Hatzidakis Winery Santorini Dry White Wine 2006

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It is perhaps a cruel twist of fate that the words “Greek” and “Wine” now elicit furrowed brows and scratched heads more than respect. For the originators of grape growing in the Western world, Greece sure has an image problem these days – one I’m sure the current financial crisis is not helping to mitigate.

A History both Ancient and Modern

At one time this was understandable as Greece did tend to make poor quality and often oxidized wines. Since the mid 1980’s, however, Greece has come back on the scene as an increasing force not just for quality wine but also for a bevy of wine made from indigenous varieties. With the rest of the world rushing to plant the closely related international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Greece has held on to what should become its greatest asset – a genetic tradition perhaps stemming back to Ancient Greece itself.

There is plenty to explore in Greece and the country warrants a spotlight of its own. My only reason for not doing so is, simply, that it is impossible to get Greek wine in this market. It is, in fact, extremely difficult to get Greek wine in most of North America. I hope this is a trend that will change.

Island Terroir

The regions of Greece are diverse as are the terroirs, but today’s wine comes from the Island of Santorini – a Volcano jutting beautifully out of the sea, and one which has caught the attention of many a tourist to the Greek islands. Santorini is home to fascinating terroir, not just because of its volcanic soils, but also because it is so dry and windswept that its ancient bush vines must hug the earth in order to protect their fruit. The most important variety here is the white grape Assyrtiko, a grape that originated on the island and that has the ability to retain high acidity in high temperatures. There are others, including those blended in this wine: Aldani and Athiri – both traditional blending grapes.

Golden Hued Liquor of the Gods

The wine pours a dark gold that is surprisingly rich in hue. The nose is initially soft, but eventually offers semi-oxidative aromas of rotten apple and dates.

The wine truly comes alive on the palate where I detected a strong old oak influence, probably from quite old barrels. The wine has a character not unlike older white Rioja with notes of honey, dates and nuts, but the wine is perhaps a bit rounder compared to, say, Lopez de Heredia. There is good freshness that makes the wine crsip despite its richness. It finishes very dry and slightly tannic.

This is both serious and easy to drink – like a wise old friend around whom you never cease to feel comfortable despite the uniqueness and erudition lying underneath. A wine worth drinking often and in full cups – this is both a wine to cuddle whilst reading a good book and one to wax exuberantly over with good friends. An exciting discovery for me, and hopefully for you too. At this price you’d be silly not to try it.

Excellent
$30 at Kits Wine Cellar

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