About 150 years ago, German-born Gustav Clauss settled outside the city of Patras where he vinified the first sweet Mavrodaphne. Little could he have known at the time that the wine he had crafted would become one of the most identifiable products of the Greek vineyard. Nor could he have known that, today, apart from yielding some highly acclaimed sweet wines such as “Mavrodaphne of Patras” and “Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia,” the Mavrodaphne variety would also yield some equally touted and remarkable dry wines.

Most of the Mavrodaphne vineyards are found in the Peloponnese, particularly its northwestern part. Until recently, the variety was almost exclusively employed in the production of distinguished fortified dessert wines under the indication PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras. The same was also customary on the Ionian island of Cephalonia where limited quantities of the sweet, hard-to-find PDO Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia wines are produced. The varietal’s characteristic near-black color, dense aromas of dried prunes and currants, high alcohol content, and medium acidity indeed fit the classic profile of sweet wines like a glove. And then, enter that particularly piquant “bitterness” which ushers the finish of Mavrodaphne wines into another, complex dimension. In recent years, more and more of the dry wines of the variety seem to feature these titillating characteristics, and the absence of sugars appears to fortify evn further the game of “here’s your sweet nose, there’s your sweet & sour taste,” a game strikingly reminiscent of Veneto’s grand Amarone wines.

Mavrodaphne is indubitably a grand variety of the Greek vineyard. Having earned its rightful place among the “Port” dessert wines and being as little-known as it is unexpected in its dry version, Mavrodaphne will surely win over wine lovers with a nose for the authentic, the different, and the diverse.