Santorini, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, makes a spectacular first impression on the visitor. Located approximately 90 nautical miles from Athens, the island draws millions of tourists because of its beauty, tranquility, and way of life.
Practically all houses are on steep slopes, most overlooking the azure sea, and painted white to reflect the sunshine.
People eat simple but tasty, fresh foods; mainly fish, vegetables, yoghurt, salads, olive oil and herbs, and they drink the local wine at every meal.
At 5 p m, most of the population in each village walks to the town square to see and to be seen, exchange news, gossip, and after an hour or more all disappear for dinner.
Viticulture on the island goes back to antiquity (17th century B.C), but was destroyed by a spectacular volcanic eruption in 1620 B C and only restored only 400 years later. The unique volcanic soil of Santorini shelters the vineyards of the dreaded phylloxera vastatrix. The island is one of the few regions in the world that have been spared by this disease (Chile, Cyprus, and a few regions in Portugal are the others). All vines are propagated traditionally.
The soil is mostly sand, including a mixture of volcanic ash and pumice.
Santorini’s climate is Mediterranean, with mild winters, hot summers interspersed with northern winds, and sea breezes. The average rainfall is 350 mm.
Each vine is planted in a deep whole to protect it from strong winds, and trained in a “basket” form to absorb the little moisture in teh wind.
The daily temperature variance preserves acidity, and most of Santorini’s wines are dry and acid-driven, yet extremely aromatic, precise, ad with superb balance. All are particularly well suited for fish prepared simply – pan-fried, grilled, or poached.
The appellation of Santorini allows the use of tree grape varieties, of which assyrtiko and athiri are the most important and widely planted.
Assyrtiko is now also planted on mainland Greece, but yields completely different wines.
Santorini’s wines possess a fine texture, pronounced acidity, minerality, brilliance and purity.
Athiri is an aromatic grape with low acidity and low alcohol potential, mainly planted on the island of Rhodos and now also on Santorini.
By law, white Santorini must contain 75 per cent assyrtiko.
There are several wineries on the island, but Domaine Sigalas, Boutari, and few others dominate production and exports.
Domaine Sigalas is represented in Ontario by the Kolonaki Group.