The historical white grape variety of Savatiano is among the Greek vineyard’s most widely planted varieties. Whether on its own, as part of blends, or as part of many PGI wines, the variety is responsible for a considerable volume of the dry whites produced. Still, once oenophiles have secured a good Savatiano in their glass, they will certainly be won over by the wine’s singularity as well as by the fact that this varietal is ready to prove that quality does not come from showing off but by demonstrating its essence.
If truth be told, despite its lengthy history, Savatiano is a variety little explored mostly due to its indifferent performance until recently which resulted in unwarranted disappointment on the part of some consumers. Luckily, the new and more contemporary profile of its wines will win over even the most demanding of wine lovers: it possesses distinct aromas of yellow fruit and freshly cut grasses, a round mouth, and a well-balanced presence. This new profile did not come about without hard work. Numerous Attica and Central Greece producers—regions where Savatiano is prevalent—have toiled both in the vineyard as well as in the winery. By harvesting at the right time, they ensured the right acidity; by means of prefermentation-maceration and low fermentation temperatures, they “vaccinated” the variety with freshness and an increased aromatic intensity; by selecting specific clones from each terroir, they imbued the variety with complexity; and by excluding aged, goblet-pruned vines, they ensured viscosity and length.
We cannot omit the fact that Savatiano is not only the variety responsible for a palette of new, Greek wines but is also the key variety which has traditionally been used to make retsina. The bad news for the variety is that long years of its use toward poor results in retsina have contributed to its lack of popularity. The good news is that these poor results are almost entirely a thing of bygone-wine-history in Greece. It must be stressed at this point that, despite past performance, an excellent bottle of Savatiano and a modern version of retsina are not simply exceptional tiles in the puzzle of the cross-cultural, global vineyard. Invaluable companions to various meals and dishes, they worthily fulfill their role as genuine and successful “meal wines.”