09 novembro 2015

História do Vinho do Chipre


A Academia Madeirense das Carnes/Confraria Gastronómica da Madeira desde sempre assumiu-se como associação regionalista (Região Autónoma da Madeira) defensora da herança cultural gastronómica do Arquipélago da Madeira e da dieta e gastronomia Atlântica. No entanto defende igualmente o intercâmbio de saberes, sabores e vivências entre povos com culturas e hábitos diferentes. 
Não só defendemos o conhecimento de realidades diferentes como contribuímos para que as mesmas sejam conhecidas e por esta razão publicamos um texto (em Inglês) sobre a História do Vinho do Chipre.

Fonte : Cyprus Food &Wine Club.

           Cyprus Wine History

 The history of wine in Cyprus can be broken down into four distinct periods.


Exactly how far back wine production in Cyprus goes is unknown. Wine was being traded at least early as 2300 BC, the date of a shipwreck carrying over 2,500 amphorae, discovered in 1999. Its origin and destination are unknown, but must have been along the trade route between Greece and Egypt.

More recently, two discoveries have put that date back by few more years. The first was the discovery of a Bronze Age (2500-2000 BC) perfumery near the village of Pyrgos. Near this perfumery, an olive press, a winery, and copper smelting works were also discovered. Wine containers and even the seeds of grapes were unearthed.

The second discovery involved an intriguing sequence of events. Dr. Porphyrios Dikaios, a major figure in Cypriot archaeology and once curator of Cyprus Museum, had carried out excavations on the outskirts of Erimi village between 1932 and 1935. During these excavations, several fragments of  round flasks were unearthed ( amongst other artefacts). These pottery fragments ended up in the stores of Cyprus Museum still unwashed in wooden boxes. They were dated to the Chalcolithic period between 3500 -3000BC. In 2005, well after Dr Dikaios death, the chemical signatures of 18 of these were examined by a team of Italian archeologists led by Maria-RosariaBelgiorno. Twelwe of these showed traces of tartaric acid ( a component of wine ) proving that the 5500 year old vases were used for wine.

MEDIEVAL to 1878

Notably the period that made Commandaria famous. Richard the Lion Heart while sailing for the Holy Land to participate in the 3-rd Crusade was forced by bad weather to seek an anchorage at Lemesos in 1191. It ended with fighting the King of Cyprus Isaac Comnenus and subsequently sold the island to Templars. However, the Templars on realizing that they cannot keep the island they cancelled the agreement so Richard ceded the island to the French King of Jerusalem Guy de Lusignan.

As expected the history of wine on the island closely relates to political and administrative history. During the Lusignan reign the island has close ties with the Crusader nations and especially the nobility of France. Among the various settlers were the Commanderie or Commandaria - in a castle west of Lemesos, known today as Kolossi Castle. The area was known and Grande Commanderie to distinguish it from two smaller commanderies, that ofthe Phoenix of Paphos and that of Templos Kyrenia.

The Commandaria wine of today still bears the name of ths area, for the knights of Saint John gave this name to the wine because it was produced in the villages that constituted the Orders fief- the Commanderie -but also because knighthood was held in high esteem among the Catholic countries of Western Europe and among pilgrims who, on their way to the Holy Land - stopped at Cypriot harbours for provisioning - which of course included the sweet Commandaria wine. Praise in abundance - many writers, chronographers, travellers wrote about Commandaria.

The knights improved the quality of the wine, and elevated it to the wine greatest demand at the time. because of its quality Commandaria was much in demand in the trading centres of the Mediterranean. Such was the fame that it prompted Portugese merchants of the period to carry scions of Cyprus vine varieties to Maderia, were planted or grafted local stocks. The piece of information is given by the winemakers of the region themselves in form of a special label attached to the neck of the bottles.

Equally astonishing is the reference, in 1213 by the poet Henri d' Angeli in his famous work ' The Battle of the wines" where a wine competition was organized by Philippe August, King of France, and the sweet wine of Cyprus was crowned as the Evangelist of Wines.

During the symposium held in 1363 which was organized by the Lord Mayor of London in honour of Peter 1, then king of Cyprus and four other kings (Edward 3 of England, David 2 king of Scotland, John 2 king of France and Valdemar 4 knig of Denmark) Commandaria wine was served and it was very much appriciated. A painting at the Royal Exchange by Charles Taylor portrays very vividly the splendour and the colour of the symposium.
Moreover according to historians one of the main reasons that induced Sultan Selim 2 to conquer Cyprus was the fame of Commandaria, which the Sultan considered fit only for himself, the king of king.

1878 - 1980

1878 marked the handover of the island from Ottoman rule to the British Empire. British occupation brought a revival in the winemaking industry. Taxation rules changed and the local cottage industry began to expand. There was 20% duty on grape production, 10% duty on wine production and 8% on exports.
1844 saw the foundation of one of the largest wineries surviving to date, that ETKO by the Hadjipavlou family. The Chaplin family was Hadjipavlou' s main competitor until the arrival of KEO a company formed by a group of local businessmen. KEO bought the Chaplin winery in 1928. In 1943 following a strike, a breakaway of trade union members from ETKO created a cooperative LOEL. In 1947 the vine-growers themselves created SODAP, a co-operative to " protect the rights of the growers".
These "big four" wine producers dominated the industry scene and survive to date.
The first wave of expansion for Cypriot wines came with the misfortunes of the European vidiculture sector. The phylloxera epidemic that affected mainland Europe in the late 19th century had destroyed the majority of wine producing vines. Cyprus an island with strict quarantine controls managed to remain unaffected. As a consequense, demand for Cyprus grapes and wines coupled to the relatively high prices offered resulted in a mini boom for the industry. Further demand early in the 20th century came from local consumption and from the regional forces of Britan and France in the Middle East. Cyprus produced quality cheap wine and spirits ( mainly in the form of Cyprus brandy) and the big four companies prospered as a result.

The next big export product came in the form of Cyprus Sherry.It was first marketed by that name in 1937 and was exported mainly to northern Europe.By the 1960s, Britain was consuming 13.6 million liters of Cyprus wines, half the island's production, mostly as sweet sherry. A British market research study of fortified wines in 1978 showed Emva cream was the leading Cyprus sherry terms of brand recognition, and second in that market only to Harvey's Bristol Cream. The island became the Uk's third leading wine supplier behind France and Spain. A major factor was that Cyprus Sherry was more affordable than Spanish Sherry as British taxation favoured alcoholic beverages with an alcoholic content below the 15.5-18 percent bracket. This competitive advantage was lost a few years later with the rabanding of the alcohol content taxation. The fortified wine market also began to shrink as a whole due to a change in consumer taste as a result Cyprus sherry sales in the Uk fell from their peak in the early 1970s by some 65 percent by the mid 1980s. The final blow cane when the EC ruled that as of January 1996 only fortified wine from Jerez could assume the title of sherry.

The other big market for Cyprus wine during the same period was the former Soviet bloc. Large volumes of low quality, mass produced, blended wines were sold to the eastern bloc with the cooperative wine producers (LOELand SOLDAP) taking the lion's share. This market began to dry up in the 1980s and vanished altogether with the fall of communism.Indicate of the industry's mass prouction tactics comes in a report by THE TIMES in 1968 commenting on "the end of an underwater pipeline off the coast of Limassol linking to tankers taking on not gas or oil but wine-100 tons an hour of it- destined for about 40 countries throughout the world".


In response to the challeges faced by the industry the Cyprus vine-product commission began efforts to overhaul the sector in order to help it survive under the new circumtances. Reforms were intended to improve the quality rather than quantity of wine.Three initiatives were launched.

1.Firstly, new varieties of grapes were introduced and (financial) incentives given for their cultivation. The varieties introduced for wines more considered more suitable for quality wine production intended for wines more palatable to overseas markets (than local grapes). Examples include grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carignan Noir, Shiraz, Merlot, Grenache, Mataro Alicante Bouschet, Cinsault, Lefkada, Mataroor Mourvedre and Palomino, Ugni Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat of Alexandria or Malaga and Sauvignon Blanc. 2.Secondly, incentives were given to create small regional wineries with a production capacity of 50,000 to 300.000 bottles per year. This intended to promote better quality wines by reducing the distance grapes travelled from vineyard to winery. The big four wineries were located in the large port cities of Limassoland Paphos so vine growers were forced to transport their harvest for miles in the summer heat. This had an effect on the quality of wine as the fermentation process had already begun during transport. The knock on effect of this incentive also helped maintain the village population in the vine cultivating regions. 3.Thirdly a new Appellation of Origin was launched in 2007.


The Cyprus vine product council has based wine denominations of European Union law and is responsible for enforcing the regulations. Currently there are three accepted categories:

1. Table Wine. This is similar to the Vin de Table in Franch or Vino di Tavola Italy.

2. Local Wine.Which follows in similar fashion to the French Vin de pays and the Italian Indicazione GeograficaTipica. Regulations state that 85% of the grapes used in the production of such wine originates from the specific geographical regions and from the registered vineyards. Vines must be more than 4 years old with a controlled annual yield per cultivated hectare (55 hl/hectare or 70hl/hectare depending on grape variety). Red wine must have minimum of 11% alcohol content whilst rose and white wine minimum of 10%. There are four such designated areas: Lefkosia, Lemesos, Larnaca and Paphos. 

3. Protected designation of origin. Is the most prestigious designation and in theory indicates a higher quality product. It is modelled on the French Appellation d'origine controlee, whereas the Italian equivalent is the Denominazione di origine controllata. Wines with this designation must originate from registered vineyards of an altitude above 600 or 750 meters depending on location. Vines should be more than 5 years old and yield is restricted to 36 or 45 hl per hectare depending on grapes variety or 2200 plants per hectare in low cup-shaped or linear configuration. There are further regulations dictating the grapes composition and ageing process. Irrigation is allowed until one month before harvesting, at which grapes must be capable of producing wines with minimum alcohol content of 12% for red and 11% for white wines. Grapes intended for VQPRD appellation must be placed i suitable plastic crates to avoid pressing and must be carried to winery,s premises without delay. Also to qualify for VQPRD appellation bottle ageing for at least six month is necessary.


The region lies near the north-west coast of Cyprus and comprises the six village communes of Drousia, Inia, Kathikas, Kritou Terra, Pano Arodes, And Kato Arodes. These communities are allowed to produce both white and red wines with the OEOP label, provided that in case of the white wines at least 85% of blend derives from the local white variety of Xynisteri, and in the case of red wines at least 85% of the blend comes from the two local red varieties of Maratheftiko and Opthalmo.


This region of origin in the western part of the island, in Paphos district, at an altitude of over 800 metres and comprises the regions of Ambelitis, Galataria, Kilinia, and panayia. Both white and red wines may be produced. White wines may must use Xynisteri as the basic constituent (at last 85%). Red wines may be [roduce in two ways: The basic contituent must be one of two indigenous varieties of Maratheftiko or Opthalmo to a level of at least 85%, or the local Mavro variety ( at least 60% ) supplement by over 30% of one of specified recommended varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot etc.)


The region of origin comprises no less than 32 villages all situated on the slopes of Madari ( the second highest mountain paek of the Troodos range-after Olympus), Papoutsa, and the northwest slope of Maheras. For the production of white wines, Xynisteri must consitude 85% of the blend and for red wines either Maratheftiko or Opthalmo must constitude at leat 85% of the blend or the blend nay be up of 60% Mavro and 30 of one of the specified recommended varieties.
The villages are: Ayia Irene, Ayios Ioannis, Ayios Theodoros, Agridia, Agros, Alithinou, Alona, Apliki, Askas, Dymes, Farmakas, Fikardou, Fterikoudi, Gouri, Handria, Kambi, Kannavia, Kato Platanistasa, Polystypos, Potamitissa, Saranti, Spilia, Sykopetra.


On the Southern slopes of the Troodos mountains facing Lemesos lie 20 villages know as Wine Villages. These constitute the fourth region of appellation of origin. The villages are: Ayios Amvroios, Ayios Therapon, Arsos, Dora, Gerovsa, Kissousa, Kilani, Kouka, Lofou, Malia, Mandria, Omodhos, Pahna, Pano Kyvides, Pera Pedi, Potamiou, Trimiklini, Trozena, Vasa, Vouni.
Prominent in the Wine Villages are two subregions- that of Afames (Vouni, Kilanis, Mandria and Omodhos which lie east of Ha Potami river at an altitude of over 750 metres), and that of Laona (Arsos, Omodhos, Vasa which lie west of Ha Potami river at an altitude of 750 metres or higher..
The production of both white and red Wine Villages regions is based as Pitsilia.


 Indigenous White

 With 2200 hectares under cultivation, XINISTERI is the most wide-spread white grape variety in the Cypriot vineyard.
Vinification at low temperatures (16 C) of grapes from select regions (Kathikas, Vouni Panayias, Pitsilia, The Akamas Laona and Ambeltis) produces fresh, light coloured, light wines with low alcohol levels (11-12 % vol) which are not amenable to agening and must be drunk young and robust, one year at most after production.
Xinisteri is the only indigenous white grape variety with significant role in Cyprus winemaking. other grape varieties on the island include Promara, Spourtiko, Kanela, Morokanela, Aspro and Asproudhi.
These Grape varieties have not managed to come forth, away from the marginal periphery of the Cypriot vineyard where, for several decades, they are no more than museum items.

Indigenous Red
 Maratheftiko or Bambakada a local variety of superiore quality found among Mavro stocks in many vineyards. it makes for very concentrated of which tannin, fragrance, colour and structure are extremely close to those of Cabernet.
Promising but too rare. In the Pitsilia region this variety is known as Bambakada. Only 120 hectares are under cultivation in the whole Cyprus. This is of course due to the fact that Maratheftiko is less productive than any other grape and was not as popular among the old generation of viticulturalists. The limited number of vine-plants of this variety that one finds interspersed within Mavro vineyards were planted for the purpose of giving more intense, dark colour to wines from the Mavro variety. That is why there are no vineyards planted exclusively with Maratheftiko. There is however another reason for the unpopularity of Maratheftiko. Unfortunately the variety faces a serious viticultural problem, for it has a propensity to severe bud loss resulting in thinly clustered grape bunches. The reason for this is the fact that Maratheftiko is one of the very few varieties in the world which are non-hermaphroditic. It buds are physiologically female and consequently it has to ba planted in mixed vineyards to ensure pollinization. Found mainly in the hilly regions of Pafos and Pitsilia. A multi-dynamic variety, that can give a multitude of wine types, -from roses and light reds to reds suitable for agening. At its best it produces high quality re wines of intense colour, thick fruity aromas, reminiscent of cherries and blackberries and full body with select tannins that render amenable to extended agening.

 Mavro is a very productive cultivar characterized by large juicy grapes that make it a superb table variety. Its potential for red quality wine is particularly limited - in most cases wine produced from it are poor in colour, dull and simple in aroma and light in taste, are not amenable to agening and they need drinking very young.
It is a most widespread variety cultivated on the island - the best results come from the mountainous regions Pitsilia, Laona ( Lemesos ) and Afames. The poor, barren soils in these areas make for lower productivity but higher concentration, in contrast to lower altitudes and more fertile soils.


 It accounts for a very small percentage scattered all over the Cypriot vineyard. In several areas this variety is irrigated and therefore the grapes do not ripen sufficiently to produce wine with any claim to quality. When not irrigated it can produce wines of a light colour, a distinctive intence aroma, thin body and low acidity, which are no amenable to agening.

Escrito por

A Academia Madeirense das Carnes - Confraria Gastronómica da Madeira é uma associação sem fins lucrativos, que promove e defende a Gastronomia Regional Madeirense e todo o seu partimónio cultura.

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