Malagousia was rescued from virtual extinction in the 1970s by Professor Logothetis of Thessaloniki University, who collected vines from mountain villages in Greece and planted them in his experimental vineyard in Porto Carras, on the middle of the three fingers of the Halkidiki peninsula. The variety’s potential was spotted by Vangelis Gerovassiliou, who was the young oenologist at Porto Carras winery from the mid-1970s. In the ’80s, Roxane Matsa and one or two others began to propagate it further and the variety has since spread to many parts of Greece; there are now more than 300ha. Depending on vineyard site and practices – the variety’s natural vigour and productivity must be kept in check – it can produce a range of styles: from fresh, aromatic and delicate, suitable for drinking young, to more full-bodied wines, vinified at least partly in barrel. Malagousia’s distinctive aromas, ranging from basil, lime and citrus to exotic fruits, are prone to oxidation and care is needed in the winery. Try Gerovassiliou’s part-barrel-fermented version and crisp, unoaked styles from Alpha Estate and Thymiopoulos, as well as Boutari’s Malagousia Matsa. Gerovassiliou and Argatia, among others, are successfully blending it with Assyrtiko.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and Dr José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org