It has its roots in antiquity as it participated in producing the famous Ariousios wine, from the time of Pausanias. According to Greek mythology, that was the first red wine! Ariousios wine was born in Chios and was transported in traditional Chian amphorae, in ancient Athens. In his reports, Plutarch described it as a type of luxury. We could also call it a «special agent» variety, since you will meet it under many names, with Amorgiano, Parian, and Mantilari being some of them. It is also called Vaftra since it is extremely dyeable. Today it is cultivated mainly in the Aegean and more specifically in the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, while it is now also widely planted in Evia (here it is known as Mavrokountoura!). It rarely produces single-varietal wines and appears mainly in blends with other varieties for red, rosé, and some dessert wines. It participates in PDO Peza, PDO Archanes, PDO Paros, and PDO Sitia while it is entirely responsible for PDO Rhodes red wine.
Mandilaria produces wines with moderate body and alcohol, while its high acidity makes it ideal for the production of sweet wines. In blends, it expresses its intense tannic character and generously gives its deep color, characteristics that come from its high phenolic potential. It is a late harvest variety with sensitivity to botrytis and downy mildew, while it particularly likes a dry and warm climate. When grown properly, it gives off aromas of ripe black fruit, mainly cherry, sour cherry, and berry, while also showing leather (skin) aromas. It is most often blended with the varieties Kotsifali, white Monemvasia, Mavrothiriko, Mavrotragano, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. It behaves perfectly both in tanks and in barrels, depending on the style of wine the winemaker wants to create. Its aging can be from 2 years (rosé wines), up to 5 (red wines), and over 10 (sweet wines)!
Food and Wine Pairing
The dry red wines from Mandilaria pair excellent with white and red meats, such as brisket with spicy tomato sauce, grilled children, braised beef, and of course BBQ! Its rosé version pairs well with spicy Thai cuisine, seafood pasta, grilled shrimp, and traditional summer Greek dishes such as rice-stuffed and oily vegetables. For quick and easy, it's great with a variety of cheeses and cured meats. Finally, the single-varietal sweet red wine from Mandilaria will pair perfectly with chocolate, dried fruit, and blue-aged cheese.