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Sigalas Aa Assyrtiko-Athiri Santorini 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A picturesque Mediterranean nation with a rich wine culture dating back to ancient times, Greece has so much more to offer than just retsina. Between the mainland and the country’s many islands, a wealth of wine styles exists, made mostly from Greece’s plentiful indigenous varieties. After centuries of adversity after Ottoman rule, the modern wine industry took off in the late 20th century with an influx of newly trained winemakers and investments in winemaking technology.
The climate—generally hot Mediterranean—can vary a bit with latitude and elevation, and is mostly moderated by cool maritime breezes. Drought can be an issue during the long, dry summers, sometimes necessitating irrigation.
Over 300 indigenous grapes have been identified throughout Greece, and though not all of them are suitable for wine production, future decades will likely see a significant revival and refinement of many of these native varieties. Assyrtiko, the crisp, saline variety of the island of Santorini, is one of the most important and popular white varieties, alongside Roditis, Robola, Moschofilero, and Malagousia. Muscat is also widely grown for both sweet and dry wines. Prominent red varieties include full-bodied and fruity Agiorghitiko, native to Nemea; Macedonia’s savory, tannic Xinomavro; and Mavrodaphne, used commonly to produce a Port-like fortified wine in the Peloponnese.
A crisp white variety full of zippy acidity and with a striking mineral character, Assyrtiko comes from the volcanic Greek island of Santorini, but is grown increasingly wide throughout the country today. The reasons for its popularity are plentiful: it retains its acid and mineral profile in a hot climate, blends well with other grapes and can also withstand some age. Flavors often found in Assyrtiko and its blends include lemon zest, passion fruit, pineapple, flint and fennel. It is versatile when matched with food; try it with oysters, shrimp, salmon as well as grilled chicken, tomatoes and asparagus.