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Malagousia White Wine: The Seductress of Greek Wine (2023)

Although Greece is one of the oldest wine industries in the world dating back to the Bronze age, some of the varieties that have come to epitomize the Greek wines of today only surfaced in the last few decades. One such grape is Malagousia, sometimes spelled Malagouzia. The story of how this nearly-extinct grape grew to be the brightest white wine star of northern Greece shows how much chance and luck play a role.

Vineyards in Halkidiki, Greece

History of Malagousia

Malagousia was unknown before the 1970’s when a professor of oenology, Dr. Logothetis, passed off some vine clippings to one of his most promising students, Evangelos Gerovassiliou. Gerovassiliou did not fumble Malagousia’s fate. The last three vines of Malagousia serendipitously landed in the right hands to become one of the most widely planted grapes of Greece. Gerovassiliou has nurtured this grape endlessly for decades. Needless to say that Gerovassiliou Malagousia is the flagship brand of this grape.

Best Wine Regions for Malagousia

It is a gorgeous white wine and rightfully nicknamed, the seductress. Malagousia’s charms have enchanted Greek winemakers and wine lovers ever since. Malagousia dominates in the north but has been planted across the mainland and the islands.

The best regions for Malagousia are in Macedonia, Greece where the climate is harsher than one expects from Greece. Epanomi, Drama, Amyndeon dominate in the North. However, in Thessalia and Tyrnavos in Central Greece, Malagousia is just as beautiful and expressive. Wineries surrounding the capital of Athens have had a lot of success with Malagousia as well. A few winemakers are experimenting with orange and natural wines made with Malagousia with some very interesting results.

malagousia grapes
Photos from Nicos Lazaridis

6 Malagousia Wines to Try

What does Malagousia Look Like?

In the vineyard, Malagousia is high-yielding and adaptable to many different climates. If the yields are kept low, the resulting wine is worth the economic loss. Meaning, yeah, you’re getting a lot less wine but the wine that you do get is very good.

In the glass, unoaked Malagousia is pale straw with green highlights. Oaked versions are yellow-straw with gold highlights.

What does Malagousia Smell Like? 

Malagousia pulls you in with intoxicating smells. It is a highly aromatic grape. The aromas perfectly reflect the peach blossoms, flowers, apricots, and nectarines that share the land from which it originates. Some Malagousia has a herbal note as well like mint and wild herbs. A citrus note of grapefruit and lime is found in Malagousia grown in higher altitudes.

What does Malagousia Taste Like?

Malagousia finishes her seduction with supple acidity and a velvety, almost oily texture. Malagousia is medium-bodied and dry despite the dominant fruit character. Alcohol levels can reach high levels in warmer climates. Its distinctiveness is not overpowered if a winemaker chooses to use oak barrels and extended lees contact. These more voluptuous, spicier styles are the best expression of the grape

For more white wines with lower acidity levels, check this out.

malagousia food pairing

Malagousia Food Pairing

Malagousia’s richness and mellow acidity makes it a nice pairing with fatty fish like salmon and makarel. Roasted poultry, cream sauces, and risottos are a great match, too. Vegetable korma is particularly good with Malagousia. Try Malagousia with this Lebanese dish!

Late-harvest sweeter styles of Malagousia are fantastic with peach or apple tarts and fruit pies. Sweet Malagousia also pairs nicely with strong cheese like blue or aged cheddar.

What is Malagousia Like?

I don’t love to compare Greek grapes with international varieties but I understand how that’s helpful. The two grapes that come to mind that are reminiscent of Malagousia are Viognier for oaked Malagousia because of the aroma profile and Gewurztraminer for unoaked versions because of the perfumey nose met with low acidity on the palate.

Serving and Storage Suggestions for Malagousia

Malagousia should be served with a chill of about 45F/8C. If you’re enjoying Malagousia during a summer vacation in Greece, best to keep it on ice. Oaked Malagousia will benefit from aeration but does not need to be decanted. Serve in a classic white wine glass. Unoaked Malagousia should be enjoyed within 2-3 years. Oaked Malagousia can age up to 5 years.

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