It is one of the oldest red Greek varieties originating from the Cyclades and more specifically from the volcanic terroir of Santorini. It survived for centuries in its harsh and inhospitable lands and almost became extinct, due to the special treatment it needs during its cultivation. Fortunately, however, the great local growers did not give up and stubbornly tinkered with it a little more, inventing appropriate ways of pruning the old plants that had endured, resulting in the variety being revived and giving results that perhaps no one would have expected! This was one of the reasons why significant efforts were made to cultivate it outside of Santorini, with typical examples being Tinos, Thessaloniki, Peloponnese, and Crete. While in its birthplace it was known for its involvement in the production of sweet wines, its evolution has given monovarietal dry red wines, while it is also used to enrich the character of some rosés.
While it is native to the barren lands of Santorini, it appears to be very sensitive to drought and the annual amount of grapes produced is not very large. This, of course, after specific techniques applied to the vineyard, has greatly improved in recent years. The single-varietal Mavrotragano gives wines with medium or even full body, strongly tannic character, and moderate acidity. In blends with other varieties, it enhances the aromatic character of the wine, but also gives a lively tannic level, which is due to its very thick skin. Its intense dark color is also due to this. Its main aromatic traits are ripe and cooked red forest fruits, spices, and special notes of coffee, combined with a very distinct mineral character. It usually participates in blends with Mandilaria, Xinomavro, Mavroudi, Kotsifali, Syrah, and Augustiatis varieties. Depending on the wine produced, it can be vinified both in a tank and in the barrel, where its robust tannins soften and give a delicious and velvety aromatic effect. It belongs to the varieties with great aging potential of 5-10 years, while excellent single-varietal examples are flawless even after 15 years. In the case of rosés, of course, aging reaches 3 years.
Food and Wine Pairing
It always depends on the variety with which it participates in the blend, but in general, red dry wines from Mavrotragano need red meat and red sauces next to them. For example, veal steaks, spaghetti with cockerel in red wine sauce, veal ragout, and bbq, are an ideal food pairing. To enjoy Mavrotragano in a rosé blend, pair it with shrimp risotto, pizza, and traditional Greek dishes.