No IWFS Zoom tastings this month to talk about, so I’m going to write about two contrasting Greek white wines I’ve tasted both made from the Assyrtiko grape. Many exciting wines are being produced in Greece from indigenous grapes, both red and white, by independent wine makers, using careful wine making techniques, with quality at their forefront. These wines are a real discovery.
And not a word about retsina.
The Assyrtiko is a versatile grape. Its wines may be dry, but can also be vinified sweet; unoaked or oak aged; made to drink young or made to age; from 100% Assyrtiko or blended with other indigenous Greek grapes.
Both wines here are bone dry.
First, Nomas Assyrtiko, Karavitakis. I tasted the 2019, for which I paid £11.95. Now it is the 2000 vintage which is available.
This is from a family-owned producer in Crete. Their winery has modern equipment. They farm sustainably in their own vineyards and also work closely with growers from whom they buy grapes.
The wine is pale yellow in colour, fermented in stainless steel, fresh and clean, with good acid and minerality, tasting of lemon citrus and a hint of stone fruits, and a saline finish. Excellent value.
My second wine is from Santorini, where the Assyrtiko grape originated. Santorini makes wonderful fine wines: complex with aromas and flavour unlike wines anywhere else.
Such as this one: Hatzidakis Skitali, Santorini 2017.
I paid £38; it is now available at £47-£50. This is a lot of money for a wine that is not a fine white Burgundy, but in my opinion this unique wine is worth it. It has been highly rated by Jancis Robinson and by Decanter magazine.
Hatzidakis is another family-owned producer, one of the top wineries in Santorini, committed to organic farming.
This wine was fermented in stainless steel and left on the lees for 12 months, which has given weight/depth and texture, then ten months in bottle.
It is deep golden coloured. The bouquet is of flowers and citrus. Its palate is rich and intense, yet with acidity and minerality, pear flavours and a long clean saline finish. It is remarkable: big, brilliantly complex, but not overpowering.
The wine has the capacity to develop and age for several years.
Two terrific examples of wines from Greece – there are many, many more!