Tasted 2nd October 2019
Dafni is the Greek word for laurel – related of course to the bay leaf. This is the link which gives this white grape its first point of interest, because it makes a wine which smells very distinctly of bay leaf; I’ve not smelt any other drink like it. It makes a mid-weight wine, a touch phenolic as most Cretan whites are, with fair length. Not profound, but enjoyable drinking and probably an interesting food match, given its aromatic character.
But there is more to it than this; it’s an ancient variety, dating back to the bronze age. I was told that there is a clay tablet written in Linear B (the ancient Greek script) which talks about ‘wine made from dafni’. If so, then it must be about the oldest recorded variety we know of. The grape is indigenous only to a small area around Heraklion and localised there – but it is this origin that probably accounts for the ancient record, as it is the place where the Minoan centre of Knossos was situated, and it was probably therefore a major source of wine for the royal palace – where records were kept.