Native to Cyprus, this grape has been used in blends for many centuries. Nowadays, Xynisteri is finally coming out of the shadows making zesty, fresh, elegant white wines.
Xynisteri is an indigenous white grape native to Cyprus. It is one of the most widely cultivated Cyprus grapes. In fact, about 20-30% of the island vineyards are under Xynisteri. The variety has been known since ancient times. However, until recent days Xynisteri has been used mainly as part of Commandaria – the famous dessert wine from Cyprus which supposedly has been made here since 800 BC. For this wine Xynisteri is blended with Mavro, another local grape. Nowadays, Xynisteri is finally coming out of the shadows as a variety in its own right, capable of making elegant dry white wines. There is growing interest for Xynisteri with more and more Cypriot producers, such as Zambartas and Vlassides, exploring the potential of this ancient grape.
Photo credit: Zambartas Winery
Aromas And Styles
The best examples of Xynisteri wines come from higher altitude vineyards. These wines display vibrant acidity along with pronounced mineral aromas. These characteristics make Xynisteri wine somewhat similar in style to Chablis.
A dry Xynisteri wine is gracious, light and zesty. It opens up in the glass with delicate fruit aromas – lemons, green apples, peaches and apricots, followed by charming floral notes. In Cyprus, to make dry wines, Xynisteri is sometimes blended with a small proportion of other grapes, such as Sauvignon Blanc. This elevates the fruit aromas and enhances the freshness of the wine.
Light bodied, elegant and fruity Xinisteri wine can be enjoyed on its own as an aperitif. In addition, it makes a marvellous match for a variety of dishes, such as grilled fish, lemon grilled chicken or seafood pasta.