"Assyrtico, Vinsanto and Nykteri" Wine Tasting Tip by johngayton
Wine Tasting, Santorini Island: 22 reviews and 40 photos
Assyrtico is THE Santorini grape, accounting for about four-fifths of the total grape production and strangely enough the Greek name: “Assyrtico” invokes the English; “assertive”, producing wines with a very front of palate, almost acid, fruit especially noticeable in those wines unblended taken from the first natural pressing of the grape - a perfect example of this is the “Lava White” from the Koutsogiannopolous winery (see relevant tip for details).
Santorini’s most famous wine is the controlled appellation “Vinsanto”, which must by law contain a minimum of 80% of the Assyrtico grape, and is particular in that the grapes are sun-dried for up to 15 days before being crushed and fermented. The wines are then barrel-aged for several years, sometimes as long as 6, producing a rich, sweet, honey-coloured wine which, whilst relatively low in alcohol (usually about 10%), developes a flavour as distinct as the fortified wines of Portugal, Spain and Madiera. Vinsanto is often used, both locally and further afield, as a communion wine and is also ideal chilled as a dessert wine.
The other Santorini appellation is the Nykteri wines (literally “of the night’), which once again are produced predominantly from the Assyrtico grape. These wines are unique in that the production is carried out at night, perhaps to maximise the moisture content, producing distinct fruity wines which can be either bottled fresh or barrel-aged (the Vareli being the barreled). The resulting wines are once again characterized by the acid fruitiness of the grape, the un-oaked wines having a very clean palate, though personally I kindof liked the oaked one that I tried at Gavala, the barreling adding a touch of complexity which suits my personal tastes.
Address: As above - all over the Island.
Directions: See 2nd website.
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