Santorini’s Unique and Inimitable Wines

Budget red wine

Santorini, located in the east and south of Athens, in the Aegean Sea, is one of the most popular Greek vacation spots for mainland Greeks and tourists.

The whitewashed houses contrast and beautifully deep blue sea, much to the delight of visitors and locals.

Santorini is a relatively small island (90 km2) and only 1400 hectares of vineyards planted in shallow depressions to protect vines from winds and preserve moisture, are in production.

The island receives little rain, but fogs are frequent providing sufficient moisture.

Yields per hectare range from 700 to 1000 kilograms, and phylloxera has never affected Santorini’s vineyards.

The main grape variety is assyrtiko, followed by aidani, and athiri. White santorini must contain a minimum of 75 per cent assyrtiko complemented with aidani and/or athiri.

Mavrodaphne and mandilaria are panted on a few hectares for red wines.

Generally, Santorini wines are bone dry, with piercing acidity, pleasant minerality, and balanced to complement seafood that is either fried, grilled or baked.

Santoirini nykteri wines are made using late harvested grapes and are sweet. This style goes back to Venetian rule in the Middle Ages when the affluent city-state dominated eastern Mediterranean trade.

A few years ago, the owner of the Kolonaki Group in Toronto organized a Santorini wine tasting of eight wines from a range of vintages. All the wines were decanted and presented by the owner of the Domain Sigalas who studied mathematics and lectured at the University of Athens, to buy vineyards on his native island.

All the wines tasted were exemplary in their crystalline yellow colour, beautiful fruity, citrus aromas, well balanced with long and memorable finishes.

Sigalas also produces a late harvest Santorini, a rose, three reds, and one vinsanto style wine.

He explained to wine writers that he is still experimenting with different winemaking techniques (i.e stainless steel fermentation, barrel aging, fermenting in barrels and stirring lees) and increasing vine density from the traditional 1500 per hectare to 10 000, which

he believes to be sustainable although the climate is too dry, except the fog.

Other wineries such as Estate Argyros, H. Hatzidakis, Boutari, Santo, Gavalas, and Gaia are only some of the better-known producers. All export the majority of their bottlings to the United Kingdom, the U.S.A,

Now increasingly to Canada. Surprisingly, France also imports some Santorini wines as thousands of Greeks call this country home.

Santorini’s cuisine is seafood based, uses mostly olive oil, and the preferred starch base happens to be wheat bread. Vegetables and fruits are local or imported from the mainland.

The cuisine is Mediterranean and goes best with local specialties i.e. grilled langouste, local fish species, and simply sautéed vegetables accented with lemon juice.


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