Tag: Assyrtiko

Jul 07 2016

Rave Reviews for Santorini’s Assyrtiko

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

“Among the World’s Great Whites”

Not sure about you, but a few years ago I’d never heard of Assyrtiko, the native white grape of Santorini? So I was intrigued to read that the Wine Advocate’s Mark Squires, no less, claims that as a category Assyrtikos are “among the world’s great whites.” He goes on to say that Assyrtiko is “simply brilliant, a high-upside white grape that works well in every incarnation: unoaked, oaked, Nykteri, monovarietals, blends (with Aidani and Athiri) and sweet (Vinsanto) versions.” (Greece: The Santorini Special by Mark Squires, eRobertParker.com, 30 October 2015)

And the reviews are just as good for Assyrtiko’s ageing prospects. According to Squire, “they have the structure to age far better than people think…I find it hard to believe, say, that a top level Assyrtiko from a good producer in a good year shouldn’t go (at least) a decade.”

Fortunately I’ve enjoyed some terrific Assyrtikos over the last couple of years. Top notch importers like David Lamb of Douglas Lamb Wines have helped to introduce Australians to Santorini’s best producers, and you’ll now find Assyrtiko on the wine lists of many of country’s top restaurants.

For a grape that hails from one of the hottest and driest wine regions in the world, Assyrtiko has a surprising level of acidity (hence, it’s impressive ageing potential) and a minerality that often invites comparisons with Chablis.

Gai'a ThalassitisOne of the best examples of dry assyrtiko, the Gai’a 2015 Thalassitis, is currently listed on the Cellarit Wine Market. Here’s Squires’ 92 point review:

The 2015 Thalassitis is Gai’a’s familiar, old-vines Assyrtiko, unoaked and without malolactic fermentation (as the winery points out, “due to the climate conditions of Santorini the wine contains no malic acid, thus no malolactic fermentation is required”). It comes in at just 12.9% alcohol. Read the rest

Jun 06 2015

The Wonderful Diversity of Greek Grape Varieties

Posted on June 06, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

You may be surprised to learn that Greece has an estimated 300 indigenous grape varieties!

Of course, winemaker and consumer attention is focused on what are commonly referred to as the big four: Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Moschofilero and Assyrtiko, but other interesting grapes like Malagousia have also attracted a following. Crete has its own indigenous varieties: Vidiano and Liatiko.

Here’s a little bit of information about each of these varieties.

Xinomavro (ksee NO ma vro) – This red grape variety from northern Greece has been called a cult wine in the making. It is widely considered Greece’s finest red wine and often invites comparisons with the famous Barolo wines of Italy’s Piedmont region. Much like Nebbiolo, Xinomavro tends to be tannic in youth, but becomes more elegant with ageing. The best examples of Xinomavro have extraordinary depth and complexity. Typical aromas include black olive, spices, earth, and dark fruit.

Naoussa, a green and lush region that sits at the base of a mountain range, is the most important appellation associated with the variety, but Nemea, on the Peloponnese peninsula, also makes impressive Xinomavro.

Agiorgitiko (ah yor YEE ti ko) – Native to Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula and one of its oldest varieties, this fragrant, versatile grape makes suave, full-bodied, fruit forward reds with supple red plum and berry flavours and plush tannins. Agiorgitiko means “St George’s Grape”, and is probably named for a chapel near Nemea. It’s also associated with the Ancient Greek half-god Heracles.

The higher-altitude vineyards of Nemea, where some of the semi-mountainous vineyards are between 450 and 650 metres above sea level, insure a long growing season, allowing the fruit to ripen slowly and retain enough acidity to create balanced, well structured wines.

Moschofilero (mos ko FEE le Ro) – A very aromatic white grape variety form the … Read the rest