Thrapsathiri is an important variety of Crete that is emerging as one of the most promising and exciting white grapes of the island. For decades, Thrapsathiri was misunderstood, falsely considered as a relative of Athiri, or shadowed by the more popular Vilana. Nevertheless, it now draws the attention of many critics, solely based on its own attributes, making first-rate dry, and occasionally sweet, white wines.
Thrapsathiri is a vine perfectly suited to even the warmest spots of Crete, being highly resistant to drought. However, it responds badly to high yields, so wine growers have to be prudent to produce concentrated fruit. Thrapsathiri wines have a pale lemon green colour, a moderately intense nose, fully dominated by primary fruit, mainly melon and peach. On the palate they have a relatively full body, notable alcohol and a soft acidity. Thrapsathiri is grown all over Crete, from Chania to the west to Lasithi to the east. The most acclaimed wines come from the latter area where PDO Sitia is located. PDO Sitia white wines are blends of Vilana and Thrapsathiri but several producers of the island make single varietal wines of Thrapsathirι.
Thrapsathiri is a variety for rich, round but not too intense or heavy wines. Because of the relative lack of opulence on aromas, Thrapsathiri is an excellent option for matching rich food that is too intense and too complex to go down the paths of conventional food and wine matching. It is perfect for relatively cold weather days as well. Most wines have to be drunk within four years after vintage but some leading producers make very idiosyncratic wines that can develop for a decade.
(Courtesy New wines of Greece)