Dafni is an almost extinct white grape variety of the island of Crete that got back in the spotlight of fame. This was achieved by producing dry white wines that are intense in aromas and round on the palate, while keeping alcohol levels moderate. Some ambitious producers use the oldest of their vineyards to make even some barrel fermented batches.
Dafni in Greek means “laurel” and it is clearly evident why that name has been given to this full flavoured grape –laurels, wet leaves and pungent herbs, coupled with ripe yellow and white fruits. The palate is highly particular in structure –although it possesses extract, power and soft acidity, alcohol levels are surprisingly modest, especially for Cretan standards, rarely being above 12.5%. It originates from the general area of Heraklion and, although vineyards remain much localized, growers are increasing planting more Dafni. This is due to the very high profile enjoyed by the variety –and for this very reason, producers rarely blend it with other grapes. Dafni’s importance in terms of image is much grander than its actual production significance.
Dafni is a grape for those who want to foresee the future of Cretan white wines, today. A variety to please people that enjoy rich wines but dislike high alcohol levels. It is a great match to intense yet light summer dishes, like pastas and salads. Most of Dafni wines are made to be consumed within three years after harvest, but the more adventurous wine lovers that enjoy complexity could keep some bottles for at least three additional years.