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The island of Santorini is one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the world. The island is all that remains of a massive volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago that destroyed civilizations hundreds of miles away. The extremely hot, dry and windy growing conditions make it impossible to grow grapes in standard rows. Instead the vines are trained into basket shapes and the grapes are grown in the protective center of the basket. Some vines are over 200 years old and form giant baskets. The wines of Santorini are made from the Assyrtiko (a-SEER-tee-ko) grape, which has the unique ability to maintain its fresh, citrusy flavors despite the extreme conditions that would make other grapes overripe. The result is a completely unique dichotomy of flavors that combine grapefruit and red apples with notes of wet chalk. The mouthfeel is rich, but finishes with crisp minerality that makes it the perfect pairing for shellfish.
"Given the historically high interest in 'natural' products of all types, it's no surprise that wines made with lower than normal levels of sulphites would begin to develop a following. This is especially true in France, where a handful of talented young winemakers are producing some of the most exciting wines in their appellations by taking a 'non-intervention' approach to winemaking. It's a high stakes gamble that requires enormous attention to detail, along with a fresh approach to traditional cellar practices. One of the acknowledged leaders of the movement is Thierry Allemand of Cornas, whose 'Cuvée Spécial' Cornas is thought to be the benchmark example of Northern Rhône Syrah. Allemand has kindly shared his winemaking ideas with us over the years, encouraging us to try these techniques with our Syrah. We have recognized his role by naming the resulting wine 'Cuvée d'Honneur'. In 2005, our Cuvée d'Honneur Syrah took a dramatic step forward in both complexity and intensity. The production remains small, by necessity -- less than 10 barrels. The aroma is a striking combination of multiple spices, with earthy tones of bacon fat and leather. The real charm, though, is the underlying fruit. Big, grapey and supple, this wine is a textbook example of the heights reachable with old world technique and new world fruit. We bottled 250 cases.
Wine & Spirits
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