Luisa braves the heat and travels to Chalkidiki in Northern Greece where wine production has entered a new era….. 

Greece, a legendary land of endless beauty, where myths like the divine gift of the vineyard have enhanced its history and culture since the dawn of civilization. Vineyards and wine might have been attributed to the Greek deity Zeus, but today there is a new story to tell, where tradition meets innovation in the unique terroir of Chalkidiki. It starts right here, with the PDO Slopes of Meliton and the PGI Sithonia wines. 

Sithonia, the middle leg of the Chalkidiki Peninsula, is a pine paradise by the blue sea. On its Western side, the verdant slopes of Mount Meliton meet the crystal clear waters of its bay, creating a natural amphitheatre where the largest organic vineyards in Europe are located. 

PDO Slopes of Meliton 

This wine production zone is so special that it is recognised with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Slopes of Meliton. It covers both red and white wines produced from grapes only grown here. The vineyards are not irrigated, and the hot daytime temperature is balanced by the altitude – up to 350 metres – and by the sea, with moisture retained at nighttime. What’s more, pests and diseases are tackled using organic processes, thus maintaining the organic status of the vineyard.

Here, you’ll find white grapes such as Assyrtikó, Athiri and Roditis which make high quality wines, and when blended, they capture all the flavour of the slopes. These wines are bright yellow in colour, with aromas of white and citrus fruits, balanced by taste with notes of basil, mint and jasmine and an aromatic finish.

A good example is Blanc de Blancs from Domaine Porto Carras New Era, one of the most important wineries in the area. This wine truly brings together all the elements of the terroir, the climate and the grapes of PDO Slopes of Meliton. Each variety is vinified separately and then blended, before the wine is aged on its lees for at least three months. The finesse of such blend is exceptional.  

The red grape varieties include the legendary Limnio, thought to be the oldest and longest-lived variety in the world first found on the island of Limnos, today grown mainly in Northern Greece. Here, it has become part of the area’s PDO. 

Limnio epitomises the red wines of PDO Slopes Meliton thanks to French oenologist and researcher Émile Peynaud, credited with revolutionizing winemaking here, in the latter half of the 20th century. He introduced international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, which thrived on the chalk and schist soils, but also saw the potential of Greek grapes such like Limnio. 

As a single varietal, Limnio wines are fresh and fruity, with a character of aromatic herbs and red fruits such as cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Peynaud proposed blending Limnio with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and catapulted this world-unknown grape onto an international platform.

The blend of these three grapes gives the resulting wine a dynamic structure with firm tannins, whilst adding complexity. Matured in oak barrels for several months, the resulting wines quickly acquired a reputation both in Greece and internationally, obtaining the PDO quality indication in 1982. The best example of this wine is probably Chateau Porto Carras, which displays a deep purple colour, complex and concentrated aromas of black fruits, with notes of cedar and tobacco.


Moving closer to the sea, the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Sithonia wines show the coastal elegance of the area, with its gentler, Mediterranean climate. This category covers wines with a specific indication of geographical origin produced from specific varieties. Wines with personality come from grapes grown on vines with special characters. 

Here, in the hilly areas blessed with cool summer winds, forests and the sea, a white grape reigns supreme, Malagouzia, an ancient, rare variety believed to have originated from Central Greece, then becoming almost extinct in the 1970’s.

It was revived thanks to the painstaking work of university professors and some top growers like Porto Carras, and today it is one of the most important grapes in the area. It makes a most charismatic wine, with intense aromas reminiscent of honeysuckle, citrus blossom, rose petals and stone fruit. Deliciously tropical, elegant and totally singular.

The international red variety Syrah adapted immediately and excellently to the coastal location of the vineyards and to the Sithonia terroir, making great PGI Sithonia wines with excellent ageing potential. These wines are distinguished by their deep, purple colour, complex aromatic nose, a bold and distinctive palate with a long aromatic taste. 

Wine And Food In Chaldiki

‘Food without wine is like a day without sun’ – it is hard to imagine the Mediterranean diet without wine. You will find good examples of these wines in all the restaurants in the area, where the aromatic herbs and spices of the Greek cuisine provide a perfect match. Meat or cheese pies and soft cheeses are ideal companions to Limnio. Fresh anchovies from the Agean sea, mussels, fish soup and grilled octopus are worthy partners of Roditis. Malagouzia  finds its ideal match with cuttlefish and squid, grilled or sautéed to preserve their buttery texture, which perfectly blends with the texture of the wine.