When you think Chios, your mind automatically ventures to mastic, the resin taken from the mastic tree. Known in Greece as the “tears of Chios”, mastic is a product well-known to this region.
But it’s Chios’ association with wine that is making an astounding resurgence and gaining a wide-spread comeback. The Ariousios winery in the northwest of Chios is doing its best to live up to the historical relevance of wine in Chios.
According to Chian folklore, Oenopion, son of the god Dionysus, taught Chians to plant, cultivate and produce the “black wine”, which at the time was one of the most remarkable and famous products produced by Chios in antiquity. It took ancient geographer Strabon to define the region of Ariousia, between the area of Pelinnaion Mountain and Cape Melena Akra, as the ancient wine making region.
The wine produced here was known as Homer’s wine, the ancient poets called it the “nectar of the Gods”, and it was a favourite wine of the Romans.
The reputation of these wines continued during the Byzantine period. Basically, wine from the region of Ariousia was as well-known and as highly regarded as wine from Bordeaux. This historical knowledge spurred the owners of Ariousious Company Inc winery to cultivate a wine that would not only live up to its rich historical tapestry, but also produce a wine for modern times. The founders of the winery decided to revive the cultivation of the vine and relive the reputation Chian wine once had. The winery, which opened in 2008, cultivates grape varieties on the slopes of the Amani mountain.
The varieties grown included chian krassero, agiannitis and bigleri. It’s located about 59 kilometres from Chios in a gorgeous location overlooking the Aegean sea. The wines produced are done in a way that respects the ancient rituals, but also adheres to modern-day wine making styles. The winery has been constructed to keep the ancient tradition of this wine making alive, but also accommodate the ability to create and hold 150 tonnes of wine. In the future, the winery is hoping this will increase to 300 tonnes.
The winery is made up of three levels that includes an ageing cellar and an integrated and modern wine analysis laboratory. Like all wineries, the founders encourage visitors to tour the inner sanctum of the winery but also revel in traditional agricultural tools and objects used in times gone by. Visitors can view wine production sites, explore oak barrels in the cellars and purchase their favourite drop or other items relating to wine and wine making. And of course, the Ariousios winery has a tasting hall for visitors to sample the local wines, and enjoy the landscape and view of the environment whilst sipping a wine that dates back to ancient times.
The winery creates seven Greek wines that incorporate the varieties of grapes available in this region and, at times, create a blend to match every palate. The Ariousios Afstiros – a red dry wine – uses the varieties of krassero and ayanittis to provide a rich and balanced wine; the Inanthis – a white dry wine – uses the bigleri, moschato and savatiano varieties to give the wine a young and fresh balanced taste; there is the Ariousios Glikason – a semi-sweet red wine – is made by keeping the traditional red wine making, and is produced by the sun-dried grapes grown in the slopes of the Amani mountain; Protolatis – a red semi-sweet wine – is the ideal wine for relaxation and romantic getaways featuring the first grapes of the krasero and agiannitis varieties; Amanitis – a dry white wine – is a harmonic blend of bigleri, savatian and moschato, creating a fruity balanced white; and Exi – a dry red wine – is a combination of grapes from northern Chios to create a deep purple wine for people who like drinking the best.