Wine Talk

Snooth User: cjelepis


Posted by cjelepis, Jun 26, 2011.

Re-Posted by Sonata Wine:

Greek wines Rule!

OK, let's start with Santorini.  First off, the island is breathtakingly beautiful, situated in the Southern Aegean Sea.  Single-story, cubical pure white houses adorn the island, peering out over the blue sea, with black pumice and ash providing the landscape.  The island is actually the remains of an ancient volcanic eruption; this cataclysmic geologic event has led to an incredily unique terroir with a pumice-ash soil structure (phylloxera-free, due to the absence of organic material in the soil) and steep, exposed cliffs that are and exposed to fierce Aegean winds. 

The wines here are made from the white Assyrtiko varietal (at least 75% by law).  The vines are grown close to the ground in a manner more reminiscent of crowns or baskets, and the grapes are grown inside, with the outer "basket" protecting the fruit from the high winds.

Despite a hot growing season and relative aridity, the wine has incredibly crisp tartaric acidity.  The moist sea air of the night deposits salt in the soil and on the vines. The note of salinity on the palate is tasted simultaneously with the sizzling, refreshing acidity of the tartaric acid. The wine seems remarkably solid and dense in the mouth, with strong notes of minerality and lemon.

Our Wine: Thira Estate Santorini

When we first arrived in Santorini, I met the winemaker - Artemis - and his family.  Artemis does not speak much English, and I speak even less Greek, but it was clear that we were to become friends.  His first comments to me - through an interpreter - were disappointment that I'd already booked a hotel room, and was not staying in one of the hotels that he owned.  "THIS," I though, "IS WHY I GOT INTO THE WINE BUSINESS!!!" 

Artemis proceeded to take me to his winery, where tasted the outstanding Santorini (in this case, 100% Assyrtiko), pictured above.  I won't bore you with too many of the technical details (email me at if you'd like a Tech Sheet); but what I loved about this wine was the purity of the grapes, the clean mineral slate-like character, and the flood of lemon blossom in the mid-palate and finish.

An awesome wine with scallops, grilled octopus, or flaky white fish, this wine has the acidity to age (in reality, Santorini Assyrtikos can go for 15-20 years or more!!!), but also the punch to hold up against white meat or fattier meats. 


Reply by dmcker, Jun 26, 2011.

Good start, cjelepis. Any more detailed tasting notes?

You'll note in this other thread that GregDP, editor at Snooth, will shortly be in Santorini. Any other recommendations from there? I've had several other good wines that I've mentioned in a few past posts which you can find through the Forum search function.

Looking forward to your intros to other parts of Greece, too.


Reply by cjelepis, Jun 26, 2011.

Thanks for the tips, dmcker!

Also, here are some more detailed tasting notes, as well as some technical data about the vineyard (if you're interested in that type of thing:

This wine is vinified using cold maceration at controlled temperatures and classical white vinification at 17 degrees Celcius.  Maturation is then used with the "batonnage sur lies" method.

Tasting notes: Bright yellow color with some green notes. Complex aromas of lemon, citrus and exotic fruits. Rich and well balanced in mouth with crisp, refreshing acidity and long aromatic finish.   It should be serve at 10-12oC with shellfish, seafood, grilled fish, green salads & various Mediterranean cuisines. 

Analytical Data

Winemaking Information
- Varietal composition: Assyrtico 100%
- Harvest time: around August 15
- First vintage of this wine: 2009
- Number of bottles produced for this wine: 30,000
- Fermentation container: Stainless Steel - Length of alcoholic fermentation: 20 days
- Fermentation temperature: 60.8 degrees

Oenology Information
- Alcohol percent: 13.5%
- pH level: 3.1
- Residual sugar (grams/liter): 2.9
- Acidity (grams/liter): 5.98
- Dry extract

Vineyard Characteristics
- Production area/name of vineyard: Exo Gonia - Pyrgos
- Size of vineyard: 24 hectares
- Soil composition: volcanic
- Elevation: 500 m
- Yield per acre: 3000-5000 kg/hectare  
- Vines 50-70 years old
- Agronomist/vineyard manager: Apostolos Matamis
Reply by dmcker, Jun 26, 2011.

Noticed you mentioned the vin santo from Santorini, too. Have enjoyed that there, though won't agree it's the best dessert wine in the world. Nonetheless, it can be very good. Believe I even mentioned it some time ago in a thread mostly about Italian vin santo....

Reply by cjelepis, Jun 26, 2011.

Maybe not THE best in the world, but certainly I think it's up there as far as quality.  Haven't even started talking about the Muscat from Samos, but that's for another post...

Reply by dmcker, Jun 27, 2011.

Was going to ask about it if you didn't mention it. Think I've talked about it, before, too (unless I'm thinking of another board, but don't think I am...).

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 1, 2011.

Heaven's Dog, Charles Phan's casual place in SF, had some Assyrtico based wines on the menu and it has been a great accompaniment to some of his dishes.  His cooking--he's ethnically Chinese and came here from Vietnam, and is famous for The Slanted Door ( pairs well with Rieslings, but if you want something different, the Assyrtico based wines are good.  Checking their latest menu, however, I don't see them, which is a pity, as they go surprisingly well with Asian food.

Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
29 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
19 posts
89564 Snooth User: GregT
5 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network