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The Assyrtiko Grape


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About Assyrtiko

(Synonyms: Assirtico, Assyrtico, Asyrtiko

Background

Map showing Santorini

Assyrtiko is a white-wine grape native to the small Greek island best known as Santorini (though now officially named Thera). It is a high-acid wine, and thus typically ages well. Its characteristic tastes are citrus (notably lemon) and minerality.

It is usually made unoaked, but a few vintners are now experimenting with oaked versions; as is often the case with oaking, the results are somewhat controversial.

Owing to its rapid modern recognition as one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes, Assyrtiko is now also being grown elsewhere than Santorini—not only around Greece, but even in Australia—but the Santorini bottlings are still widely considered the best.

Monovarietal Assyrtiko bottlings are not rare, but at least as common are blends where predominant Assyrtiko is cut with some other Greek whites, Athiri and sometimes Aidani being the most common (but Santorini, small as it is, is host to between two and three dozen other indigineous white-wine grapes). Blend percentages can range from 95% Assyrtiko down to as little as 75%: winemakers’ opinions on how best to blend are personal and various.

View of Santorini showing it as a sea-flooded volcano crater.

Note: some Santorinis are called “Nikteri” (or some variant spelling); that typically indicates a wine made from grapes left to hang on the vine a few days longer, and with some oak influence.

Factoid: Santorini was blown apart by a gigantic volcanic explosion about 3,600 years ago; it is often considered to be the source of the Atlantis legends. (See the image at the right: the island is clearly part of the rim of a now-sea-flooded volcano.)

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Some Descriptions of Assyrtiko Wines

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Some Assyrtikos to Try

(About this list.)

Assyrtiko has so shot up in popularity in recent years that it has become hard to find decent samples priced under our arbitrary $20 upper limit, and it is even harder to find monovarietal bottlings of quality in that price range. We have listed here those Assyrtiko-based wines that seemed, from critical reviews, to be of acceptable quality to represent the grape yet of reasonable price and availability; but, to make any kind of list, we had to include some blends. As noted above, blends with Athiri and, often, Aidani as well are common on Santorini, and should still be good representatives of the island's output.


Domaine Papagiannakos Assyrtiko
(100% Assyrtiko.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Santo Wines Santorini Assyrtiko
(100% Assyrtiko. Don’t confuse this with their sweet Vinsanto bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Domaine Sigalas “AA”
(Assyrtiko blended with 25% Athiri, hence the wine’s name.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Argyros “Atlantis” White
(A blend: 90% Assyrtiko; 5% Athiri; 5% Aidani; sometimes traces of other Santorini white grapes.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Gai’a “Assyrtiko by Gaia” “Wild Ferment” Assyrtiko.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Saturday, 18 January 2020, at 1:24 am Pacific Time.