The Greek island of Santorini, in the Aegean Sea, has been producing wines for over 3,500 years. The Santorini wine region grows extremely resistant varieties of indigenous grapes that date back to antiquity. Archeological findings in the prehistoric town of Akrotiri show that there were vineyards on the island 17 centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.
The conditions for growing grapes are excellent in Santorini, but though fertile, the land is scarce. For this reason, the yield is minuscule, and winemakers focus on producing only high-quality wines. The Assyrtiko grape covers 70 percent of the vineyards, and the remaining land produces strains of red mandelaria, akiri, and Aidani.
According to Andrew Jefford, journalist and wine critic, the Santorini Assyrtiko is the most relevant terroir wine in the world. Its taste reveals the force of a land that is both complicated and fruitful. Today, Santorini wines with protected designation of origin, enjoy a huge international prestige and have obtained significant awards in several international competitions. Read more about our food and wine recommendations.
These are some of the best vintages this heavenly island brings to the world:
WINERY: Domaine Sigalas // GRAPES: 100% assyrtiko
With a bright honey color and golden highlights, closer to the nose one perceives complex and intense aromas of citrus such as grapefruit and ripe lemons, accompanied by hints of herbs and citrus flowers. The taste is fresh, with a tight acidity and a long, intense and balanced aftertaste. It is an ideal accompaniment for fish and Greek salads with yogurt sauce.
WINERY: Canava Roussos // GRAPES: assyrtiko, athiri, aidani
Founded in 1836, Canava Roussos is the oldest and best-known winery on the island. Their wines are remarkable and have the wild taste of the land where they originate. Athiri 1995 is a sweet wine produced from handpicked grapes, which are ripened and dried in the sun for 15 days. With an intense golden color, it has the full fragrance of fruits with hints of honey and dried sage. This sweet drink with a refreshing acidity and a lingering taste of citrus is the ideal pairing for nuts, sweets, foie gras and goat cheese.
Assyrtiko de Mylos 2012
WINERY: Hatzidakis // GRAPES: 100% assyrtiko
Just outside the picturesque tourist village of Pyrgos Kallistis, the Hatzidakis Winery uses mature grapes from the appreciated Assyrtiko variety, drawn from the ancient vines of the Mylos vineyard. Assyrtiko de Mylos 2012 is bottled unfiltered and manually in quantities that never exceed 2,800 bottles per year. Yellow and with golden tones, it has intense aromas of ripe fruit. In the mouth, the taste is extraordinary and has a balanced acidity. It is an excellent companion for shellfish and mature cheeses like Parmesan or Roquefort. ■