Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Santorini. When a Volcano is a Blessing

Introduction: Discovering Greek Wines – A Palate Journey

On this 4-part sequence, “Greek Wines. Small-Scale + Massive Influence,” we take a look at why Greek wines needs to be in your radar.

Indigenous Grape Varieties: Greece boasts over 300 indigenous grapes, every with its personal distinct flavors and traits. This spectacular range permits wine lovers to discover a variety of grape expressions that showcase Greece’s wealthy viticultural heritage. From the crisp and mineral-driven Assyrtiko to the fragrant and floral Moschofilero, there’s a Greek wine to go well with each palate. Exploring these indigenous varieties is like embarking on a voyage by means of Greece’s terroir and tradition.

Distinctive Terroir: Greece’s various local weather, plentiful sunshine, and distinctive soil composition contribute to the distinctive high quality of its wines. The sunny and dry local weather permits grapes to totally ripen, leading to concentrated flavors and vibrant acidity. The skinny and poor soil, typically present in mountainous areas, forces the vines to wrestle, producing decrease yields however grapes of outstanding high quality. This mixture of things creates wines with complexity, depth, and a powerful sense of place.

Charming White Wines: Greek white wines have gained worldwide recognition for his or her excellent high quality and distinct character. Assyrtiko, primarily grown in Santorini, produces bone-dry wines with excessive acidity, pronounced minerality, and refreshing citrus flavors. Malagousia and Moschofilero provide fragrant profiles with floral notes and hints of unique fruits. These white wines are versatile and pair properly with varied cuisines, making them a pleasant addition to any wine assortment.

Expressive Pink Wines: Greek crimson wines, notably Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko, have additionally garnered consideration for his or her depth and complexity. Xinomavro, typically in comparison with Italy’s Nebbiolo, produces age-worthy reds with agency tannins, vibrant acidity, and flavors of darkish fruits, spices, and earth. Agiorgitiko, referred to as the “Blood of Hercules” delivers elegant and medium-bodied wines with crimson fruit flavors and silky tannins. These crimson wines provide a novel twist on basic grape varieties and supply a compelling expertise for wine fans.

Meals-Pleasant Types: Greek wines are identified for his or her food-friendliness and their capacity to fantastically complement the nation’s delicacies. With its emphasis on recent elements, fragrant herbs, and vibrant flavors, Greek delicacies pairs exceptionally properly with Greek wines. Whether or not you’re having fun with a seafood feast with a crisp Assyrtiko, pairing a lamb dish with a daring Xinomavro, or savoring Greek meze with a flexible Agiorgitiko, Greek wines elevate the eating expertise and create harmonious pairings.

picture courtesy of Wikipedia/wiki/silenus

Santorini. When a Volcano is a Blessing

The Greek wine journey extends to the fascinating area of Santorini, the place the traditional Greek god Dionysus is claimed to have originated. Santorini is steeped in historical mythology and formed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption that occurred in 1620 BCE predating the destruction of Pompeii.


Whereas it was a catastrophic occasion, it laid the muse for a terroir like no different, one which bestows an unparalleled character upon the wines of Santorini. The volcanic ash, pumice stone, solidified lava, and sand that blanketed the island fashioned the distinctive Santorini soil, referred to as aspa (Nykteri model mix of Assyritko with smaller quantities of Althiri and Aidani). The mineral-rich soil, extending to a depth of 100-130 toes, accommodates all important minerals besides potassium, contributing to the distinctive flavors and aromas present in Santorini wines.

Remarkably, the excessive sand composition of the soil, starting from 93 to 97 p.c, presents pure safety towards phylloxera, eliminating the necessity for grafting the vines onto rootstock. This pure immunity has allowed the vineyards of Santorini to thrive, with their un-grafted vines delving deep into the nutrient-rich earth.

The Mediterranean local weather additional shapes the viticultural panorama of Santorini. With delicate winters, sizzling summers, and scant rainfall of roughly 14 inches per yr, the vines have tailored to the dry situations. The porous pumice stones, plentiful within the soil, act as reservoirs, retaining treasured water for the vines’ sustenance. This distinctive mixture of local weather and soil prevents the event of mildew and illnesses, lowering the necessity for chemical remedies. Many vintners in Santorini embrace natural practices, leading to wines that mirror a dedication to sustainability and respect for the land.

To defend the vines from the island’s gusty winds, vine growers make use of a intelligent approach. They make the most of low-slung, spherical koulouri, resembling baskets, which shelter the vines and assist create a microclimate conducive to grape ripening. This progressive strategy, handed down by means of generations, provides yet one more layer of distinction to the winemaking course of in Santorini.

The results of this extraordinary terroir, mixed with the affect of the close by sea air, is the manufacturing of outstanding wines that embody the essence of Santorini. From crisp Assyrtiko with its zesty acidity and mineral spine to the elegant expressions of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.

Winemaker Challenges

Santorini, with its fragile viniculture trade, faces challenges because of its volcanic soils and sparse nutriments. The vineyards on the island are extensively spaced to maximise entry to those restricted assets. Through the years, the winery space has considerably decreased. Within the Sixties, there have been greater than 4,000 hectares of vineyards, however by 1980, it was diminished to half that measurement. At the moment, there are only one,100 hectares of winery remaining, supplying 21 wineries, and this quantity continues to say no annually.

The principal grape selection on Santorini is Assyrtiko, which accounts for 80 p.c of the vines. Different indigenous varieties are additionally grown, together with Athiri and Aidani, in addition to just a few hundred hectares of Syrah and native crimson grapes. Assyrtiko, specifically, is understood for producing highly effective, full-bodied wines with a excessive alcohol content material of as much as 15 p.c. These wines are characterised by their acidity, minerality; nuts, smoke, and butter, are bone-dry, and have a definite citrus aroma.

Moreover, Santorini is understood for its dessert wines known as “Vinsanto,” a reputation derived from Santorini itself. Vinsanto could be naturally candy or fortified and should be aged in oak barrels for at least two years. It’s famend for its velvety palate and displays aromas of crème brûlée, chocolate, and dried apricots.

Wine Notes

1.       Santo Vinsanto 2008. Assyrtiko 85 p.c. Aidani 15 p.c. Naturally candy wine from sun-dried grapes; 6 years in 225L 4th and fifth use oak barrels.

Santo Wines

The Union of Santorini Cooperatives is a company that has been working since 1947 and represents numerous lively members. The mission is to safeguard the native conventional cultivations and promote sustainable agriculture growth.

The give attention to producing high-quality Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini wines and merchandise is vital for preserving the distinctive traits of the area’s agricultural choices. By selling sustainable practices, the group ensures that the native cultivations can thrive whereas minimizing detrimental impacts on the setting.

The emphasis on biodiversity by means of a nursery of autochthonous varieties is especially noteworthy. By preserving and cultivating native grape varieties, the Cooperative contributes to the preservation of the island’s viticultural heritage. Moreover, the nursery serves as a base for finding out and trialing the cultivation of native grapes, which might result in additional developments in viticulture on the island.

Wines to Think about

In regards to the Grapes

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