Showing posts with label assyrtiko. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assyrtiko. Show all posts
First image of this post
  • Friday, May 17, 2019

Wines from Santorini Volcanic Terroir



Santorini Volcanic Terroir
In , I was invited to a media luncheon featuring the wines of Santorini, Greece. The luncheon and tasting was hosted and led by Steve Kriaris, owner of Kolonaki Group, and Elias Karkabasis, owner and Sommelier of Pane Vino Trattoria & Wine Bar in Lindsay, Ontario. The venue was VOLOS, a fine Greek restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto, and a place I realized upon arriving that I had dined here a few years ago with my wife.

Winemaking began in Santorini in 3500 BC, more than 5,000 thousand years ago. In the classic Greek era, the island was called Thera, while today is officially called Thira. The massive volcanic eruption of 1600 BC ultimately created island's caldera and shape as it is today. This explosion left behind a mixture of volcanic ash, pumice stone and pieces of solidified lava and sand, which together make up the soil of Santorini. This soil has little to no organic matter, but is rich in essential minerals, except potassium, thus creating wines with a naturally low pH level and high acidity. All of these factors contribute to creating agricultural products with a distinct profile.

Wines grown on volcanic soils also travel well. As such, when the Italians discovered Santorini in 1200 AD, they began trading wines from the island in amphoras. The wine that was traded the most was the delectably sweet Vinsanto dessert wine and it was exported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. It was also sent back home to the Pope in Italy - a practice that still occurs today as The Pope receives the oldest and some of the finest Vinsanto directly from Santorini.

Most of the wine production on Santorini consists of white wines and dessert wines. Assyrtiko is the main white grape grown as it thrives in its birthplace, the volcanic island of Santorini. According to appellation rules, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini white wines must contain a minimum of 75% Assyrtiko. Most often, it is produced as a single varietal wine, but can also contain the varietals Athiri and Aidani. Nykteri wines are also made with Assyrtiko and aged for at least three months is oak barrels. Vinsanto wines are naturally sweet dessert wines made from sun-dried grapes, must contain at least 51% Assyrtiko and be aged for at least 24 months in oak barrels, allowing the wine to develop additional complexities. PDO Santorini wines have great ageing potential due to their unique characteristics that stem from their volcanic origin, as well as their naturally high acidity and minerality.

All of the wines we tasted during the luncheon were from the Union of Santorini Cooperatives, also known as SantoWines. This co-operative was founded in 1947 and today it is the largest winery on the island, representing more than 1,200 active growers of grapes and other agricultural products. SantoWines is committed to safeguarding local traditional cultivations, producing high quality PDO Santorini wines, tomatoes, and fava, as well as promoting sustainable agriculture development.

In addition to the fine wines from Santorini, there were also a couple of other food items from this small and rich volcanic island. Santorini fava beans are scientifically known as "Lathyrus Clymenum L." and have been grown exclusively on the island for more than 3,500 years. These fava beans are considered a superfood as they have amazing nutritional value and contain more than 20% plant-based protein. Traditionally dried and aged under the sun, this legume has a rich, velvety texture and an earthy, slightly sweet taste.

Fava spread

Tomataki dip (top left) with Saganaki

Santorini tomatoes, commonly known as tomataki, are one-of-a-kind as they are dry-farmed on volcanic soils. They have thick skins with a ruffled shape, a concentrated full-body and a naturally sweet taste. Tomataki also have more vitamin C than regular tomatoes and more lycopene (antioxidant) than any other fruit or vegetable. Tomataki also makes a unique tomato paste, which we got to enjoy during lunch. It has a distinctive dark red colour, velvety texture, and a sweet and slightly minerally taste that was great for dipping with bread.

The wines, as well as the unique Santorini food items can all be purchased through Kolonaki Group. You can also purchase these wines at the LCBO Greece Destination outlet at 200 Danforth Avenue (Toronto), while the first Assyrtiko in the list below is widely available across Ontario.

Thank you Kolonaki Group for the invitation and the opportunity to try these delicious Santorini foods and wines. Lunch was delicious and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lamb dish paired beautifully with these white wines. Wine reviews of these delicious wines are provided below and I trust that you will enjoy them as much as I dd. Opa!

Exohico (phyllo pastry and braised lamb) with Santo Grand Reserve Assyrtiko

Tasting Notes:

SANTO SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#459032) (XD) - $23.30
Medium+ intensity nose is clean with citrus, herbs and minerality with hints of saline. It is medium+ bodied and concentrated on the minerally-textured palate with nicely balanced aromas replays on the flavour profile. It is structured with vibrant acids, and has a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (89 pts)Santo Nykteri 2017 (90 pts)


SANTO NYKTERI 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (XD) - $33.95
A blend of 75% Assrytiko, 15% Athiri, and 10% Aidani that was harvested at night to keep freshness. Spent 3 months in oak barrels. This is ripe with roasted pineapple, stone fruit, ripe apple, pear, citrus, and melon, with subtle oak influence. All of which comes through on the vibrant palate with lively acids. Clean, elegant and nicely balanced with excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

SANTO GRANDE RESERVE ASSYRTIKO 2016 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#814186) (XD) - $57.95
This Assyrtiko spent 1 year in French oak barrels. The medium-high intensity nose has a subtle oak influence with Meyer lemon citrus, baked apple, butter, and stone fruit aromas and flavours. It is medium-full bodied and structured with vanilla notes appearing on the palate. There is a nice mineral texture to go along with juicy acids. Long on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Santo Grande Reserve Assyrtiko 2016 (91 pts)Santo Vinsanto 2011 (89 pts)

SANTO VINSANTO 2011 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#654722) (S) (500 mL) - $67.95
Sun-dried 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani grapes that spent 3 years in oak barrels. Deep orange-red-brown colour. Offers complex aromas of sweet spice, golden raisin, fig, dates, plum, honeyed, brown sugar and hints of hazelnut. Full-bodied with more raisin, fig, and sweet plum notes on the palate, with very good acidity and flavours lingering on the long finish. Score: 89 pts


First image of this post
  • Sunday, March 17, 2019

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (Greece) - Wine Review

wine review is a delicious white wine from the volcanic soils of Santorini, Greece - more on this coming soon.

It is produced by the Union of Santorini Cooperatives, SantoWines that was founded in 1947. Today, it consists of the largest organization of the island representing 1,200 cultivators with the goal of producing quality products (wine and other products) while also safeguarding the local traditional cultivations.

The grapes for this lovely white wine come from the villages of Pyrgos & Imerovigli, on the island of Santorini, at an altitude of up to 400 metres, and vine age ranging from 20 to 60 years old. It was vinified using the classic white wine method - destemmed, juice has skin contact for several hours, and finally fermented and raised completely in stainless steel tanks.

The 2017 vintage of this lovely white wine celebrates 50 years of Santo Wines. It is a General List product at the LCBO and is readily available across Ontario - click on the 6-digit product code below to find a location near you.

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

SANTO SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#459032) (XD) - $23.30
Clean, medium-high aromatics offering lemon and lime citrus, herbs, and a fine saline minerality. The rich, medium-full bodied palate is dense, structured, and even a bit chewy, with nice aroma replays of lemon citrus, herbs, and yellow fruit backed by lovely saline mineral flavours. Nicely textured with bracing acidity. Fine mineral and lemon citrus notes linger on the long finish. Score: 89 pts


First image of this post
  • Friday, November 17, 2017

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2017 Review

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2017
On , I attended the 23rd annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that was held in the North building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This event always features many wines from all over the world, as well as various gourmet food items and premium spirits and other cocktails. This event will also appeal to beer lovers as there seemed to be as many beer booths as wine booths.

This year, however, the event did seem smaller than usual, with fewer wine booths and even fewer food options. As a result, the event did feel more spacious. It also seemed like there were fewer attendees on the VIP Preview Evening than previous years.

If you are heading there this weekend (the Expo runs from Friday to Sunday), here were some of my favourite booths that you should also make a point to visit, as well as my favourite wines of the night.


Wines of Germany

Wines of Germany:
  • FRITZ WILLI FRIEDRICH-WILHELM-GYMNASIUM RIESLING FEINHERB 2015 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#523894) (M) - $20.95  89 pts
  • A. CHRISTMANN REITERPFAD-HOFSTUCK GG RIESLING 2016 - Pfalz, Germany (XD) - $72.88  92 pts
  • SCHLOSS LIESER PIESPORTER GOLDTROPFCHEN RIESLING AUSLESE 2016 - Mosel, Germany (S) - $58.82  92 pts
Fritz Willi Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Riesling Feinherb 2015 (89 pts)A. Christmann Reiterpfad-Hofstuck GG Riesling 2016 (92 pts)

Schloss Lieser Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Auslese 2016 (92 pts)




Kolonaki Group

Kolonaki Group featuring Wines of Greece:
  • ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2016 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $25.95  90 pts
  • KIR YIANNI DIAPOROS SINGLE VINEYARD XINOMAVRO 2013 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (XD) - $50  92 pts
Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2016 (90 pts)Kir Yianni Diaporos Single Vineyard Xinomavro 2013 (92 pts)




Wines of South Africa

  • BOSCHENDAL 1685 CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#367698) (XD) - $15.45  88 pts
Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)




Foods & Wines from Spain

  • VIÑA OLABARRI GRAN RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#329102) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts
  • RAMIREZ DE LA PISCINA RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (XD) - $26  90 pts
Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva 2007 (90 pts)Ramirez de la Piscina Reserva 2013 (90 pts)
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  89+ pts
  • SACRED HILL PINOT NOIR 2014 - Marlborough, New Zealand (#277665) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts
Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (89+ pts)Sacred Hill Pinot Noir 2014 (88 pts)




Vines Magazine:
  • TWO SISTERS CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48  90 pts
Two Sisters Cabernet Franc 2013 (90 pts)




Other interesting items I came across at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo:

chocoMe gourmet chocolate

Crazy Uncle Hard Root Beer + new X-Hard Root Beer

Maple Fluff Cotton Candy


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Taste of Greece - Top Greek Wines, May 2016

On , I was very pleased to attend the Taste of Greece grand wine tasting held at the Royal Ontario Museum, where nearly 50 of Greece's most popular wineries poured well over 200 wines. I had the pleasure of tasting many delicious wines at this tasting, and many offered very good QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio).


I attended the media session just after lunch, and the place was quite busy. However, since I was still working my around the room, I ended up staying for the consumer portion of the tasting that began at 2 p.m. As people filed in, the atmosphere in the room went up a few notches with a live band performing traditional Greek music. The light appetizer service prepared by Daniel et Daniel also livened the place up, in addition to the many delightful Greek wines.

Braised Lamb Shank with Roasted Tomato, Spinach, and Feta OrzoCrab Claw with Jumbo Shrimp

Overall, I was quite impressed with the Greek wines (not unexpected, I've been a fan for many years), but was surprised by the sheer number of quality wines produced by the Greeks, one of the oldest wine regions in the world. It's too bad we don't see more Greek wines coming through the LCBO (including VINTAGES) as there are a lot of good value wines that I believe LCBO customers would enjoy.

The names of many of the local Greek grape varietals may be difficult to pronounce, but it's what's inside the bottle that counts. My favourites Greek varietals are still Xinomavro [Ksee-no'-ma-vro], Assyrtiko [A-seer'-tee-ko], and Agioritiko [Ah-yor-yee'-ti-ko]. However, one grape I discovered at this tasting is a very floral, aromatic white wine grape called Savatiano [Sa-va-tya-no'].

A step in the right direction is headed by the LCBO with their "Products of the World" specialty boutique program within existing LCBO locations where customers can find many wines and spirits from a specific region. In May 2015, "Destination Greece" was the first of such boutiques to launch and is located at 200 Danforth Avenue. At this location, you can find nearly 100 Greek wines and spirits, more than anywhere else in Ontario. Quite a few of the wines tasted at Taste of Greece are available at the LCBO location on Danforth.

Destination Greece at LCBODestination Greece at LCBO

Here are some of my favourites from the Greek tasting, many which of you should be able to find at the LCBO outlet on Danforth. Alternatively, you can also contact the Agent for if you're interested in purchasing a case or more.

Ahead of the big event on Sunday, I was invited to a private tasting of Greek wines at the Vintage Conservatory on night and had the pleasure of meeting some of the men (and women) behind some very fine Greek wines. Among those in attendance was Dr. Yannis Voyiatzis, Oenologist, Head of Oenology and Viticulture Department and the winemaker behind the Boutari 1879 Legacy wine. In talking about this wine, Dr. Voyiatzis mentioned that the estate has wines from the 60's and 70's vintage and are still drinking well.

Photo Credit: Zis Parras, Kolonaki Group

Sunday Tasting Notes:

PAPAGIANNAKOS SAVATIANO OLD VINES 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (XD) - $15.60
From 60-year-old vines of the indigenous varietal Savatiano, this has explosive aromas in the glass that are very floral in nature, with hints of pear, anise, lees, and ripe fruits. It's light-to-mid weighted with citrus and floral flavours with a streak of mineral. It's very fresh and finishes off with a long, citrusy note. Contact Majestic Wine Cellars for availability. Score: 90 pts

Papagiannakos Savatiano Old Vines 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (90 pts)Alpha Estate Red 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (91 pts)

ALPHA ESTATE RED 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (#092361) (XD) - $32
This Syrah/Xinomavro/Merlot blend (60/20/20), some of which is old vines has a lovely nose of purple fruits, flowers, sweet spices and black pepper. The medium-firm tannins are nicely integrated on the full bodied palate. Nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Contact Eurovintage Wines & Spirits for availability. Score: 91 pts

DOMAINE GLINAVOS DRYADES 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (XD) - $22
A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Vlachiko/Bekari from 30-year-old vines that has a medium-high intensity nose consisting of floral, blackberry and hints of graphite and iron. Refined with integrated tannins and complex aroma replays, it also has juicy acids and a long, smooth finish. Contact IntraVino for availability. Score: 90 pts

Domaine Glinavos Dryades 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (90 pts)Papaioannou Microclima 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (91 pts)

PAPAIOANNOU MICROCLIMA 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (XD) - $75
Made with Agiorgitiko, this has a lovely mature nose of flowers, sweet spices and clove. The medium-full bodied offers pleasing aroma replays, with refined tannins and balanced acidity. Excellent length on the finish. Still has quite a few years of life remaining. Contact Kolonaki Group for availability. Score: 91 pts

ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $22.95 From 60-120 year old vines, this is a mineral-driven wine with lime and stone aromas. The medium+ bodied palate offers more mineral and lime flavours joined by some saline notes. Tightly wound with vibrant acids and chalky texture. Long finishing. Let this one sit for a couple of years and enjoy until 2026. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (90 pts)Argyros Vinsanto 4 Years 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (92 pts)

ARGYROS VINSANTO 4 YEARS 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#189778) (S) (500 mL) - $44.95
Matured in barrel for 4 years. Gorgeous, highly aromatic and sweet nose of caramel, peach and honey notes that follow through on the full-bodied, chalky textured palate. It has bright acids to keep things fresh and keep the very sweet wine from being cloying. Well-balanced and finishing long. Blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. Available at Destination Greece LCBO location. Score: 92 pts


Friday Tasting Notes:

BOUTARI 1879 LEGACY 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#675081) (XD) - $50
This single vineyard wine is 100% Xinomavro and has medium-to-high intensity aromas that are elegant and refined with pleasing notes of cherry, floral, brambly and some barnyard. Very nice aroma replays on the palate with some sweet spice notes emerging with air. It is a full-bodied, powerful wine with a rich structure and dense tannins that can age easily 10-15 years. Excellent length on the finish. Drink or hold. Available via ShopGreekWine.com. Score: 91 pts

Boutari 1879 Legacy 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (91 pts)Cavino Domain Mega Spileo Grand Cave Red 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (90 pts)

CAVINO DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE RED 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $30
Lovely, complex nose of dried herbs, flowers, black cherry, blackberry and oak vanilla that is medium-to-high intensity. Aroma replays echo on the medium bodied palate. It is well-balanced with very good acidity and the finish length is excellent. With medium-to-firm tannins, this can be enjoyed now or over the next 5-6 years. Blend of 60% Mavrodafne and 40% Mavro Kalavritino. Slated to be in VINTAGES later this year. Score: 90 pts


First image of this post
  • Sunday, May 17, 2015

Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2014 (Greece) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is from Estate Argyros and follows a family tradition dating back to 1903. The grapes for this wine were cultivated from a private vineyard that is 50-60 years old and located in Episkopi Gonia, in the central part of the island of Santorini.

This wine will be available in LCBO VINTAGES on June 13th.

ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2014 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $21.95

Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2014 from PDO Santorini, Greece (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

100% Assyrtiko. Synthetic cork. Intriguing combination of minerals, fresh sea water and lemon on the nose. The palate is medium bodied and dry, with bracing acidity and an oily texture. Thirst quenching salty mineral and lemon citrus flavours in the glass. Excellent length on the finish. Will be enjoyed with homemade Halibut and chips. Recommended. Score: 90 pts


Blog Archive

Posts by Tag

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget




  

Followers

Lists

OnToplist.com
BOTW Blogs - Vintages Wine Picks and Reviews
My Zimbio
Blogarama - Drinks & Beverages Blogs
Top Wine Sites
Wine blog
RSSChomp Blog Directory