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The Sweetheart of Crete

Vidiano is considered by Cretan winemakers and sommeliers alike, the sweetheart grape of Crete. This white grape originates from the Amari province in the mountains of Rethymno. Once used to make the famous Malvasia wines under the Venetian occupation in the 13th century, Vidiano all but disappeared until it reemerged 20-25 years ago. Since its resurrection, the quality and potential of Vidiano have put it in the spotlight. Vidiano is rare in its diversity. It can make crisp wines of tropical fruit and citrus when fermented in stainless steel or opulent creamy wines when aged in oak barrels. Some winemakers are even experimenting with sparkling versions.

Stelios Klados, second generation winemaker at Klados Winery in Rethymno, recounts the recent history of Vidiano as an overlooked grape when the trend was to make large quantities of bulk wine instead of focusing on quality. The best farmers knew to keep a few vines of Vidiano in their vineyards to blend in to add beautiful aromatic characteristics to their wine which is how it survived near extinction. Stelios’s father, Manolis, is credited as being one of the first winemakers to replant Vidiano in the 1980s. Vidiano has been planted all over Crete in the last 15 years. Until the vines are older, the full potential of this grape is still unknown. If the first few vintages are any indication, Vidiano is set to be a world class wine.

Kleopatra Bright, Certified Sommelier of Serenissima restaurant in Old Town Chania, suggests pairing Vidiano with local Cretan produce, specifically zucchini. She finds that the herbal undertones of Vidiano pair beautifully with traditional dishes with lots of herbs like dolmades, stuffed vegetables, and fried zucchini fritters. Vidiano is her go-to wine for steamed white fish with wild greens. The crisp character of unoaked versions pair effortlessly with salty cheeses, as well. Heavier dishes like oven-roasted chicken or boureki are better paired with barrel-aged Vidiano.

Notable producers of Vidiano include Klados Winery, Dourakis Winery, Diamantakis Winery, Karavitakis Winery, Paterianakis Winery, and Lyrarakis Wines.

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