What is Xynisteri? The Cypriot grape variety that tolerates a hot Australian climate and also delivers on taste

Alexander Copper Cypriot grape varieties

Soon you might be taking a new wine to your next Aussie barbecue: Xynisteri.

Research at the University of Adelaide led by PhD candidate Alexander Copper have been investigating three Cypriot grape varieties. As well as growing well in hot and dry Australian vineyards, the grapes proved to make tasty wines comparable to Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

“With climate change placing greater strain on the resources needed to sustain viticulture, it is necessary for the global wine industry to investigate alternative grape varieties better suited to hotter climates,” says Copper.

“While the ability to tolerate hotter climates is critical for any alternative varieties considered, they also need to deliver on taste.”

The team investigated the compounds responsible for aroma and flavour – called thiols – in Xynisteri, a white grape, and Maratheftiko and Giannoudhi, two red varieties.

They found the white wines had grapefruit, passionfruit and tropical aromas, and that their concentrations of thiols was similar to popular Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blancs. Xynisteri was particularly popular when taste tested.

“The panel of wine experts in the sensory study identified flavours upon tasting Xynisteri wines that were comparable to Pinot Gris, which aligns with what we found when analysing the compounds present in both Pinot Gris and several varieties of Xynisteri,” says Copper.

“In consumer trials, consumers ‘liked’ the flavour of the Cypriot varieties, and in one segment of consumers, Xynisteri was preferred to Pinot Gris.”

“This latest research adds further support for considering Cypriot varieties for use in Australia and other hot wine growing regions.”

The Xynisteri grapes will be trialled by Paulmara Wines in the Barossa Valley later this year.

A paper describing the research is published in OENO One and follows earlier studies by University of Adelaide wine scientists.

Tagged in Research, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Viticulture and Oenology