Commandaria Wine, Cyprus Traditional Wine
Commandaria has a rich history dating to Homeric times when it was a popular drink at festivals celebrating the goddess of beauty Aphrodite who emerged from the sea at Paphos in Cyprus - a scene immortalized by Botticelli's famous painting, "the Birth of Venus". King Richard the Lionheart of England is said to have enjoyed Commandaria greatly at his wedding in Limassol in 1191, and to have pronounced it "the wine of kings and the king of wines."
When the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem bought Cyprus from King Richard , they gave the name of their Headquarters (Grand Commanderie) to this unique dessert wine with its delicate aroma and started exporting it to Europe where it became famous. In a competition with other wines organized by the King of France Philippe Augustus, Commandaria was crowned as the "Apostle of Wines" and became synonymous with nobility, aristocracy and culture. More recently, at an exhibition of Mediterranean wines in Leipzig, Kalo Chorio Commandaria was voted as the best wine. Today Commandaria is exported to many parts of the world. Though enjoyable all day through, and on the rocks, traditionally it should be the last drink following a delicious meal or a happy occasion.
The grapes have to be very mature to make Commandaria, so the harvest starts after mid-September. The grapes should be laid on the ground on plastic sheets for 10-15 days. In this way the water evaporates and the sugar is concentrated. After this, the grapes are gathered and transferred to the wineries where they are ground and pressed by specialized machinery to extract the sweet juice. The juice is kept in the wine vats, and with the fermentation that follows, we produce the traditional Commandaria.
The European Union, the United States of America and Canada recognize Commandaria as official appellation of origin of Cyprus.