A Rut-Buster White Wine from Greece – Assyrtiko

The beginning of school is around the corner, and sadly, summer is winding down.  Isn’t it time to break out of the Chardonnay, Blanc, and Pinot Grigio rut? Are you dreaming of something other than the staycation?  How about a virtual trip to Greece?  A refreshingly different wine from the Greek Island of SantoriniAssyrtiko will take you there!

Let’s start with how to pronounce it – A seer’ tee ko (click on the link to hear pronunciation).  According to All About Greek Wine.com:

On the breathtaking island of Santorini, the predominant grape is Assyrtiko which produces superb dry and dessert Appellation wines. After the devastating volcanic explosion, circa 1650 BC, the island was covered with volcanic ash, lava and pumice stone. This catastrophe created the foundation for perfect soil conditions which now help produce the very distinctive wines of Santorini.

The vines are cultivated in low basket shaped crowns, close to the ground for protection from the strong winds.  Coming off the sea, the nocturnal fog brings needed water to the vines during the hot summer nights and together with the refreshing northerly winds provide excellent growing conditions for the creation of the superb Santorini wines.

The white wines from Santorini are bone-dry with a distinct aroma of citrus combined with hints of smoke and minerals from the volcanic soil. The dessert wines from Santorini are called “Vinsanto,” a derivative of the name Santorini.Vinsanto can be naturally sweet or fortified and must be barrel-aged for a minimum of two years. It is distinguished by its superb velvety palate with aromas of crème brûlée, chocolate and dried apricots.

The Assyrtiko grape also known to maintain its acidity even if they become very ripe.  Therefore, wine made from the grape tends to be food friendly.

I tried Greek wine for the first time last night.  It was the 2009 Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini, reputed to be one of the best examples of Assyrtiko.  My tasting notes follow:

Sigalas Assyrtiko 2009 Santorini

Tasting Notes:

Light yellow straw color with a green tinge with lemon, tart apple, anise aromas. On the palate it was creamy, and medium bodied with great structure. Fruit, acidity and minerals are very nicely balanced – with tart apple, lemon, and mineral flavors. Medium finish. Excellent! (91 pts) – $21

Food Pairing Recommendation(s)

As always seems to be the case, wines from a region pair so well with foods from the region.  As Santorini is an island, you know there’s plenty of fresh seafood, and Assyrtiko is an excellent match all manner of fish and shellfish.  It would also pair nicely with a classic Greek Salad, or other summer fare such as a tomato salad with olives and Feta.  It paired very nicely with a Peppery Pasta with Arugula and Shrimp I made.  Even though this was dry wine, the fruitiness of the wine was a nice counterpoint to the pepperiness of the arugula, while the creaminess, and acidity of the wine had me eager for another forkful of pasta.

Have a glass while you peruse the Santorini Sublime post below, and dream big vacation dreams!