Santorini

santorini_satellite_imagePeople have been asking me over the last couple of weeks if the WINEDAR is broken?  I’d like to report that it’s working just fine, and I have been drinking some really good wine.  The truth is I’ve been busy with the rest of my life, and as a result September was a blur.  I became a Grandfather, welcoming my grandson Beny to the world.  We hosted family from Australia, and that was a blast!  Work, as always, has been a hassle, then we have the crisis du jour, and frankly I’d rather drink wine than write about it.

I confess, I have been struggling with the blog.  I want it to be fun, interesting, and informative.  I want to get you fired up and excited to go explore and drink wine.  I want you to enjoy it, look forward to it, and tell about 50 million of your friends about it so they read it too. What I don’t want to do is become like Apple and put an “I” in front of everything.

One of the places that the WINEDAR, and my son in law, has lead me to explore is Greece.  They have been making wine in Greece for roughly 6,000 years, which means they might get it right yet. Ouch! That’s not to say the wine isn’t good it is, but it still hasn’t quite got the bang of say Spain or Portugal.  Greece is making huge progress, and the wines are worth trying.

Part of the problem is finding the stuff.  There are four pillars to Greek wine Assyriko, Moscofilero, Agioritiko, and Xinomaro.  The other problem of course is being able to pronounce these names.  I wish to try each of these varietals.  However, after over 200 miles driven during three weekends I’ve only found the first two, and those are the whites.  Don’t believe wine stores when they say they stock something on there website, you drive 40 miles only to be told we can get it, but we’d have to order it, and you find yourself taking home a bottle of Yellow Tail.

image_3563080_fullMy Assyriko was 2013 Domaine Sigalas from Santorini.  It starts with a straw yellow color, and like most whites, try as you might to get a nose, all I could get was the faint and fleeting scent of tropical fruit.  Refreshing when served cold, this medium-bodied white had an okay taste; not too bad, but I didn’t stand and cheer.  The thing I like best was the acidity, which was almost salty.  It was like you could taste the sea in each sip.  The only problem was it was fleeting and the finish left you disappointed.  The “experts” compare the Assyriko with Riesling or Chardonnay.  Absolutely not, you could oak this wine to the end of time and not have it come anywhere near the DW30 taste of Chardonnay.  I like Rieslings, especially Finger Lake Rieslings, and this wine is no Riesling.

No, what you have here is a wine that accurately and uniquely displays it’s terroir, which is the main reason I like it so much.  The flavor taught me about the wine. You can TASTE Santorini and the Aegean Sea in every sip folks, and that experience is why I drink wine.  This bottle of Domaine Sigalas is unique and tells its story beautifully.

Santorini is a rock in the Aegean Sea about 100 miles southeast of Athens.  3600 years ago it was home to a thriving civilization, then the volcano blew.  The crater collapsed into the sea, leaving behind miles of cliffs with dramatic views of the watery world surrounding it.  3500 years later hotels would be built along those cliffsides, making Santorini one of the world’s most popular and expensive Honeymoon destinations.

That same eruption would cover the surrounding land with light pumice gravel, black sand, and lava rocks, which happen to be ideal for wine grapes.  The soil was almost sterile, which has prevented phylloxera from ever visiting the island, and some vines are over 400 years old.  They use  “bush-trained” vines vs trellis, planted in depressions to protect the vines from the constant winds. The vines are trained to grow in what looks like a basket or coiled rope shape to protect the grapes from the sun.  There is little water on Santorini, so the dew provides most of the moisture for the grapes.  Yields are extremely low as a result.  The sea plays its role adding the iodized flavors I enjoyed.

Why do they do it?  It’s Greek!

My son in law brought me back a bottle of Estate Argyros “Atlantis Red”  This wine is a blend of 90% Mandilaria and 10% Mavrotragano grapes.  Making a red wine on Santorini is a little Atlantislike making a ship sail on dry land, it can be done, but it takes a lot of effort.  In retrospect, I wish I had waited for a better time to sample this wine, the situation was way too chaotic to really study the Atlantis and let it speak.

The wine was bright red, thin, again there was a slight and fleeting nose.  The wine was full-bodied despite what must have been pretty thin juice from the grapes.  The Atlantis tasted full of red fruit and was very enjoyable.  Like the Assyriko, you could taste Santorini.

My experience with these two wines has been so positive Jo and I have removed Santorini from our bucket list.  We’ll be making our last trip to the Eastern Mediterranean in December, it’s just not safe there anymore.

Do try these wines if for no other reason the education and history they will impart to you.

GIA SOU ( I drink to your health)

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