Santorini is Greece's Grand Cru, a place that consistently produces highly distinctive, possibly inimitable, fine wines. The magic comes from a combination of the Assyrtiko grape variety and the island's volcanic soils. In these soils Phylloxera cannot survive, and so Santorini is home to many centuries-old, ungrafted vines whose root systems run deep. Trained on the ground in a basket shape to protect them from the wind, these vines yield Assyrtiko which is unmatched in its intensity, power, finesse and longevity.
We have just added a whole host of new wines from Santorini's top names, many in quite small quantities. You can see them all here. There is plenty of material for a mixed case (or two), and there is no better way to get to know the finest white wines of Greece. Here's a quick lowdown on the major producers we now list:
We have long championed Hatzidakis, who was a pioneering, artisan winemaker. His daughter is carrying on his work, and the wines remain outstanding, handcrafted examples. We have Familia, Nykteri, Cuvée 15 and Skiatli, which are all Assyrtiko in different guises, as well as some red Mavrotragano and 2004 VinSanto (Santorini's intense, everlasting dessert wine).
Argyros have recently reorganised their range and are even more quality-focused than ever. The Atlantis is a very good, reasonably priced introduction to Santorini Assyrtiko, the Estate Assyrtiko is wonderful for the money, and the top wines, Monsignori and Evdemon, are world-class from very old vine fruit. Argyros is also the best producer of VinSanto, and now makes a First Release and Late Release version, both of which are stunning.
Paris Sigalas' wines are some of the best-known in Greece, and with good reason. The basic Santorini is a benchmark example, and there is also a barrel version which adds the richness of oak to the intensity and freshness of Assyrtiko. Finally we have a little Kavalieros, a single vineyard wine of astonishing depth.
And if that isn't enough, there are wines from Volcanic Slopes Vineyards, Gavalas and Santo to make up the mix.
I feel confident in saying that you won't find a bigger or better selection of the wines of this great region in the UK. Happy exploring...
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