Santo(rini) Wines


When I came to Santorini for some quality time at the beach and a visit to the Volcano that had the biggest eruption in history (which wiped out the Minoan civilization, gave the island its crescent shape and many believe was the cause of the lost city of Atlantis), I was completely unaware that I was visiting a famous wine region. With limited time and budget, I decided to visit only one winery in the island, the most famous: Santo Wines.

In general, Santorini produces mostly white wine, and a few reds, nearly exclusively from indigenous grape varieties. Dominant among these is the white grape Assyrtiko, which is grown using ancient dry-farming methods, and which yields mineral-driven wines that have a surprisingly tannic structure for whites, often accompanied by a saline aspect thanks to the soils and the sea air in which they grow. This grape, along with two other dominant white grapes, Aidani and Athiri, are made mostly into dry white wines, with the exception of the island’s most famous wine, Vinsanto.

Vinsanto. Famous for more than 1000 years, this sweet dessert wine, made from a blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri (all local grapes to Santorini) that is aged in oak casks for at least 3 years, can be quite profound in its best incarnations, taking on rich flavours of caramel and Angostura bitters while maintaining incredible acidity. It’s interesting that only two days ago I cracked open a dessert wine from hungary that Mickey gave me, and today I’m sampling another wine made from shriveled grapes, except with a completely different taste.


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Long intro aside, with the beautiful sunset as the setting to my wine tasting, I sampled 9 wines at Santo Wines. A flight of 6 at first (3 dry white wines, 1 dry red wine, 1 semi-sweet red wine and the visanto), then I ordered an additional 3 red wines. All great wines in their own respect, each with their own personality, and this whole experience set me back only £12.20.

Absolutely ridiculous! I’m still in shock.

As for the wines:

  • SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO Dry White Wine, 100% Assyrtiko. Rich amoras of citrus fruits coupled by crisp acidity and intense mineral taste.
  • SANTORINI NYKTERI Dry White Wine, 75% Assyrtiko, 15% Athiri, 10% Aidani. It has mineral character, citrus and white flowers blossom aromas and spicy aftertaste due to the 3 month ageing in oak.
  • SANTORINI NYKTERI RESERVE Dry White Wine, 75% Assyrtiko, 15% Athiri, 10% Aidani. Complex mineral character coupled by citrus aromas on a vanilla background, due to the 12 month ageing.
  • KAMEMI Dry Red Wine, 100% Mandilaria. The ageing in oak barrels result this velvet, dark red, full body wine with aromas of mature red fruits, spices and vanilla
  • SANTO Semi Sweet Red Wine, 100% Mandilaria. Vibrant red colour, red blossom aromas with full, velvet taste and light sweet after taste.
  • SANTORINI VINSANTO Naturally Sweet Wine from sun dried grapes. 85% Assyrtiko, 15% Aidani. Aged 3 years in oak barrels, round, velvety, rich with aromas of sweet spices with a playful taste between honey and lemon.

Although I appreciate that the vinsanto is the crown jewel of Santorini, I’m not much of a dessert wine person as I stated previously so my favourite wines of tonight were the SANTORINI NYKERTI (for white) and the KAMEMI (for red). Either coincidentally or not, all the wines that were aged for longer than 3 months had too much oak dominating the taste… As a whole, I’m extremely impressed with almost all the wines in Santorini. You’ll have a hard time finding a bad wine (white especially).

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