Liatiko is the foremost ambassador of a very individual and frequently poorly understood style, which, at the same time, is utterly delicious. It is a red grape variety that can produce very fine dry red wines but it reaches its apogee in the sweet versions. However, most red varieties are used to make fortified sweet wines, by the addition of alcohol during the alcoholic fermentation. In sharp contrast, Liatiko sweet wines are made from sun dried grapes.
Liatiko has a relatively low color intensity, verging on the garnet. Liatiko wine is intense, with rich, ripe red fruit and sweet spices. The palate is full, with high levels of alcohol, low and very soft tannins. Sweet Liatikos, because of the sun drying of the grapes, are even more intense on the nose, showing more candied fruit character, and all elements are concentrated on the palate, most notably acidity. Long barrel aging is essential for all, usually in large, old oak. Liatiko is found all over Crete, but the best wines are found in Heraklion, in the PDO Dafnes zone, and in Lasithi, in PDO Sitia, where 20% of Mandilaria can be added.
Liatiko is the epitome of the warm weather found in certain areas around Crete –dry versions are round, full and soft, while sweet examples are richer and denser. Liatiko dessert wines (for example Sitia) are excellent for people want to enjoy a red sweet wine, but at lower alcohol levels from those found on most fortifieds. Liatiko is a variety that develops beautifully over time, with dry wines needing at least five years and lasting ten or more. Needless to say, sun driedLiatiko can keep improving for decades.