Athiri is an ancient white grape variety of the Aegean Sea, used for centuries to make excellent dry white wines. Ever since its qualities were recognized by vine growers across Greece, it has been an essential and extremely elegant expression of the style of white wines produced on the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands.
Athiri is a vine perfectly suited to arid and warm Aegean conditions and able to perform in a large variety of soils. It makes wines with moderate intensity of flavors, mainly focusing on white and yellow fruits, with moderate alcohol levels, soft acidity and a medium body, displaying freshness and vivacity. Athiri is grown all over the Aegean Islands and is important even in Crete. Nevertheless, numerous vineyards have been planted in the mainland, most notably in Macedonia, particularly in Halkidiki (PDO Côtes de Meliton). Nevertheless, the top results are achieved in PDO Santorini—when it is coupled with Assyrtiko and Aidani and in the high vineyards of PDO Rhodes.
For people that want an introduction to the raciness of Aegean dry white wines, Athiri is an excellent proposal. The lean, not heavy structure and the lack of obvious flavors make Athiri wines suitable for a large range of difficult-to-match dishes. However, Greeks enjoy Athiri as an aperitif, especially on warm summer lunches. This is a grape variety to be consumed young, within two to three years from vintage, although some five-year-old examples have been found to be delicate but complex.