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Greece to modernise out-of-date regulations

Published:  23 July, 2008

By James Aufenast

Greece is likely to change its appellation system amid widespread planting of non-authorised grapes. The planting is producing wines on a "super-Tuscan" model that are generally regarded to be of high quality, but can attain only a "vin de pays" status thanks to an appellation system devised in 1971 and modified in 1981. Yiannis Boutaris, former owner of the Boutaris winery in northern Greece, now at Domaine Kyr Yanni and Vegoritis and chairman of the newly formed Wine Roads of Macedonia, said: "The regulations are completely out of date. We are planting many different varieties which cannot attain quality status. But the regulations will change; they will have to." Vegoritis, which is in the Amynteo region, is concentrating on white wines made in the cool vineyards of the area. Plantings in the Naoussa region of Macedonia too are not 100% Xinomavro, a local variety specified by the appellation system. A number of winemakers feel that this has led to too much uniformity. Recent DNA studies have now brought the number of indigenous Greek vinifera varieties down to 250, and that is expected to further reduce as research continues. Previously the number was thought to be over 300. Of the 250, currently 25-30 are used in quality winemaking.