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Santorini Wines: Reviews and Impressions

As many of you readers know, I spent about 10 days in Greece on a press trip a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been busy working through my notes from the trip.

The primary place I visited during this trip was the tiny island of Santorini. While the name Santorini is well known as a picturesque resort, most people aren’t aware of its status as one of Greece’s most famous wine regions.

I wrote earlier in the week about the remarkable history and methods of viticulture on the island of Santorini (which if you haven’t read, I suggest breezing through before you read this article), and made some general comments about the wines.

Now it’s time to look at the wines in more detail.

I’ve never been in a position to so authoritatively offer my impressions of a wine region. In a matter of about 4 days, I visited all 10 wineries on the island, and tasted nearly all the wines they produce. I offer my notes and scores on them below, but before diving into the individual wineries and their wines, some more background on the wines of Santorini may be helpful.

As I noted earlier in the week, Santorini produces mostly white wine, and a few reds, nearly exclusively from indigenous grape varieties. Dominant among these is the white grape Assyrtiko, which is grown using ancient dry-farming methods, and which yields bracing, mineral-driven wines that have a surprisingly tannic structure for whites, often accompanied by a saline aspect thanks to the soils and the sea air in which they grow.

Assyrtiko (sometimes spelled Assyrtico, thanks to less than regular translation rules between the Greek and western alphabets) along with the two other dominant white grapes, Aidani and Athiri, are made mostly into dry white wines, with the exception of the island’s most famous wine, Vinsanto.

Vinsanto is the crown jewel of Santorini wines. Famous for more than 1000 years, this sweet dessert wine, made from a blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri that is aged in oak casks for at least 3 years, can be quite profound in its best incarnations, taking on rich flavors of caramel and Angostura bitters while maintaining incredible acidity.

The dry whites made from Assyrtiko tend to fall into one of two varieties: steel tank fermented and aged, and oak fermented and aged. Most producers make at least one of each kind of Assyrtiko. Both versions have extremely high acidity, making them perfect for the island’s seafood-driven cuisine. I’m personally on a quest to pair Assyrtiko with oysters, as I think they’re likely to be a wonderful match.

Assyrtikos that are fermented and aged in oak often bear the name Nikteri (or Nykteri or Nychteri) which is a protected and regulated name designation like Tokaji or Sauternes, though there isn’t a place named Nykteri. Niktas means “night” in Greek, with “Nicteri” meaning “night shift” or something close to it, which used to be the colloquial way of referring to the harvest on Santorini, which often took place at night.

These days, Nikteri wines simply refer to wines made from Assyrtiko that have had a minimum of 3 months aging in oak barrels before bottling. Many of these wines are quite interesting, as Assyrtiko seems to do well in oak, at least up to a point. I found many examples of over-oaked wines that had lost their fundamental character to wood. But those that kept the oak restrained often resulted in rich, characterful wines with a remarkable savoriness.

The other, frankly confusing designation that can be found on the island’s white wines is the name “Santorini.” And by this, I don’t mean simply a reference to where the wine is from. Most producers actually make a wine called “Santorini” which, like Nikteri, is a protected and regulated name that can be applied to a tank aged white wine that is either 100% Assyrtiko, or more often, a blend of Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani.

There are also red grapes grown on the island, though, I must admit, only a few really good red wines are made from them. The heat and sunlight of the island’s climate prevent truly fresh red wines from being made, and instead the reds tend to have a cooked and dried quality to them, though there are exceptions to this generalization.

By far the most interesting use of red grapes on the island seems to be for rosé wines, of which there are a few truly exceptional examples, all made from blending one or more of the island’s indigenous red grapes with Assyrtiko, occasionally co-fermenting the two.

The wines of Santorini are nothing short of astonishing, both for their simple existence in a climate and location that are both remarkably hostile to agriculture, as well as for their quality and value.

By the time I left the island, I was deeply in love with Assyrtiko as a grape, especially with a little age on it. Bracing, even austere in its minerality when young, like Riesling Assyrtiko gains secondary flavors and aromas that lean towards petrol, paraffin, and other phenolics over time. Just a couple of years into bottle aging, Assyrtiko starts to take on some very interesting characteristics that make for fantastic drinking. The well executed versions of Nikteri wines can have a Burgundian richness that is also very compelling. An indigenous grape variety that has a wonderfully unique character, that makes ageworthy, excellent wines is a treasure indeed.

Add to these wines the fantastic rosés that the island produces, and the unique and fantastic Vinsantos, which are further evidence of the treasure that Assyrtiko represents, and you have a truly exceptional wine region, all the more remarkable and noteworthy given the average price of its wines hovers somewhere in the $22 range. My impressions of Greece overall will have to wait for another post, but Santorini offers an indication of what fantastic wine values await in this country.

One final thought before speaking about the individual producers, and that is about the overall quality of wines from the island. The less successful red wines aside, it’s pretty hard to find a lousy bottle of wine with the word “Santorini” on it, which is quite remarkable. Sure, there were some wines that I didn’t particularly care for. But of the nearly 80 white wines reviewed below, simply choosing one at random, for $20 would likely result in a great deal of satisfaction for any discerning wine lover. The island is simply a great source of serious, food-friendly wines at great prices. I cannot recommend highly enough that you seek out (yes, unfortunately it will take some effort) these wines.

What follows below are the tasting notes and scores for all the wines I tasted from Santorini, grouped by producer. Where I know for a fact that the wines can be purchased online, I’ve provided a link to do so. Most of the wines that have prices provided for them are imported to the United States (prices were provided by the wineries), though most, as you can see are not available for sale online. I have provided importer information for each winery to make it as easy as possible for you to get ahold of a wine you’re interested in.

Santo Wines

Santo Wines is actually the island’s long standing cooperative winery. All of the wine made on the island used to be made by a cooperative, with all the small family farmers bringing their fruit in to be made into wine in one place. Found in 1947 it is the island’s largest producer, vinifying roughly 70% of the grapes grown on the island. For a cooperative, Santo makes exceptionally high quality wines, some of which are among the greatest values on the island.

US IMPORTER: Vareli Wines, Hicksville, NY. www.vareliwines.com

2010 Santo Wines Aidani
Light yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of candied apples and lemon zest. In the mouth it offers golden delicious apples and wet stone flavors with good acidity. Somewhat simple. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5.

2010 Santo Wines Assyrtiko
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon zest, wet stones, and hints of baked apples. In the mouth the wine is zingy and bright with lemon pith and super juicy acidity. Notes of wet chalkboard linger in the finish. Bright and crisp and quite refreshing, in a way that belies its 15% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9.

2006 Santo Wines Assyrtiko
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of petrol and old parchment with a hint of waxiness. In the mouth the wine offers mineral and saline flavors with notes of lemon curd, chamomile, and paraffin. Beautiful and elegant, with a mouthwatering quality, this wine is quite quaffable. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9.

2002 Santo Wines “Ampelia” White Blend
Medium yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of petrol and paraffin. In the mouth, wonderful mineral and lemon wax flavors mix with notes of crushed stones and yellow flowers. Hints of dried herbs emerge on the finish. A nice saline quality makes this wine quite gulpable. Made from organic vineyards and fermented with indigenous yeasts. A blend of 85% Assyrtiko, 5% Athiri, and 10% Aidani. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9.

2010 Santo Wines Nykteri White Blend
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon peel, cold cream, and a hint of salinity. In the mouth the wine offers a wonderfully saline, lemony flavor with cold cream and deep minerals. Perhaps not quite as complex as it could be, the wine is still lovely, with a slightly spicy finish. Aged for three months in 20% new French oak. A blend of 85% Assyrtiko, 10% Athiri, and 5% Aidani. 15% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $24

2007 Santo Wines Nykteri White Blend
A bright medium yellow in the glass, this wine smells of neon candied lemon and hints of petrol with salty overtones and hints of brimstone. In the mouth wonderfully saline lemon zest and cold cream mix with a crystalline minerality that is frankly stunning. Gorgeously delicious. A blend of 85% Assyrtiko, 10% Athiri, and 5% Aidani. 14% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5.

2008 Santo Wines Grande Reserve Assyrtiko
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of vanilla and lemon blossoms. In the mouth silky textures deliver wonderfully saline flavors of lemon curd, salted butter, and crushed stones, with a hint of smokiness. Harmonious, balanced, and mouthwateringly delicious, but with a hint of alcoholic heat on the finish. Made from very old vineyards, with vines more than 100 years old. Aged for 1 year in used French oak barrels and one year in bottle before release. 15% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5.

2004 Santo Wines Vinsanto
Medium amber in the glass, this wine smells of burnt orange peel, caramel, and brown sugar. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful juiciness, with candied orange and lemon peel flavors, dried mango, and caramelized brown sugar. It offers a long brown sugar finish. A blend of 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani. Moderately sweet with great acidity, and 11% alcohol. Score: around 9.

NV Santo Wines “8 Year” Vinsanto
Medium chocolate brown in the glass, this wine smells of crushed herbs, chocolate, coconut and candied orange peel. In the mouth candied orange, candied tropical fruits like mango, papaya, and pineapple and hints of coffee and toffee linger through a long finish. Good acidity and moderate sweetness. A blend of 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani from the past 8 vintages. 11% alcohol. Score: around 9.



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Gavalas Winery

A tiny family-owned and run operation, with winemaking done by the young Ms. Margarita Karamolegou under supervision of the third generation of the Gavalas family. Just a few steel tanks and a couple dozen barrels in an old shed, but this winery turns out some excellent wines, including one of the best reds on the island.

US IMPORTER: Dionysos Imports Monassas, VA. 703-392-7073 dionysos91@hotmail.com

2010 Gavalas “Santorini” White Blend
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright lemon zest and grapefruit pith. wet chalkboard, hints of tropical fruit, hints of steel as well. Tank fermented and aged. Long finish, bright and zingy. Apricot on finish. 5% Aidani, 95% Assyrtiko. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $16

2009 Gavalas Nikteri Assyrtiko
Bright yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey, nut skin, kumquat, and petrichor. In the mouth, tart candied lemon rind flavors mix with flavors of wet chalk amidst a silky texture and nice acidity. The wine offers a long, salty, white tea finish. Even faint tannins are evident. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15

2010 Gavalas Katsano
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of unripe pear and wet concrete. In the mouth, mild flavors of unripe apples, wet stones, and green grass swirl amidst decent acidity. the primary grape variety here is the indigenous Katsano (plus a little bit of Gaidouria) which used to be used to make raisins, but Mr. Gavalas decided to try making wine with it. This is the only wine in Greece made from these grapes. 3050 bottles produced. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20

2010 Gavalas Xenoloo Red Blend
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, licorice, and incense. In the mouth the wine has a bright citrusy acidity, with stony, mineral and raspberry / cherry flavors mixed with a bitter woody quality. Tannins creep into the finish. Wonderfully bright and lively. Made similar to a rose, but darker. Spends 8 months in 4-year-old barrels. In addition to Mavrotragano and Voudomato, This wine has 5% Athiri, a white variety. This blend was developed by the owner’s father. Mavrotragano means “black crunchy.” Voudomato means “eye of the bull” and it is a somewhat rare, red fleshed grape. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16

2004 Gavalas Vinsanto
Dark amber in the glass, this wine smells of oiled leather and honey toasted nuts, with candied orange rinds. In the mouth, the wine offers wonderfully creamy coffee and milk with crème brulee and tres leches cake flavors. The finish tastes of raisins with a hint of tannin. Only moderately sweet with excellent acidity. The wine spends 6 years in ancient oak barrels before bottling. A blend of 80% Assyrtiko, with smaller amounts of Aidani and Athiri. 10% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30

1999 Gavalas “Santorini” White Blend
Medium amber in the glass, this wine smells of roasted nut skins and a hint of oxidation. In the mouth the wine has a creamy nutty quality with nice acidity. Flavors of parchment and paraffin mix with wet stone and wet leaves. The finish still has that hint of saltiness that is often found in these wines. A blend of 90% Assyrtiko and 10% Aidani. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5.

2010 Gavalas “Iris” Regional Blend Rosé
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of sulfur (no surprise since it was just bottled 3 weeks ago, and which means this aroma should go away) and bright red fruit. In the mouth the wine has a bright freshness with tart cherry, a hint of smokiness, and a deep minerality. Faint tannins linger in the finish. Fantastically refreshing and stony. A blend of 90% Assyrtiko (a white grape) and 10% Mandilaria (a red). 13% alcohol. Score: around 9.

2010 Gavalas “Iris” Red Blend
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and grapey aromas. In the mouth it has a purple SweetTart character and grapey flavors that mix with cassis and black cherry. Nice acidity and tannins linger in the finish. A blend of 90% Mandilaria, 10% Mavrotragano, 10% Voudomato. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5.



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Gaia Winery

Started in 1994 by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Leon Karatsalos, Gaia (pronounced YAY-ah) is one of the better known wineries on the island. And for good reason. The wines, made by Mr. Paraskevopoulos, are quite exceptional, and that is even before some of them get submerged in the ocean to age in a completely oxygen free environment (a recent area of experimentation for the scuba aficionado and Bordeaux-trained enologist Paraskevopoulos). The Santorini winery is in an old mustard factory right on the beach with a cabana and pool out back.

US IMPORTER: Athenee Importers & Distributors, Hempstead, NY www.atheneeimporters.com

2010 Gaia “Thalassitis” Assyrtiko
Pale gold, nearly colorless in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and a hint of sea air. In the mouth the wine has a tart green apple skin flavor, and along with the accompanying tannins, a smooth, silky quality. Bright quartz crystalline acidity accompanies a wonderful rainwater finish. This tasting note was made from a bottle that had been open 24 hours, and the difference between a freshly opened bottle by comparison, was stark. This wine gets more complexity with air. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $27. Click to buy.

2010 Gaia “Wild Ferment” Assyrtiko
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of chamomile, sea air, and paraffin. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful waxy, green apple, lime, and lemon pith flavor, underwritten by steely minerality and cold cream flavors. A long finish. Made 50% in stainless, and 50% in new wood, of which 1/3 each was American oak, French oak, and Acacia. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $32

2009 Gaia Thalassitis-Oak Fermented Assyrtiko
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd, wet stones, and a hint of wet wood that is very charming. In the mouth, the wine offers wonderfully saline flavors of lemon juice, steel and wet stone, with a nice silky character. Faint, powdery tannins are beautiful additions of complexity. Aged in 100% new French oak, which it holds beautifully. 14% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5.

2002 Gaia Vinsanto
Medium amber in the glass, this wine smells of burnt orange peel and bergamot, caramel and raisins. In the mouth the wine offers moderately sweet flavors of caramel, coffee, candied orange peel, and bitters amidst bright, juicy acidity. A long brown sugar finish wraps up the package. A blend of Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani, though to what proportions I am not 100% certain. 11% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost:



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Roussos

The oldest operating winery on the island, with continuous harvesting by the family that owns it since 1836, and some wines still made in Russian oak barrels that are more than 100-years-old (see photo), Roussos makes one of the most interesting and unique red wines on the island. Their vine covered terrace outside their tasting room is one of the island’s more idyllic spots to spend an hour or three.

US IMPORTER: Vingreco Wines – Petropoulos Inc., Clemmons, NC. www. vingrecowines.com

2007 Roussos Nykteri Assyrtiko
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, parchment, and petrol, with a distinct oxidative character like fino sherry. In the mouth the wine has a nice mineral and nut skin quality, with fainter lemon and pomelo zest flavors, but generally is quite austere. A distinctive savory style that is not for everyone, but which recalls some funky oxidative Chenin Blancs from the Loire valley. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20

2001 Roussos Nykteri White Blend
A deep rich medium gold in the glass, this wine smells of nut skin and wet leaves. In the mouth, flavors of wet leaves, earth, and resins mix with an odd funkiness that isn’t entirely pleasing. Softer acids. Incomplete or just over the hill. A blend of Assyrtiko and Athiri. 14% alcohol. Score: around 6.

2004 Roussos “Caldera” Regional Blend
Light cloudy ruby in the glass, this wine has a bright redcurrant and raspberry aroma. In the mouth the wine offers very tart sour cherry and redcurrant flavors with mouth coating tannins and deep crushed stone minerality. Fantastic acidity and that deep stone quality make this a very distinctive wine that reminds me a bit of reds from the Savoie region of France and their tart grapes like Poulsard. One of the more unique red wines made on Santorini and quite delicious. A blend of red Mandilaria, and white Assyrtiko. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20

2002 Roussos “Athiri” White Blend
Beautiful, perfect amber color in the glass, this wine smells of caramelized wood and coffee candy. In the mouth the wine has remarkably aggressive tannins for a white dessert wine, and woody, moderately sweet flavors of candied raisins, caramel, and coffee nibs. Made from grapes dried for five days in the sun (less than required for Vinsanto). A blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8. Cost: $25

2002 Roussos “Nama” Red Blend
Dark brown amber in the glass, this wine smells of exotic herbs and bitters. In the mouth, moderately sweet flavors of bitters, coffee, chocolate, and earthy caramel. Wonderfully soft leathery tannins wrap around the tongue, and linger with hints of candied citrus and licorice in the finish. Excellent acidity keeps the wine from being syrupy. The grapes, a blend of two red varieties, Mandilaria and Mavrathiro, are sun dried for 10 days. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25 Click to buy.

2006 Roussos Vinsanto
Perfect amber color in the glass, this wine smells of burnt orange rind and caramel. In the mouth the wine offers relatively simple flavors of candied orange rind, dulce de leche, and lightly maple, woody notes that linger in the finish. Only moderately sweet with decent acidity. Made from the traditional blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $25

2001 Roussos Vinsanto
Medium amber in the glass, this wine smells of burnt coffee and brown sugar. In the mouth, bright acidity makes flavors of caramel, coffee, orange rind, and maple sugar super juicy in the mouth. Long slightly woody finish. Made from the traditional blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri. 9.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $38


Karamolegos Winery

The young Artemis Karamolegos learned how to make wine at the knee of his grandfather, who, like many on the island, made a little wine for himself each year in the garage, while selling the majority of the grapes on his land to other wineries. In 2003 Karamolegos decided that he wanted to try his hand at making wine, and took a break from his construction company to give it a go. While he hasn’t stopped working construction, which is a good way to keep busy during the winter, his winery has been expanding ever since, based on his family’s ownership of and access to about 30 hectares of vineyards. Karamolegos is the sole person running the winery, with help from family and friends, as well as a consulting enologist.

US IMPORTER: Hellas Import Limited, Brookline, MA. www.hellasimportltd.com

2010 Karamolegos Assyrtiko
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of salty sea air and unripe apple and pear, with a hint of yeastiness. In the mouth the wine is bright and crisp, with green apple and unripe pear flavors mixed with a bit of yeastiness. Light lemon zest flavors linger in the finish. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8. Cost: $15

2009 Karamolegos Assyrtiko
Pale yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of sea air and yellow flowers, with a nice waxy component. In the mouth the wine has a nice slippery texture and a waxy yellow flower and lemon zest profile. Slightly softer acidity than usual for this grape variety. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15

2009 Karamolegos “Santorini Barrel Aged” Assyrtiko
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of apple and pear and lemon curd. In the mouth the wine offers lemon curd and slightly briny rainwater flavors mixed with the vanilla of oak. Long lemony finish. Aged for 6 months in 50% new French oak, and slightly worse for wear because of it. A bit too much oak for my taste. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20

2009 Karamolegos “Santorini” White Blend
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied lemon peel with a hint of petrol. In the mouth, the wine has a bright saline quality mixed with lemon curd and deeply resonant wet stones. A petrol and paraffin note creeps into the wine, along with chamomile flavors on the finish. Wonderfully balanced and tasty. A blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $16

2010 Karamolegos “Santorini” White Blend
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon zest and wet stones. In the mouth the wine has a bright saline quality with lemon zest and mineral flavors that linger beautifully with nice acidity through a long finish. Refreshing. 80% Assyrtiko, 10% Aidani, 10% Athiri. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $16

2010 Karamolegos Nykteri White Blend
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream and lemon juice. In the mouth it offers a very silky complexion with flavors of candied lemon peel, cold cream and the hint of vanilla and drying tannins from the oak. Delicate acidity. Fermented in steel, and then 3-4 months French oak barrel aging, 80% of which is new, which to my palate is a bit too much. A blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $19

2009 Karamolegos Nykteri White Blend
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of new oak and lemon curd with a wet stone and rainwater note. In the mouth the wine offers flavors of lemon cream and the sweet vanilla of new French oak. The oak begins to obscure much of the fruit character in the wine, unfortunately. A blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri. 14% alcohol. Score: between 7.5 and 8. Cost: $19

2010 Karamolegos “Terranera White” Assyrtiko
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of sea air, cucumber, and unripe apples and pears. In the mouth mineral flavors, plus unripe pears and apples linger with a rainwater coolness. Tank fermented and aged on the lees for one month. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $13

2010 Karamolegos “Terranera Rosé” Regional Blend
Light beryl red in the glass, this wine smells of red berries and wet stones. In the mouth the wine offers tart sour cherry and redcurrant flavors mixed with wet stones and a wet chalkboard finish. Decent acidity, but somewhat simple flavors that turn a little bitter in the end. A blend of white Assyrtiko and red Mandilaria. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $13

2009 Karamolegos “Terranera Red” Mandilaria
Light garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of black fruit jam and raisins. In the mouth the wine offers very drying tannins and dried fruit flavors, which result in the overall impression of the wine being pure tannin, and not enough fruit. I find this wine very difficult to drink. 13% alcohol. Score: between 6.5 and 7. Cost: $15

2007 Karamolegos Mavrotragano
Light to medium garnet in the glass with a somewhat brownish cast, this wine smells of chocolate covered raisins. In the mouth a combination of black olive and raisin flavors mix with black tea tannins and other woody flavors that linger in the finish. Somewhat dried out and overripe. 13% alcohol. Score: around 7.5. Cost: $30

2004 Karamolegos Vinsanto
Reddish brown amber in the glass, this wine smells of woody caramel and candied orange peel. In the mouth excellent acidity makes caramel, brown sugar, and candied orange peel flavors bright and juicy. Faint tannins linger in the background. Moderately sweet. Not as complex as it could be. A blend of Assyrtiko and Aidani. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $32

2005 Karamolegos Vinsanto
Medium amber brown in the glass, this wine smells of candied raisins and caramel. In the mouth the wine is moderately sweet with raisins, caramel and candied orange peel flavors that linger in the finish. Decent acidity. A blend of Assyrtiko and Aidani. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $29


Boutari

Boutari, now a large family-run conglomerate that owns many wineries throughout the world, was one of the pioneers of modern winemaking in Santorini. Beginning in the late 1970s, Boutari was one of the earliest independent wineries on the island, and successfuly integrated modern winemaking techniques with the island’s traditional culture of wine, and is credited with dramatically improving the overall quality of wine on the island. Many of the island’s producers and winemakers got their start working for Boutari.

US IMPORTER: Terlato Wines International, www.terlatowines.com

2010 Boutari “Santorini” Assyrtiko
Pale blond gold in the glass, this wine smells of unripe apples and hints of pineapple. In the mouth the wine is crisp and bright, with flavors of candied lemon rind and wet stone. White flowers emerge in the finish. Nice acidity. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20

2008 Boutari