The fascinating Vidiano grape on the vine.

Forever giving props to the underdog, I felt particularly sorry to discover that the lowly Vidiano varietal didn’t even warrant a Wikipedia page or inclusion within the very back pages of my older edition of Jancis Robinson’s veritable “grape bible” Wines, Grapes, and Vines.

The Vidiano (Pronounced Vee-Dyah-Noh), also known as Avidiano and Avydiano, is indigenous to the southern Greek island of Crete, where it is planted in truly minuscule quantities. So small are the plantings there that finding a bottle of Vidiano to sample the grape’s delights is a challenge in itself.

Vidiano is mainly planted around the city of Rethymnon, and from a small cluster of vineyards to the east closer to Heraklion, with the very best wines coming from the higher altitude mountainside vineyards.

The Vidiano grape is occasionally blended with the Vilana varietal (for some reason Vilana DOES have a Wikipedia entry!) and some winemakers are experimenting with some subtle oak treatments… although I’m not holding my breath for anything special there, saying that Winemaker Emmanuala Paterianakis recently told me that she feels that the grapes affinity for oak is something that is yet to be discovered.

It appears that plantings of this truly obscure grape are slowly increasing as a new generation of young winemakers have taken a shine to Vidiano, often speaking of it as Greece’s Viognier and pushing for a revival of this ancient varietal. I think that they may just be onto something.

There are certainly some similarities to Viognier; the propensity towards higher alcohol, the aromatics of super-ripe stone fruit, and the rich, opulent palate, but for me the Vidiano is something all to its own. For me it tends to exhibit a wonderful floral and herbal bouquet (think apple blossom and oregano) as well as a posessing tantalisingly crisp acidity, something that many Viognier bottlings are sadly lacking.

My most successful food pairing with the Vidianos I have had the pleasure of sampling have been with simply prepared grilled fish from the sea with a healthy twist of lemon and a sprinkling of authentic Greek oregano. There’s something about the charred flesh of the fish that works with a certain smokiness I find on my favourite bottles.


Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he thinks that it’s a shame we don’t see more Vidiano.