Bearing fruit in a unique soil and climate, the vineyards of Aigialeia stretch over an area covering thousands of hectares, forming one of the largest and most dynamic vinicultural zones in Greece.
The main bulk of our vineyards are located at an altitude of 840 m., while many smaller allotments are found here and there at a height of up to 1100 m. The mountainous landscape provides ideal conditions for the cultivation of the indigenous reddish-skinned Roditis and Tsigello (Mavrodaphne). A range of other Greek and international varieties, mainly white, make up the viticultural profile of our winery: Malagousia, Assyrtiko, Malvasia, Viognier, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Syrah. We are particularly proud of our newer acquisitions, the Robola and the Kydonitsa, two local varieties with a long history which promise an exciting future.
In the long-established vineyard of the Rouvalis family, at Fragosykia, the black Corinthian currant has been cultivated for generations. When the vineyard passed into the hands of Angelos Rouvalis, traditional cultivation was replaced by experimentation with new wine-producing varieties, which was soon adopted by the wine-growers of the region.
Today in Fragosykia the Kydonitsa, Malvasia and Mavrodaphne varieties are cultivated and different methods of making them into wine are being researched, with old practices being adopted at different stages of production and tasting, such as the haraki that helps the fruiting, or leaving the grapes in tzivieres (wickerwork frames) to dry in the sun which is the traditional way of drying the black currant.
Syracho - Ag. Theodoroi
In the heart of the vinicultural zone, at a height of 950-1050 m., mountainous Aigialeia meets the Kalavryta vineyards, overlooking the Vouraiko River gorge.
At the Syracho (which means the place where two mountain ranges meet) of Ag. Theodoroi, where two mountain ridges intersect and the incline of the ground is over 50% in places, Theodora Rouvali and Antonio Ruiz Pañego have created a model organic vineyard, applying pioneering viticultural techniques. In the mountain valley formed by the slopes, the vines are planted amphitheatrically on terraces reminiscent of the dry-stone walling of the islands. Here, Roditis, Robola, Riesling and Tsigello (Mavrodaphne) are cultivated in dense plantations (5500-8000 plants per ha), to produce quality grapes with a low yield, with the aim of producing premium wines.
For three generations, our wine-grower partners have been ready to cultivate old and new varieties of vine, both Greek and international, and forever proud of the Aigialeia Roditis. Always open to new methods, adept and eager to try new things, they have met the challenges of the mountainous ‘heroic viticulture’ with hard work and vigilance, which are demanded by this bountiful terroir.
A mutual relationship of trust unites us and the pioneering wine-growers of Aigialeia. We are pressing ahead together so that the exceptional PDO/PGI (Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication) wines of Aigialeia will gain the recognition they deserve.
“If there was an IQ test for grape varieties, then the Roditis would definitely get the highest score.”
Olga Palli, “Roditis, a fox of wines”
Deeply rooted in time, the name Roditis was chronicled by Pliny (1st century ACE), while it appears to have gained quite a reputation during the Venetian period. An emblematic variety of Aigialeia with international recognition, the reddish Roditis, despite its rosy skin, yields an exceptional white wine.
“that which makes everything beautiful is the red Rogditis.”
Lyrics from Zakinthos, circa 1600
Although on the plains the Roditis has high yields, on the mountain slopes it produces high-quality fresh and aged wines, as well as sparkling wines. Resistant to disease and drought, the late-ripening Roditis finds the conditions at an altitude and the light Aigialeia soil ideal, achieving optimum quality.
Capable of adapting quickly to different climatic conditions and amenable to different cultivation methods, the Roditis is a ‘terroir sponge’, a term used to refer to varieties that make full use of the soil they grow in, developing individual characteristics. The Roditis from our vineyards on the plateaus, such as Pyrgaki and Trapeza, give a strong structure to the palate and good acidity, those on the slopes, such as Ziria, produce full wines with an intense melony bouquets, green apple, banana and citrus fruits and a significant minerality; finaly, in the remote mountainous Petsakoi, the Roditis produces wines that are fuller-bodied and more elegant.
The Roditis variety is of special interest to us and in our vineyards we cultivate many different clones of it. In collaboration with the agriculturalist Kostas Bakasietas, we are constantly researching its impressive multiformity, endeavouring to achieve the best quality version of this significant Greek variety.
The Tsigello, the most authentic and the best quality variant of Mavrodaphne, took its name from the characteristically small bunch of grapes, which hangs like a tsigeli (crook) from the stalk of the main fruit. One of the most important Greek varieties, Mavrodaphne, was already famous in the 19th century, both as a dry and sweet port wine, which ended up being identified with the post-war years. In the last decade, it has begun to be used by Greek winemakers for the production of superb, surprisingly dry wines with a strong temperament: mature taste, average acidity, average tannins and herbal bouquets.
Far from heavy fertile land, which leads to increased yields and reduced quality, the Tsigello is cultivated by us at high altitudes above 550 m.
“The Cinderella of Greek wine grapes.”
An indigenous variety on the coastline of the plains of Aitolokarnania, the Malagousia disappeared during the post-war years, only to re-emerge in the 1970s, thanks to the coordinated efforts of university lecturers and leading Greek growers and enologists. Today, it has become a variety of worldwide interest, yielding aromatic dry white wines.
Leaving the plains of Aitolokarnania, the Malagousia continued its journey to mountainous Nafpaktia and from there to Aigialeia. With us, the Malagousia is planted among fir trees, at an altitude of 1000 m., on the foothills of the Panachaiko Range. Its move from the plains to the mountains gave the Malagousia the opportunity to find suitable conditions to develop: dry climate, inclining airy soil, poor in nutritional elements – a vinicultural environment ideal for its cultivation, which resulted in its acquiring powerful herbal bouquets, a good body, acidity and fullness in the mouth, gaining an individuality that distinguishes it from other Malagousias.
The Kydonitsa is our southern ‘neighbour’, a late-ripening white variety, which originates in the region of Lakonia in the Southern Peloponnese. The variety takes its name from the characteristic bouquet of wines made from it, which are redolent of kydoni (quince). The sweet wines of this variety surprise the palate pleasantly with their tannins and fresh acidity, while the dry varieties stand out for their roundness and spiritedness.
A difficult variety to grow, with us, the Kydonitsa is planted in our vineyard in Fragosykia, and is grown alongside the Assyrtiko to strengthen its fruiting ability. According to the grape geneticist José Vouillamoz, co-writer, along with Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding, of the award-winning book Wine Grapes (Penguin, Allen Lane, 2012), this once humble variety from the Peloponnese deserves to rise from the obscurity of a local grape variety to achieve world recognition. (https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/07/the-flagship-wine-grapes-of-the-future/7/)
A great variety of white wines from neighbouring Cefalonia, the Robola is yet another Greek variety with a brilliant enological future. The elegant, fruity wine it produces is reminiscent of the distinctness of the Aigialeia wines. This is the relative that recently gave us the idea to plant it in our family-owned model organic vineyard in Syracho – Ag. Theodoroi: at an altitude of 1050 m., the Robola finds a vinicultural environment that we are sure will allow it to evolve and acquire a distinct, stimulating and very charming temperament.
Born out of the lava and winds of Santorini, in recent years the historic and more celebrated variety of Assyrtiko has inspired pioneering wine-growers in Greece, as well as throughout the world.
A variety with rare virtues and unique potential, the Assyrtiko functions as a ‘terroir sponge’ where it is hosted, each time developing different characteristics, yet always producing wine with a temperament. With us, the cultivation of the Assyrtiko at an altitude of 600-900 m. allows the terroir of Aigialeia to create its own special expression in this variety, producing wines with a mineral and citrus-fruit character.
Migrating to mountainous vineyards and poor infertile soil, the Viognier, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Chardonnay, the Riesling, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet Franc, the Syrah, the Petit Verdot and the Merlot are grown here in conditions of ‘heroic viniculture’, ensuring excellent quality fruit and wines in which the native characteristics of the Aigialeia terroir predominate: fruity bouquets, fresh acidity and minerality.
At the Rouvalis winery we applied, for the first time in Greece, ‘precision viniculture’ (using the Oenoview method), a state-of-the-art viniculture which has allowed us to gain important knowledge from the diversity of the vineyards, the teaming-up of vineyards with the same quality characteristics or heterogeneous parts of the same vineyard. Heterogeneity is due to soil differentiations or variations in the incline affecting water flow, plant pathology and cultivation practices. We relied on this knowledge in order to adapt our methods (irrigation, leaf removal, special grape harvesting) and to improve the vinicultural journey.