Do you like to travel? I love to travel. Seeing the world and experiencing cultures different than my own is one of my greatest joys in life. Take Greece for example. Imagine sitting in a small café on a steep Caldera cliff in a tranquil Santorini town such as Fira, Imerovigli or Oia, overlooking the piercingly majestic blue waters of the Aegean Sea. The pristine white stucco buildings standing in sharp contrast to the stunningly blue water. The sun is setting and you are dining with your favorite travel companion. You are not familiar with the local wines so you ask the waiter to bring you a crisp, clean white wine to pair with the wonderful fresh fish you are about to enjoy. Upon receiving the glass of wine you notice the color is so translucent it is almost clear, aromas of fresh fruit, flowers and earth notes jump out of the glass as the acidity coats your palate. You ask, “What type of wine is this?” The waiter answers, “Assyrtiko!” Your meal arrives as you raise your glass of Assyrtiko to toast with your favorite travel companion a little slice of heaven.
I have never been to Greece; however, it is certainly on my short list of places I’d like to visit. While there I will spend some time on the glorious island of Santorini. Not only will I take in the tourist sites and enjoy great food and great people, while there I will visit some of the Santorini’s wineries and enjoy one of Santorini’s most widely planted grapes: Assyrtiko.
Assyrtiko: This grape is indigenous to the island of Santorini and is widely planted in the island’s volcanic rich soils. This grape consists of 70% of the grapes planted on the island. It is naturally disease resistant but susceptible to oxidation, which the winemakers have used to their advantage to create wines of varying characteristics such as dried fig, coffee and chocolate, or crafted in its more traditional manner of orchard fruit, citrus and mineral notes. It consists of high levels of acidity and alcohol allowing it great aging potential as well as pair beautifully with a variety of cuisines. It can also be crafted into the sweeter Vin Santo wines.
I was blessed recently to receive two Assyrtiko media samples from Santorini recently. As I enjoyed these two lovely wines I longed to sip them in that small café overlooking the Aegean Sea with my favorite travel companion. Some day….
Estate Argyros Atlantis 2014 White Wine: This wine was crafted of 90% Assyrtiko, 5% Athiri, and 5% Aidani. It poured a yellow so soft it was almost clear. It held a firm backbone of minerality while supporting additional flavors of lemon zest, white peaches, pears, white floral notes and savory herbal notes. The acidity was persistent and round on the palate, coating the mouth in a dryness felt especially in the sides and rear palate. It was crisp and clean with a dry, lingering, mouth-watering finish. Aging potential 2-3 years; 12.5% alcohol; Served chilled 47-50°F. I could sip on this wine for hours.
I chose to pair this wine a recipe I found in the August edition of Cooking Light Magazine called Greek-Style Chicken Wraps. As usual I made a few adjustments to the recipe. I used Lavash bread instead of whole wheat flour tortillas, I added thinly diced purple onions and topped the ingredients with a bit of tziki sauce before rolling it up for an added creaminess. The meal was perfect for summer because it did not involve an over or stove, it was light and easy. Furthermore, as expected the Greek-Style Chicken Wraps paired perfectly with the Atlantis Assyrtiko! I love it when a weeknight meal is that easy and delicious.
Estate Argyros Santorini was established in 1903 by Georgios Argyros with 5 acres in Episkopi Gonia Thiras Santorini. In 1950 the estate passed to Mathew Argyros, who expanded the acreage to 15. Since 1974, Georgios’ grandson Yiannis has run the winery, increasing the family vineyards to 65 acres while working hard to combine the family traditions with modern technology and to ensure the quality of their grapes. Estate Argyros was named one of the top 100 wineries in the world in Wine & Spirits Magazine in both 2005 and 2006. They perennially produce wines that score 90+ points in an array of notable wine magazines and international competitions.
Santo Wines Santorini Nykteri 2014: This wine was crafted from a blend of Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani. Aged three months in oak barrels. This wine poured a bright yellow into the glass. It offered a bounty of layered flavors including tart green apple, pear, lemon zest, savory herbal notes and a lingering minerality on the back of the palate. The round acidity left a mouth watering dryness that lingered on the palate, leaving the mouth begging for another sip.
In order to demonstrate the diversity of Santorini wines I chose to pair this wine with non-Greek cuisine. August in Texas means blazing hot temperatures and Hatch chilies. Both Whole Foods and Central Market embrace Hatch chilies with weeks of festivals. I love Hatch chilies so I wanted to see how the heat of the roasted peppers would pair with the Nykteri Assyrtiko. I paired the wine with Maryland Style Hatch Chili crab cakes, roasted corn on the cob with a Hatch chili butter and Hatch chili, corn and red bell pepper rice. The meal was delicious and really worked with the wine. The round acidity made the Nyketri a great food wine and because roasted Hatch chilies are more savory than spicy it was an excellent meal.
From the Santo Wines web site: The Union of Santorini Cooperatives, named as SantoWines, was founded in 1947. Today, SantoWines, the biggest wine producer of the island, has approximately 2500 members that equals to the total number of the producers of the island, while 1000 of them are active. SantoWines social responsibility profile goes along with its corporate strategic view. Our aim is to support Santorini producers and to protect Santorini vineyard and it’s unique in the world grape varieties.
Wine for us is art, made with love and care…. and for that reason we have gathered all the necessary elements…
Santo Wines has also won countless international awards for their wines and winery. Trip Advisor even awarded them a Certificate of Excellence in 2013 as a vacation destination.
Both of these two wineries are known the world over for producing high quality wines. Furthermore, they both make great stops on a Santorini vacation. I don’t know about you but I am ready to book my trip today! Both of wines are distributed within the United States and sold at less than $20/bottle, so please seek them out online and from your favorite local wine retailer.
My Song Selection: I have chosen to pair these two wines with Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix. Both the wines and the songs are layered with flavor, rich and round, with a little spice, pairs well with anything, great to just relax and enjoy and endlessly pleasing.
Get your own glasses of Estate Argyros Atlantis 2014 White Wine and Santo Wines Santorini Nykteri 2014 and let me know what song you pair with them. And thanks for traveling to Santori with me. Cheers!