Rhodes’ Sparkling Wine

With its captivating scenery, diverse terroirs, an enchanting variety of native grape varieties, and a storied history of winemaking dating back to the 7th century BC, Greece retains its position as the birthplace of one of the most profound wine cultures in the world, which flourished in ancient times and continues to thrive. Presently, Greek winemakers, particularly those dedicated to organic winemaking, present exceptional wines of superior quality at reasonable prices.

When considering sparkling wines, Greece may not be the country that comes to mind. Nevertheless, Greece does possess several regions with a tradition of sparkling wines. While they are currently on the rise and being produced throughout Greece, they are still less renowned than sparkling wines from other producing countries.

Rhodes boasts one of the most extensive wine heritages globally, dating back to ancient times when its wines commanded great admiration and constituted a significant source of income. The island was renowned for its distinctive amphorae, each bearing a unique seal.

Additionally, it was the primary producer of sparkling wines for many decades, with its CAIR sparkling wine, often referred to as the Greek ‘Champagne’, enjoying widespread popularity at various celebrations throughout the country.

The grape variety dedicated to producing sparkling white wines with PDO designation (established in 2011) is Athiri.

The island’s climate is enriched by the refreshing influence of gentle sea breezes. The soil is a combination of sand, gravel, and clay, with certain areas possessing higher levels of limestone. Remarkably, Rhodes was spared from the ravages of phylloxera, and the presence of indigenous grapevines grown on their original roots is prized as a valuable asset.

The grape variety dedicated to producing sparkling white wines with PDO designation (established in 2011) is Athiri, predominantly cultivated at high altitudes on the slopes of Mt. Ataviros. The wine styles encompass extra brut, brut, dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet varieties.

The producer, CAIR (Compagnia Agricola Industriale di Rodi), was founded in 1928 by Italians. Historically, CAIR held the distinction of being the first company to produce sparkling wines using the traditional method. It played a pivotal role in making viticulture financially sustainable for local vine growers and contributed significantly to the development of local sparkling wines.

The CAIR Brut Sparkling Dry is crafted with athiri, resulting in a pale gold wine with a sophisticated blend of tropical fruits, kumquat, chamomile, and bread crust. Its balanced mouthfeel delivers flavors of quince, bergamot, and lemongrass, complemented by light and delicate bubbles and a lingering foam.

You can find it in wine shops & supermarkets in Rhodes and in Greek online wine shops.