Wines of Santorini: A taste journey into a fascinating volcanic terroir
Yiannis Karakasis’ new book explores one of Greece’s greater wine regions that produces intriguing whites with a mouth-watering acidity and mineral characteristics but also interesting reds born in the shadow of the volcano. Words by Angela Stamatiadou
Wine writer, wine consultant and wine educator Yiannis Karakasis MW has been sharing his love for Greek wine through his blog, www.karakasis.mw, for many years now.
Not so long ago, in his e-book The Vineyards and Wines of Greece, describing the current state of Greece’s regional styles, he highlighted the rise of the Greek island wines. His most recent title, Wines of Santorini, released on the 1st of July, focuses on the vineyards of the picturesque tourist haven of the Aegean sea, home to the oldest continuously farmed vineyards in the world. 3,700 years ago Santorini endured one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. The magmatic flow that sculped the landscape creating the postcard-perfect caldera and the black and red beaches has also shaped the island’s viniculture. The soil is a mixture of basalt, volcanic ash, sand, pumice and other lava formations.
Together with the climate it forms a very distinctive terroir. Unique training systems, such as kouloura (wreath-shaped crowns, close to the ground) protect the grapes from violent winds and deflect scorching sunlight. Volcanic wines are getting much buzz around the globe. Santorini’s vineyards gained respect and acclaim from wine critics, sommeliers and oenophiles. The island’s flagship variety, Assyrtiko, acidic, with a hint of salinity, fruity, earthy, pinned its flag on the world wine map with its beautiful structure and personality.
There are many more interesting indigenous grapes to add to your wine journal though, such as Aidani, Mavrotragano, Mandilaria. You should also try Vinsanto, the island’s beloved sweet wine… As the writer points out, there were just six wine producers in 1989. Now there are 20, all listed and showcased in the book, along with some of their most interesting vintages. Browsing through the pages, one can see the ways that the market has changed over the last several decades, blending tradition and innovation and creating new styles.Once you set foot in Santorini you know that this mystical island feels like no other place on earth. Its wines have a unique energy too.
Your new favourite might be a cork’s pop away. Mark Andrew MW, who forewords the book, writes ‘’Like any great wine region, there is much to discover once you scratch beneath the surface, so it helps to have an entertaining and well-informed guide. This book is both. Through his regular visits to Santorini – tough work, but someone’s got to do it –Yiannis has become the authority on the history, grapes,
people, places and methods behind the wines, not to mention the bottles we should be buying, drinking or saving for a special occasion.
It is this deep understanding that illuminates the pages of The Wines of Santorini and will transport you and your palate to this incredible
place.’’ You can pre-order the book from Mr. Vertigo wine shop in Athens (also www.mrvertigo.wine). Also available at www. greatgreekwines.com, Avantis Estate, Domaine Sigalas, Santo Wines and other local wineries in Santorini and also in Katikies Hotels in Santorini and Mykonos.