9 Sep 2008 by Jancis Robinson

The island’s most exciting vine product is Commandaria, a historic dark, raisiny dessert wine which could be very good indeed. For a long time Cyprus concentrated too heavily on very ordinary bulk wine, grape concentrate and pretend sherries to have a particularly bright medium-term future. But President Gorbachev’s attempt to sober up his nation and the fall of communism had the indirect effect of waking up the Cypriot wine industry from its long slumber. The docile Soviet market, for long a repository for the sort of very cheap, very ordinary wine exported in bulk by the island’s dominant large producers, disappeared. Today, companies like Etko and Keo are making increasingly sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache table wines, and there is greater understanding of the need to process grapes as close to the vineyard as possible rather than trucking them through the midday sun to the coast where the big traditional wineries are. Grapes are also being picked earlier in order to retain their fruitiness. I have yet to sample the fruits of these determined efforts at improvement myself, but I hear good things of this hospitable island