Grape varieties native to Greece have always been inexhaustible although, at some point or other, many of them nearly became extinct or were threatened with extinction. The Cretan Plyto is such a remarkable case of a variety which was literally snatched away from the verge of extinction. At present, Plyto yields a small number of white wines but it does show great promise of potentially becoming one of the key native varieties which will be called upon later on to shoulder the representation of the historic island of Crete’s wine profile.

Sightings of Plyto planting in eastern Crete itself is a rare occurrence: it was Irakleion winegrowers who actually helped the variety make a comeback in their own area by looking for Plyto, identifying it, and replanting it: Modern irrigation methods in Irakleion’s contemporary vineyards seem not only to have helped this rare grape variety overcome its aversion to droughts but to have enhanced its lemony character and resplendent freshness as well. On its own or blended with more robust and mature varieties such as vidiano, Plyto seems to possess the potential for outstanding performance. Indeed, Irakleion wine growers are so taken with Plyto, that they are already attempting their first, experimental “single vineyard” bottling!

Although it will take restless winegrowers some time before they have unfurled every part of the variety’s potential, Plyto seems to be yet another feather in the cap of contemporary Greek wines, yet another buried treasure ready to be discovered by wine explorers.

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