Wines of Santorini
What comes to mind when you think of the breathtaking island of Santorini? Picture perfect white washed villages with small blue domed churches, dramatic volcanic rock cliffs, beautiful crystal clear azure waters or perhaps eating delicious fresh grilled octopus right on the beach? Yes, all these things pop right into our heads, but what about wine? Santorini is home to one of the oldest vineyard and winemaking regions in the world (about 3500 years old) and yet few have ever tasted the high quality, mineral driven wines of this ancient Greek island.
On March 23rd I had the pleasure of attending a seminar and walk-around tasting of Santorini’s finest wines at BLT Fish in New York City, which was held for members of the wine trade and press, to promote a knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the island’s unique wines.
All of the wines in the first two flights (except one) were 100% Assyrtiko and although each wine had a distinctly different style and depth they mostly all shared a common citrusy, floral, aromatic, mineral quality which showed very well. You could even pick up a briney essence in a few of the wines due to the constant mists of the Aegean Sea settling onto the fruit. The second flight differed from the first, in that the wineries utilized oak in the fermentation or aging process
Our third and final guided flight was one of the Mediterranean’s most traditional and popular wines of the Old World called Vinsanto (wine of SANTO). Vinsanto is crafted by blending Assyrtiko with the more aromatic and naturally sweeter Aidani and Athiri varietals to produce a rich and elegant dessert wine. Vinsanto is produced by sun drying grapes, which are traditionally laid on the ground for a period of about two weeks and then undergo a long and slow fermentation. Finally the wines require a minimum of 24 months aging in oak barrels. This process produces a gorgeous golden honey to amber like colored sweet wine, with bouquets reminiscent of golden raisins, prunes, figs, sweet spices and other dried fruits. These wines would pair beautifully with almost any dessert from chocolate to ice cream, to crème brulee, to cheese plates, anything nutty, the possibilities are countless. I myself immediately wanted to dunk biscotti!
The seminar wrapped up with a winemaker panel discussion and immediately
Domaine Sigalas - Santorini 2010
Gaia - Thalassitis 2010
Santo Wines - Nykteri Reserve 2008
Artemis Karamolegos, San..Torini Winery -Vinsanto 2004
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