Category Archives: Santorini

Apr 04 2015

The Dynamic Wineries of Santorini

Posted on April 04, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Ironically the dire state of Greek economy has actually helped spur a renaissance in Greek’s most prestigious wine region – the picturesque Cycladic island of Santorini, about 250 km southeast of Athens.

Markos Kafouros, president of Santo Wines, a wine cooperative of about 1,000 active small growers, told the Wine Spectator’s Kim Marcus that “Because of the economic crisis, a lot of young people are cultivating grapes.” (Greek Revival: A modernizing wine industry lights the way in this ancient land by Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator, 15 November 2014)

Further encouraged by the growing demand for Greek wines in the capital of Athens and beyond, Santorini is now producing a high number of consistently well-made wines.

As well as the cooperative, Santorini is home to a dozen small independent wineries. Around 14 per cent (approximately 3,200 acres) of the island is under vine. The focus is definitely on realising the potential of Santorini’s indigenous grape varieties, which in addition to the flagship white variety assyrtico, include aidini and athiri and the red grape variety of mavrotragano. In recent years, some of the larger producers have started exporting up two-thirds of their production.

 

HatzidakisSantorini winemakers credit winemaker Yiannis Boutaris, originally of Boutari, with the birth of modern winemaking on the island.

According to the Wine Spectator’s Robert Camuto, in the late 1980s Boutaris introduced earlier harvests, pneumatic presses and longer, cooler fermentations. These techniques allowed winemakers to move away from high alcohol, sweet styles to the dry, fresh and minerally-laced assyrtico whites that have captured the attention of the world’s top critics. (Discovering Santorini by Robert Camuto, Wine Spectator, 15 November 2014)

Today, other top wineries like Estate Argyros, Hatzidakis Wines and Domaine Sigalas are continuing to innovate in order to bring out the best in Santorini’s … Read the rest

Apr 04 2015

Santorini’s Assyrtico: A wine that invites Chablis comparisons!

Posted on April 04, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I’ve noticed that dry assyrtico, an aromatic white wine made from the indigenous grape of Santorini, often comes up in discussions about minerality in wine. This relatively unfamiliar Greek wine is mentioned alongside the legendary chardonnays of Chablis and the renowned rieslings of Mosel as a wonderful example of a wine that truly reflects the character of its unique terroir.

In fact The New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov noted that during a blind tasting reviewers frequently compared Santorini assyrtico with Chablis:

These wines in particular show pure briny, mineral flavors, as if they were the concentrated essence of millions of tiny seashells. Not once but several times during the blind tasting a comparison was made to Chablis, which cuts a similarly saline profile. (As Greek as the Sea by Eric Asimov, The New York Times 23 May 2013)

Assyrtico is Greece’s most iconic grape variety

Assyrtico is Greece’s most iconic grape variety. It thrives in the nutrient depleted, wind-swept volcanic soils of Santorini, an island southeast of mainland Greece in the Agean Sea.

santorini-assyrtiko-grapesSantorini is an unusual place to grow grapes. It’s actually dry enough to be classified as a desert and very windy. Over the centuries vineyard proprietors have developed novel methods to cope with the problematic conditions. The vines, for example, are trained to weave themselves into ground-hugging, basket-like shapes which act as a protective balls around the fruit. Interestingly, some of the best vintages occur in years when the weather is particularly windy. The wind brings much needed moisture from the sea to the grapes.

Greece is host to some of the oldest vines in Europe

Santorini vineyardSome assyrtico vines are up to 70 years of age and are grown on original root stocks that are more than 300 years old. Santorini’s sulphur-rich, porous soils … Read the rest