Santorini is a volcanic island south of Greece part of which that is thought to have been formed as recently as 1640 BC as a result of the same cataclysmic volcanic eruption that destroyed Minoan culture on the island of Crete. This is noteworthy, wine-wise, because the high levels of post-eruption sulfur found everywhere here almost ensure that ambient yeast fermentations will not succeed. As well, the low levels of potassium in the volcanic soil ensures that there is no issue with phylloxera on the island. The dominant grape here is Assyrtiko which makes steely vibrant whites with the potential to age. The traditional viticultural methods are ungrafted vines that tend to be planted in small, sheltered hollows and that get woven into a living basket or birds nest shape as the vines mature. This is to protect the grapes being grown inside the nest from a brisk and stinging wind carrying sand and salt that blows almost constantly over the island. Every seventy to eighty years, the basket is lopped off the vine's base and it starts to grow again on the same roots. It has been estimated that some of the Assyrtiko vine roots that have been regenerated like this may be several centuries old and possibly the oldest still-producing wine vines in the world.
This unique wine is produced on the island of Santorini. The vines are planted on a 15-degree slope facing East and Southeast on transferred pumice stone soil. The wine is made from the Assyrtiko grape and is light and aromatic. Only free run must is used, which is then fermented for approximately days at 15C. The resulting wine is almost white in color, bone-dry, with strong character, eliciting considerable structure, with crisp acidity, distinctive minerality and delicate honeysuckle aromas.
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