Getting up close and personal with Santorini’s wine culture
We just got back from a tour of the Santorini vineyard with a bunch of people who got the chance to experience first hand the wine region that redefines the meaning of “Vin de Terroir”. Levi Dalton and Pascaline Lepeltier of NYC were joined by Scott Gaghan of St Louis and Courtney Humiston of Sonoma, as they visited each of the wineries on the island, tasting their way through just about everything Santorini has to offer. They also got the chance to sample the traditional cuisine of Santorini (delicious), as the local cherry tomato harvest was just beginning, and explore the ruins of this 4000 year old wine culture. “It’s the one place in the world that even the beautiful pictures that everyone has seen cannot come close to describing the grandeur and contrasts of this mystical place”, said Sofia Perpera of Wines from Santorini. And the visitors were truly impressed by what they saw and tasted – because until you have walked in the rocky, volcanic soils of Santorini, you can’t quite understand these wines, the definition of the elusive meaning and origins of minerality.
TASTE SANTORINI WEEK takes New York City by storm!
Santorini winemakers set off Spring Fever in NYC this past April as they presented the latest vintage from this volcanic paradise at a series of events for the media, trade, and consumers, highlighting the first annual “Taste Santorini Week.”
The week kicked off with a series of winemaker in-store tastings at Astor Wine Center, Gotham Wines & Liquors and Maslow 6. Consumers finally got the chance to get up close and personal with Santorini’s finest as winemakers from throughout the island presented their vin de terroir paired with light seasonal fare. The celebrations continued with a late night sommelier party at Salvation Taco, Chef April Bloomfeld’s popular Mexican restaurant that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these wines can go with any cuisine. The place was packed as winemakers pulled out older vintages, some going back 20 years, and impressing everyone with the aging potential of the extraordinary Assyrtiko variety, fast becoming a darling of local somms. A highlight of the event was an unusually competitive Ping Pong Tournament, held between the winemakers and trade for the chance at a 5-night luxury hotel stay in Santorini. Ronald Hsu, a sous chef at Le Bernadin, outlasted the field, displaying some lively acrobatic shots and claiming his prize in the wee hours of the morning.
Later in the week, top members of the media and trade joined the producers at Molyvos, as celebrated Greek restaurateur, George Hadziyiannakis of Selene restaurant in Santorini, brought his chef, Nikos Boukis, to work with Chef Jim Botsakos and create an island tasting experience using products grown on the volcano. It was a fitting celebration, highlighting Santorini’s Year of Gastronomy 2013. Before everyone sat down for lunch, the winemakers treated their guests to a walk-around tasting of new and older vintages including some very old Vinsanto. Markos Kafouros, President of SantoWines the island’s Union of Cooperatives, welcomed the attendees and shared insights about the special environment that has created a wine culture on the island that dates back over 4000 years. The event left everyone juiced about the future of these wines in the American marketplace.
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Playing the Ratings Game
Ratings are a touchy subject in the world of wine, but for an emerging region like Santorini, it offers a benchmark with which the wines can be compared to others in the market. The wineries do know, though, that the real proof of acceptance is whether their wines are placed in restaurants and wine shops so consumers can buy them. Solely for this reason, Santorini wineries have to be feeling pretty good right about now. Sommeliers throughout the country are embracing these remarkable wines produced from indigenous varieties that are grown in possibly the world’s most unique growing environment (it is a volcanic island, after all!). The vines of Santorini have evolved over thousands of years to defy the hostile, yet stimulating conditions of this hot, windy volcanic island. Santorini is also helping pave the way for other Greek wine regions that are also producing world-class wines from indigenous varieties, as acceptance in the mainstream market continues to grow. Needless to say, Santorini wines (and all Greek wines, for that matter) are here to stay!
See Ratings Here
Estate Argyros… Keeping up the family tradition and beyond!
Mattheos Argyros of Argyros Estate in Santorini has a big challenge ahead as he guides the winery into the future, but he is relishing the opportunity to keep up the family tradition. With his father’s passing still a recent memory, he is working even harder to continue his father’s vision and, in fact, take it to the next level. With the help of Stefanos Georgas, who has joined the Argyros team, the two are fashioning a strategy for the future that includes increasing the family’s vineyard plantings and building a new winery. Mattheos has actually been running the operations for some years now, while his father focused on the winemaking, but he has a plan in mind that bodes well for the future of Santorini wine and the beautiful island he calls home. We spoke with Mattheos recently and here are some of his thoughts.
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