). After fermenting in a stainless-steel tank for about two weeks, the wine goes through the process of bâtonnage—stirring and filtering for months—until the wine is ready for bottling. According to Annabelle’s sommelier George Kassianos, “xynisteri is a good match with local cuisine. It pairs well with halloumi and feta cheeses, meze, and Greek or village salad for lunch, and fish, calamari, and grilled lemon chicken for dinner.” As with most varieties, terroir makes a difference in taste, with the limestone and clay soil and low altitude in Kathikas giving a green minerality, and the volcanic soil and higher altitude of vineyards near Limassol yielding “complex flavours with notes of minerality and some very worthy wines,” Kassianos notes. Chill xynisteri to 9° C before serving in the same glasses you’d use for riesling or sauvignon blanc.