Santorini is the epicentre of quality wine production in Cyclades. A volcanic island which was born out of the ashes of a major volcanic eruption. Santorini’s heart - stopping beauty may be hard to put into words, yet drinking a chilled glass of Assyrtiko while watching the most amazing sunset at the northernmost tip of the island in Oia can be a conquest of the ultimate pleasure. The high quality wines of the island is a result of a synthesis of crucial factors.
First of all the island hides a unique viticultural treasure of ungrafted ancients vines (some being 400 years old) since phylloxera has never affected the island. In addition a mosaic of dry and poor volcanic soils based on sand. pumice and bassalt result to extremely low yields. Santorini’s vines have a unique basket shaped training system called ‘’kouloura’’, in which grapes grow inside and protects them from the strong winds and shades them from the extreme sunlight and heat. Least but not last the most important variety of the island is Assyrtiko which has the ability to yield top quality wines retaining great acidity (can reach ph 2.8 and 7 grams of tartaric acid) intense mineral character, density and complexity. All these characteristics are responsible of one of the most profound terroirs and wines in the world.
Assyrtiko is the ‘prima donna’ of the island, producing both dry and sweet wines, and accounting for 65% to 70% of the total 1.100 hectares of plantings. Gazing the old, ungrafted, basket-trained vines, some of them sitting on 400 year-old roots, it feels like Assyrtiko vines were grown in Santorini forever. Athiri and Aidani are producing lighter and more fragrant white wines often blended with Assyrtiko. Mandilaria and Mavrotragano are the red varieties that can be found here with the later producing dense, top class reds with winemakers still trying to understand its potential. A huge chapter in Santorini’s winemaking scene is the production of sweet wines; white grapes only, sundried, co-vinified and aged for a long period of time in oak, resulting to a luscious sweet and complex wine balanced by great levels of acidity.