Santorini Assyrtiko 2013 Score: 91
From “Discovering Santorini” in November 15, 2014 Wine Spectator
“Following centuries of tradition, the vines are bush-trained and planted in shallow depressions – designed to conserve precious moisture and to protect against severe winds – with vine shoots woven into round, shrubby baskets, and grapes huddled at the center. The basket also helps shield the grapes from the region’s strong sun and capture dew that sometimes descends from morning fog in the summer. Yields are correspondingly low, averaging just 1.5 to 2 tons per acre.
The vines grow like this, trained but unpruned, for decades on the seemingly sterile soil. After 50 or 60 years, the canes get cut all the way back, then are allowed to regenerate; individual root systems are thus conserved and may be up to 400 years old. These factors combine to make Santorini one of the world’s most distinctive and unique winegrowing regions.”
“… Over the past 25 years, Santorini’s Wines, once known for sweetnes and high alcohol levels, have undergone a sea change. Now recognized as Greece’s finest, the fresh, mineral-laced offerings from the island’s flagship grape, Assyrtiko, are compared to fine versions of Riesling or Chardonnay.”
“Santorini’s vineyards were shaped the same way the island’s awe-inspiring topography was – by a giant volcanic eruption about 3,600 years ago that destroyed a thriving civilization. The volcano’s crater collapsed into the sea – leaving behind miles of dramatically sheer cliffs that plunge into deep blue waters.”
“Vinsanto, the island’s luscious, creamy sweet wine, first gained fame when Santorini was under Venetian rule during the Middle Ages. Similar to Italian-style passitos, Vinsanto is made from at least 51 percent Assyrtiko grapes that are dried on mats in the sun and aged in barrels at least two years. (Santorini’s version is spelled as one word to distinguish it from Italian Vin Santo.)”
“The island also produces a small quantity of red wines of wildly varying quality-principally from Mavrotragano and Mandilaria grapes, classified as Cyclades regional wine.”
Assyrtiko 2013 gained 91 points and is often compared to Rieslings.