Like Odysseus, we return to Greece after travels around other wine regions. And back to our old comrade Assyrtiko, the white grape grown on Santorini. The more I read about this island and its wines the more I’m fascinated by what the vineyard owners have to do in a difficult environment. The vines are low-trained like nests to protect the grapes from the winds; the vine is cut back to the root stock after 75 years and a new graft made (this makes some of the roots hundreds of years old therefore able to find water); the soil is volcanic and limestone hence the wines’ minerality; no phylloxera louse took hold here.
The wine we had on Sunday, Thalassatis, was from three vineyards on the island. In ancient times, the wine was mixed with sea water and although now discontinued that salt/mineral quality is still evident – rather like manzanilla sherry. Limpid (I love that word), light green in colour with medium alcohol, this wine smelt of greengage fruit but it wasn’t a strong nose. The flavours were both lemony acidity and rich with pronounced minerality so we had the sense of it being bone-dry but rich – a lovely combination. It’s recommended to be decanted for at least an hour but, as we’ve noted before, this is a day two white wine – the minerality softens to reveal rich, powerful flavours of stone fruits.
Not quite as fresh as the Gaia wild ferment but still a lovely wine.
[Richard: from the excellent Greek deli, near New Street station, about £18. Classy wine which I’d buy again.]