A quick grape lesson for wines from Santorini:
The red varieties are mainly used to make sweet wines, as mentioned earlier. The two red grapes of the island are Mavrotragano, a dark red grape with infinite tannins and Mandelari, a true blending grape.
As you can see, the grapes are easily memorized. Once you learn about the grape, Assyrtiko, the rest is easy.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sample 42 wines from Santorini and found that the whites showed an island minerality that was pure, crisp and refreshing, much like Chablis. On the other spectrum, the dessert wines of Santorini,Vinsanto, were all well made with just enough residual sugar to make them interesting. My favorite Vinsanto was from Estate Argyros, a 1990, made with a blend of Assyrtiko, Athiti and Aidani. Othr Vinsantos that were commendable were from Gaia, Gavalas winery, Hatzidakas, Artemis Karamolegos, Koutsoyannopoulos Winery, Canava Roussos, Santo Wines and Domaine Sigalas.
The whites, all made with Assyrtiko, were all pleasant and a reminder that there are other choices for summer wine favorites. Maybe its time to forget New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs this summer and move the Assyrtiko grape of Santorini. These wines are affordable ($13-$20) and convincing.
My favorites include Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko, Athiri 2014, Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment 2014, Estate Argyros Assyrtiko 2014 and Santo Wines Sparkling 2014.
The tag line for the tasting was “Volcanic Terroiristas UNITE!
To learn more about the Wines from Santorini, visit: www.winesfromsantorini.com