Showing posts with label santorini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label santorini. Show all posts
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  • 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


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  • 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


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  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Boutari Wine Tasting and Dinner at ONE Restaurant

Boutari Wine Tasting & Dinner at ONE Restaurant
In mid-October, I was invited to a very special and exclusive tasting of the fine wines from the Boutari portfolio. These Greek wines were paired with gourmet fare at Mark McEwan's ONE Restaurant in Yorkville, downtown Toronto.

The guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Yannis Voyatzis, CEO & General Manager at Boutari, and one of the leading Oenologists in Greece. He was joined by Christina Boutari, a 5th generation member of the Boutari family who kicked off the evening with an overview and some history about the winery.

The Boutari Company was established in 1879 by Ioannis Boutaris and currently owns many wineries and vineyards throughout Greece (and Europe). The 6 wineries owned by the company in Greece are situated in the country's most important winemaking regions - the AOCs of Naoussa, Goumenissa, Crete, Santorini, Mantinia, and Attica.

Heirloom Carrot Salad paired with MoschofileroChristina Boutari and Dr. Yannis Voyatzis

Dr. Voyatzis took us through all 8 wines over the course of the evening as they were paired with the 4-course meal that was crafted specially for this intimate event. The first course was an Heirloom Carrot Salad with pomegranate yoghurt, avocado, orange, pistachios, raisin chutney and cilantro vinaigrette which was paired with a pair of white wines. Both wines were made with 100% Moschofilero - a rose/grey coloured grape that is larger than Gewürztraminer. Most fascinating was the fact that each wine was made in a completely different style, but each paired quite well with the salad. The Moschofilero is quite versatile in that it can be served as a sipper or with lighter fare such as salads, while the Oropedio is more of a food wine and really accentuated the citrus flavours in the salad. Full tasting notes of these and other wines tasted on this night are provided below.

The second course was specially crafted for me because I don't eat octopus. Instead, I enjoyed a pair of falafels on a bed of risotto and topped with greens and a side of green mint chutney. It was paired with two wines that were quite different from each other - the light, ripe-fruited Agioritiko and the big, full-bodied Skalani that offered more floral notes. In this case, the Agioritiko was the better pairing with the falafel as it wasn't too heavy and offered freshness to balance out the chickpea-based falafel. For me, the Skalani is a wine I would have on its own or pair it with the main course on this night.

Falafel with Agioritiko and Boutari SkalaniLamb Chops with Xinomavro

Lamb chops with sides of tzatziki, herb roasted potatoes, and a Santorini salad that was topped with a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Food-wise, this was my highlight of the night! Lamb with a big, Greek red wine is a match made in heaven. What made this course even more special were the wines we paired the lamb with - the 2010 Grande Reserve Xinomavro which has been a favourite of mine a few years now, the 1879 Legacy 2007 which is an excellent wine, and last but definitely not the least, we had the opportunity to taste a 1992 Grande Reserve Xinomavro. All three wines were fabulous, with the 2010 G.R. Xinomavro and the Legacy pairing better with the lamb as this protein requires tannins for a balanced experienced. Furthermore, the Skalani tasted in the second course also paired really with the lamb. As for the 1992 G.R. Xinomavro, this is a great, mature wine to sip and enjoy on its own as it's not often one gets to taste a wine that's more than 20 years old.

Greek Vinsanto with Baklava and Halva

For dessert, we paired a Vinsanto that had some age on it with traditional Greek desserts baklava and halva made by Serano Bakery. Historical evidence suggests that Vinsanto's place of origin is Santorini, where late-harvested grapes are dried in the sun, otherwise known as the passito style. These fine, rich desserts were very sweet and paired beautifully with a 2008 Vinsanto that was also very sweet, but balanced by good acidity and has many years of enjoyment remaining.

Thank you to Kolonaki Group, Dr. Yiannis Voyatzis, Christina Boutari, and the staff at ONE Restaurant for your gracious hospitality. It was a very enjoyable and memorable evening!

Wine reviews of each wine tasted on this night are provided below. Unless otherwise noted, all of these wines can be found at the Destination Greece Specialty LCBO store at 200 Danforth Avenue. Moreover, some of these wines can also be found at other regular LCBO outlets - click on the wine's six-digit product code for more info. You can also contact the Agent to Kolonaki Group for more information or shop the Boutari collection online at ShopGreekWine.com.

Tasting Notes:

BOUTARI MOSCHOFILERO 2015 - PDO Mantinia, Greece (#172387) (D) - $13.10
Medium+ intensity aromatics offers fresh lemon, herbs, tropical fruits and floral aromas. The palate is medium-bodied and fleshy with crisp, juicy acids. Herbally and lemon pith flavours. The finish length is very good. Really appreciated this being served at the right temperature. Good for the patio or with salads. Score: 88 pts

Boutari Moschofilero 2015 (88 pts)Boutari Oropedio 2014 (88+ pts)

BOUTARI OROPEDIO 2014 - PDO Mantinia, Greece (XD) - $17.95
100% Moschofilero from oropedio (meaning "high plateau"), at 650 metres, altitude, and partially barrel-fermented, this has a medium-intensity nose featuring herbally, fennel, and mild oak nuances. It's also has some pine aromas, reminding me of a Retsina. The medium-bodied palate is dry and nicely textured, with softened acids due to oak, and pithy flavours. Medium-long finish. The 2016 vintage of this wine arrives on our shores this April. Score: 88+ pts

BOUTARI AGIORGITIKO 2015 - PDO Nemea, Greece (#172148) (XD) - $13.10
Aromas of medium+ intensity and offering ripe red fruits, earthy, cherry, red licorice, plum and some clove - quite complex. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with cherry, cough medicine, subtle oak spice, clove and cinnamon flavours. Lightly tannic with fresh, juicy acids. Medium finish length. Score: 88 pts

Boutari Agiorgitiko 2015 (88 pts)Boutari Skalani 2011 (91 pts)

BOUTARI SKALANI 2011 - PGI Heraklion, Greece (XD) - $29.95
A 50/50 blend of Kotsifali & Syrah, this has medium-high intensity aromas that are meaty and perfumed with purple fruits and sweet oak. It's full-bodied and juicy with blackberry, violet, floral, black plum and sweet oak flavours. It has refined tannins, very good acidity and excellent length on the finish. Drinakable now, but can age another 10 years. This is really fine! Score: 91 pts

BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO 2010 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#140111) (D) - $18.95
Tasted a few times now, and on this occasion I get lovely medium-high intensity aromas of cherry, clove, sweet floral and oak spice, and hints of olive and black pepper. Olive notes become more prominent with air. Medium-full bodied with still bright acids, nice black cherry, floral, some savoury notes, and hints of dried floral & fruit. Very good finish length. Approachable now, but can age another 3-5 years. Maturing well. Score: 90+ pts

Boutari Grande Reserve Xinomavro 2010 (90+ pts)Boutari 1879 Legacy 2007 (92 pts)

BOUTARI 1879 LEGACY 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#675081) (XD) - $49.60
First tasted in May, and delighted to be tasting again. This single vineyard Xinomavro has medium-high aromatics of great complexity - floral, cherry, clove, black berry, black pepper, black olive and oak and should open up further with decanting. The palate is full-bodied and complex led by an appealing floral note. There's good concentration of fruit balanced by mouth-watering acids. Finish length is excellent. A big wine that is drinking well now, but will age for decades. Score: 92 pts

BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO 1992 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (XD) - $100
The treat of the night. This offers a medium-high intensity nose, very mature in profile with rose, cherry, dried fruit, umami, and just a touch of raisin/prune aromas. It's medium+ bodied with nice cherry-driven aroma replays. Still has very good acidity. Tannins are resolved, very smooth, velvety mouthfeel. Long finishing. Drink soon. Availability of this wonderful wine in Ontario is TBD. Score: 92 pts

Boutari Grande Reserve Xinomavro 1992 (92 pts)Boutari Vinsanto 2008 (92 pts)

BOUTARI VINSANTO 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (S) (500 mL) - $32
Made with sun-dried grapes consisting of 90% Assyrtiko and the rest mainly Aidani. This has an inviting nose of burnt caramel, sugar, and dried apricots of medium-high intensity. The palate is medium-full bodied with a grainy texture due to the wine being unfiltered. Very sweet flavours of dried apricot, honey, citrus, all-spice, Christmas cake are balanced by very good acidity. Long finish. Currently not available in Ontario. Score: 92 pts


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  • 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


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