Cyprus Commandaria Wine
‘The vine that produces the black grapes is to be found in the mountains; grapes are ripe in July but the harvest is in September. They lay the grapes on the roofs of their houses and they leave them in the sun for three days, so that the heat removes all water contained. Then, they transport the grapes to the presses, take away the seeds and the cluster before fermentation. They produce a wine of great excellence’.
Etienne de Lusignan, Description of the Island of Cyprus, 1580
‘One of the best wines in the world’, as Etienne de Lusignan points out, well known since antiquity, Commandaria wine is produced in many mountainous areas in Cyprus. Today it is produced in the wineries of only four villages of the wine district of Limassol: Agios Constantinos, Yerasa, Zoopigi and Kalo Chorio. It is a dark flavoured wine with a very sweet taste and its method of fabrication is identical to the one Hesiod refers to 2.600 years ago.
Ripe grape soft the indigenous varieties Xynisteri (Xinisteri) and Mavro are picked and laid out to partially dry in the sun for some days. There, they dehydrate naturally, they are then pressed in the traditional presses and the juice of the grapes is transported to large contasiners so that the fermentation continues. When fermentation is complete further processing takes place in the four main Wineries of Limassol. There in the dark cellars Commandaria wine ages in oak casks for a number of years.
Commandaria is the only Cyprus wine from grapes grown in strictly controlled ‘Appellation of Origin’ areas. Commandaria area includes the villages Agios Georghios, Agios Mamas, Agios Pavlos, Apsiou, Yerasa, Doros, Zoopigi, Kalo Chorio, Kalpilio, Lania, Louvaras, Monagri, Silikou. The Appellation of Origin also controls the varieties, the method of wine-making, the way of aging whereas a quality control is foreseen by a Committee of Wine Specialists.