The most common wines produced indigenously speaking are from the Maratheftiko and Xinisteri, but it is time to dig a little further and began exploring the many other grape varieties and the wines they produce. long ago

Once upon a time in Cyprus the idea of cultivating indigenous varieties was dismissed and often opted for the more exotic, and in terms of overall wine production the most common grape varieties, the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz among others. As the indigenous varieties continue to be planted and cultivated the more and more, they’re developing traction and that headstrong Cypriot mentality is being put to good use, refusing to give up on vines that have fought back and no deserve to be heard.


Kanella, meaning cinnamon and Morokanella meaning little cinnamon, are a white grape variety with aromatic precursors in skins producing a pretty yellow colour and a very pleasantly soft taste on the tongue. Moro is used in modern day Greek as baby and is the originator of the insulting term ‘moron’.  Morokanella was more widespread before the Ottoman period but declined to high taxes on alcohol. Both the ‘baby’ and ‘adult’ variety are found at Vouni Panayia, and the former is also found in the vineyards of the Chrysorroyiatissa Monastery whereas the latter is also found in the Omodos region.

Both tops of the shoots are white and fluffy, and their adult leaves are orbiculate, Kanella is 5 lobed and Morokanella is lightly pearly with 5-7 lobed with a broad, both withconcave lateral sinuses, however the petiolar sinus is in a narrow lyre shape, usually closed and often 1-2 teeth on the inside of the leaf is spidered whereas the Kanella adult leaves are average with the upper closed and lower open; the petiolar sinus has an open U shape with pointed teeth, narrow on the underside of the leaf is a free from hair with young ribs. Naturally the baby clusters are average in size, where are the adult ones are large conical, loosely packed with one or two side clusters, the grapes are ovate, large, golden yellow in colour and with a firm flesh. Kanella’s clusteres are large conical with a side cluster, quite loosely packed the grapes are ovate, average, golden yellow in colour with firm and not very juicy flesh.

Promara a great Cypriot variety producing excellent wines, it was first noted by Professor Mouillefert under the name Promara (premature) or Lykopromon, he described it as a white average sized grape, excellent for the table. Found chiefly in the vineyards of Omodos and Kyperounda. The variety known as ‘Bastartiko’ and found in the Vouni Panayia district is identical to Promara and produces a fragrant wine.  The top of the young shoots are white and fluffy with large leaves that are delicately pearly, orbiculate, generally 7-9 lobed with very deep anatomy, wide and concave; the petiolar sinus is in a more or less narrow lyre shape, sometimes with one or two teeth at the base of the sinus, the leaf’s teeth are pointed, narrow; the underside of the leaf is downy and the leaf stalks are contrasting red. The clusters are usual average, conical and quite compacted, the grapes produced are small oval and a greenish yellow.

Spourtiko is most definitely one of the lesser known variety’s the name ‘Spourtiko’ means bursting, a reference to the grapes whose fragile skin splits easily and similar sounding to a British Cypriot calling someone ‘sporty’- either way you look at it the name gives off an energetic meaning. This variety has been found in several vineyards at Omodos, Kyperounda and in the Vouni Panayia district. The Asprostafylo is harvested in the Alona vineyard which is like an identical twin to Spourtiko. The wine produced has a pale yellow colour and quite a flowery aroma. The Spourtiko variety has many physical similarities with the Promara grapes with the tops of the young shoots are also white and fluffy and the adult leaves pearly and orbiculate with however dark green. The leaves are mainly 5-lobed with board lateral sinuses, open and concave; the petiolar sinus is in a closed lyre shape with overlapping edges, the teeth are ribbed, narrow and the underside of the leaf is downy with a whiteish colouring. The cluster produced are average in size and often with a well-developed side cluster of conical and loosely packed ovate grapes that are slightly flattened on top, large, golden yellow with a firm flesh, containing four pips, which despite appearances are not very juicy.

They are doing it! Indigenous sorts are more, albeit slightly more, available we as an organisation with decades of experience it when we hosted a very successful CyWineFest January 2018 launch party we found out first hand and when timing didn’t permit to obtain our wines from Cyprus they were sourced from European or UK based importers and stockists, and as the principal goes where there is demand there is supply!


Credit: Professor Pierre Galet/ Dr Caroline Gilby MW/ Professor P. Mouillefert

George Charalambous

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