The Santorini Island in the Aegean Sea is a tourist magnet for sun-starved northern Europeans. Tourism plays an important role in this island’s economy, but so does wines.
Viticulture on Santorini goes back to antiquity. Although the island lies between 36 – 37 north latitudes, the mostly white wines that consist of indigenous Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri are dry and very appealing with citrus notes, appreciable minerality, and viscous texture.
The unique soil of Santorini, which protected the vineyards (presently 1400 hectares) from phylloxera, consists of volcanic ash, sand and pumice. All vines are naturally grafted, a process which takes three to five years to complete.
The vines are pruned and formed in such a fashion that force the plant to build a crown in a whole dug to protect it from winds. The vines survive by absorbing the water stored in the pumice, and dew that occur early in the morning.
Precipitation is approximately 180-mm., which represents only 30 percent of the amount a vine needs to thrive.
The law stipulates that Santorini wine must contain a minimum of 75 per cent Assyrtiko, the rest Aidani and/or Athiri. Many reputable and quality-oriented wineries use exclusively Assyrtiko.
Assyrtiko has a high natural acidity and aromatic, qualities that contribute to its popularity on mainland Greece. Yet Santorini’s Assyrtiko, at least to my palate, tastes far more appealing and memorable.
Mr. Sigalas founded Domain Sigalas in 1991. By training, he is a mathematician, but fell in love with Santorini and decided to settle there to make wine. He likes to experiment with new techniques to improve flavours and increase purity of his wiens.
Recently. Mr. Sigalas was in Toronto and offered a unique opportunity for a vertical tasting of his wines:
2003 Citrus aromas jump out of the glass. The wine offers a refines mouth feel, with ample minerality in Burgundian style.
2003 Barrel Aged generally Santorini white wines are not barrel aged, but Mr. Sigalas decided to experiment. This wine offers honeyed aromas, and a full body with a long and satisfying finish. This is an excellent, flavourful Mediterranean fish wine.
2005 superbly balances, with good acidity and minerality. Needs deep-fried seafood i.e breaded-squid, or baked mackerel, or beer-battered halibut
2006 excellent and appealing mouth feel, with a pleasantly bitter undertone and great minerality
2007 a mouth-watering wine offering aromas of fully ripe grapes, earthiness and power.
2008 barrel aged an acid-driven powerful wine with perceptible tannins from French oak barrels
2009 very appealing, aromatic, high-alcohol and mouth-watering wine. It would be excellent with shrimps in a cream sauce and dill, or boiled lobster with drawn butter, or poached salmon with Sauce Hollandaise.
2010 Smooth, full-bodied, honeyed with fine acidity and nuanced mouth feel.
Try it with baked halibut, filet of sole Meuniere, smoked salmon, or grilled lobster.
For orders contact www.kolonakigroup.com