Athiri Aspro, pronounced “Ah thee’ ree A’spro”, is a green grape found mainly on several of the Greek Aegean islands.
The grape tends to produce aromatic wines, which generally are medium in alcohol but medium to low in acidity.
In spite of this, wines tend to be quite fresh and fruity with typically notes of lemon.
If you speak Italian it is not farfetched to think that “Aspro” has the same meaning in Greek as in Italian, e.g. “sour”. This is however not the case. “Aspro” in Greek means “White”.
The best wines are said to come from Santorini, particularly those blended with Assyrtiko and Aidani.
If you are to choose among Assyrtiko Aspro wines from Rhodes, aim for the ones grown on a bit of a higher altitude as they will come with higher levels of acidity, adding quality to the wine.
In Rhodes, Athiri Aspro is also used to produce the classical Greek wine Retsina. This seems however to be a decreasing usage of the grape.
An Athiri Aspro varietal wine does not improve from being stored in your cellar, but is better consumed early.
Suggested food pairing for an Athiri Aspro wine is for example sashimi, or squid. In Greece, it is also often enjoyed as an aperitif. An Athiri Aspro wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
Its plantings have decreased with forty-one percent between 2000 and 2010. With its 748 ha/1.848 ac in 2010, it was then the eighteenth most planted grape in Greece.
The decrease in acreage has taken place in the Greek Aegean island region. Here it lost forty-nine percent of its plantings in the same time period, with 623 ha/1.539 ac reported in 2010.
There has been a small increase in plantings in Kentriki Makedonia in the north of Greece, where the grape in 2010 was planted on 97 ha/240 ac.
Athiri Aspro is recognised as being indigenous to the Greek Aegean islands, and is viewed as one of the oldest grapes in Greece.
An interesting note is that the Retsina wine has been produced – with or without Athiri Aspro – for more than 5000 years.