We have uttered the above countless times when referring to the wines of Santorini, but we refer to them more and more when we go on a Santorini wine tour. The truth is that none of the above seems inaccurate when used to describe any Assyrtiko.Frighteningly low Ph, minerality, endless nerve, tannic finish, unbridled power are the characteristics of the Santorini wines.

So in the context of the tasting nights “Krasarismata” – hosted at the wonderful Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro – for the first time I blindly brought in glasses 10 wines inside and outside the island.

Tours on Santorini wineries

The selection of the teams was made with criteria that I thought would confuse the deck as much as possible and therefore the others consisted of Assyrtiko Athanassiou, Linos Stavropoulou, Alba Vissa Karadimou, Assyrtiko “Alepotrypa” Hatzimichalis and Assyrtiko Lalikou. Wines which I not only really appreciate but which are produced in conditions closer to Santorini. This was the reason why (apart from the latter) I did not include representatives from the emblematic vineyard of Drama, which while pioneering the cultivation of the variety in mainland Greece offers the most fruity style.

On the other hand, I avoided all these strange and special Santorini of the new wave, choosing classic (of course vinified in a tank) labels. And this is because without ignoring the greatness of the first, I believe that wines such as Thalassitis of Gaia, Santorini Sigala, Santorini Karamolegkou and Assyrtiko Argyrou “safely” express the formality of this great terroir.

And this formality shone in the tasting with the wines of the island standing out clearly, not so much quality but stylistic. The first big difference was in the body where the Santorini appeared lighter confirming the numbers where they wanted their average alcohol to be at least half a degree lower than their competitors. But the difference in savagery was even greater, since free from any idea of ​​sweet fruit, they pounded relentlessly with acid aggression, lemony domination and Doric austerity. Finally, Santorini validated its character with a characteristic Tan signature much “redder” than the rest.

We may often find ourselves finding a Santorini sweeter than another, or an off-island Assyrian characteristically acidic or astringent, but the “side by side” test shone brightly on which side each wine belonged to!

I am sure that some people will have scored 4 in Santorini, since the representative of the surprisingly well-formed Santo Wines was missing from them. Having noticed the special quality and its even more special character, I chose from its range Assyrtiko Organic, a wine from 2 organic vineyards of the Diocese with an age of only 7-8 years! And yes, this creamy and very fruity Santorini managed to shuffle the deck for good and show us that the old age of the island’s vineyard may be responsible more than all the other factors for the uniqueness of this terroir.

Wines of Santorini

Many thoughts could be made regarding the choice of wines and many assumptions regarding the outcome of another similar test. However, the clarity that does not translate into better or more enjoyable wines – since the representatives outside Santorini were the same or perhaps more pleasant – but in a more recognizable character. After all, what exactly is a terroir other than a taste monopoly?

Santorini belongs to the island complex of the Cyclades and covers an area of ​​73 km. It belongs to the volcanic arc of the Aegean and is considered an active volcano. The vineyard of Santorini is one of the few in Europe that due to its volcanic soil was not hit by the phylloxera that destroyed the European vineyard. Today Santorini produces wines that are exported to most countries in Europe and the developed world.

The main variety of the island is Assyrtiko, which covers about 70% of the total vineyard. It is also the base of OPAP Santorini together with Athiri, which is the second bigger of the white variety of the island. A third white variety, Aidani, is cultivated in Santorini.

Assyrtiko is considered one of the best white varieties of the Mediterranean and gives wines with high acidity and intensely fruity aromas. Especially in Santorini, Assyrtiko acquires unique characteristics due to the peculiarity of the volcanic soil. In Santorini we also find the famous Vinsanto, a sun-dried aging wine produced from the same white varieties.

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