“On this island there is a treasure which only the king of kings deserves to hold”.

These were the words through the tradition of Sultan Selim II, “the Drunkard” as he was known, when in 1571 had an excuse to occupy the island of Cyprus. Truth or lie, the treasure which was referred to in popular legend, the Ottoman Sultan, was none other than that of sweet drink Commandaria. And this wasn’t the first time that the royal wine finds panegyrist. Had preceded the Franks tourists and Venetians abbots, geographers, Apostles, and ancient writers, from Homer to Strabo.

The sweet drink nama, with its long history, is the oldest wine with a Protected Designation of Origin, which, however, managed to secure 800 years after the appearance of the, in 1990.

The Commandaria, has been the creation of the Order of the Knights Templar, who, when they bought Cyprus from Richard Coeur de lion, they split the island into three administrative units called Commanderies. The largest of these, was that of Limassol, on the basis of Kolossi, in the fields which were cultivated vineyards of excellent quality. The Knights, all excellent connoisseurs of the living breathing created the unique wine which took the name of the administrative unit and made Cyprus known and sought-after in European salons.

The villages of Cyprus which today produce commandaria, belong strictly in the area of Commandaria wine and is 14: Agios Georgios, Agios Konstantinos, Agios Mamas, Ayios Pavlos, Apsiou, Gerasa, Doros, Zoopigi, Kalo Chorio, Tavern, Lania, Louvaras, Monagri, Sylikou. Because of the relative legislation stipulates that must not be produced more than 450 pounds per tenth, the grapes are rich in aromas and flavors, giving excellent wine product. Commandaria, from the middle Ages to the present, is the mixture of the varieties Xynisteri and Black.

This is for “sun-dried wine”, as it is called due to the ancient practice because of increased taste value. In mid-September, which is the appropriate period of maturation of the grapes, starts the harvest. The grapes are left exposed to the sun for about ten days, dehydrate and thus condense more sugar and make the features of their aromas. Then with the fermentation, the yeasts metabolize the sugar that they themselves have created and the wine that is produced remains sweet.

Then, by law, the wines must be aged for at least two years. At that time, the aromas are enriched with those of the oak and the oxidation and create a rich and harmonious whole with touches of vanilla, pepper and coffee. This is a bouquet created by a combination of the over-matured grapes on the vine, drying in the sun, the fermentation and the maturation in the barrel.

Commandaria stands out but not only for perfumes but also for the very sweet flavors. When it comes into contact with the palate leaves raisin flavors, such as dates, figs, foinikia and roasted nuts such as hazelnuts and walnuts. When Commandaria is aged for more than ten years, the flavors become even more sweet and reminiscent of caramel and fruits. The texture is viscous and velvety with a long aftertaste.

Today, more and more wineries are attempting the creation of commandaria, maintaining and perpetuating the Cyprus wine tradition.

Take a sip to discover the richness of this elegant wine by Oenou Yi – Ktima Vassiliades.