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In the Archaea region, high in the Northern Peloponnese mountains, the predominant grape varietal grown is the prized Mavrodaphne. Meaning 'Black Laurel', the Mavrodaphne grapes have extremely dark skins, and ripen slowly under the Greek sunshine, helped by the mineral rich soils the vines thrive in. This grape varietal is mostly used to produce the opaque, inky fortified wine of the same name, which is popular all over Greece and elsewhere in the world. This fortified wine allows the grapes to really show off their complex and fascinating flavors, which range from a rich marzipan to flavors of bitter chocolate, sweet coffee, dried figs and prunes, as well as plenty of jammy fruit notes.
Mavrodaphne is produced in a traditional method which involves leaving the grape juice exposed to the sun in large vats, before having its fermentation halted by the addition of various distillates taken from previous successful vintages. This mixture contains plenty of residual sugar, which gives the end result its characteristic sticky sweetness, and also helps with the next fermentation process, which typically takes place in large underground cellars. The final product is a heady drink, absolutely bursting with unusual, rich and sweet flavors and carried in a dark and slightly viscous Port-like liquid.
Mavrodaphne grapes are also used for the production of still red wines, but are generally blended with varietals such as Agiorgitiko or imported grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon. Mavrodaphne grapes are excellent for mellowing more acidic varieties, and producing deliciously rounded wines, which have taken the international market by storm in recent decades.