Are you hungry for a new, sensational wine to add to your collection? Want a different type of wine to grace your palette? If you haven’t tried a Santorini wine, you haven’t really lived.
That goes for those who aren’t wine connoisseurs, either. Whether you have a vague interest in wine or want to become an expert, Santorini is a Greek wine region worth knowing about. It’s rich in history and flavor, and the island is known for a few unique features that may explain why their wine is so divine.
A Condensed History of Santorini
While the most famous form of Santorini wine is their Vinsanto, a style of Italian dessert wine mostly found in Tuscany, the newest craze from the island is their rose wine made from Assyrtiko white grapes indigenous to their land. As novel as we may find this wine as it’s recently come into fashion, the Assyrtiko wine produced in Santorini was actually some of the most valuable wine produced in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Santorini wine wouldn’t come to America until the 20th century when Greek immigrants were bringing different styles of wine to their new homeland. Many wines during this time were labeled as repulsive due to the common trend of retsina, or a traditional wine served with pine resin. Assyrtiko and other Santorini wines were affected by this stigma, though now they have come to prominence as wine continues to gain popularity in U.S. markets.
What Makes Santorini Wine Unique?
A great one is one that is unique and flavorful. You can almost taste the location in the drink — and drinking a Santorini wine gives you the sensation of being on the beautiful, breathtaking island.
There are two distinct features that make Santorini wines so sought after and different from other similar wines. First, Santorini is an island that has soil made from volcanic ash. This simultaneously offers the wine an acidic flavor that has become something of a trademark, while also killing off phylloxera.
For those unfamiliar, phylloxera is a type of parasite resembling an aphid. Known as “grape phylloxera,” its main source of nutrition and sustenance is the root system of a grapevine. This soil means that some roots found in Santorini are centuries old, producing incredible, strong flavors.
Perhaps the most noticeably distinct of the two features is how grapes are grown in Santorini. Unlike typical growing methods, Santorini wine producers use a training system known as koulara, pictured above. As the vines grow, grape growers weave the vines into basket-like formations that hug the ground, as pictured above. These formations cause the vines to grow into a bowl-shaped bush with the leaves and vines protecting the grapes that grow on the bowl’s inside from getting too much sunlight prematurely.
This is how famed Santorini wines like Nykteri and the eponymous Santorini are crafted with such an incredible and unique flavor. Unique conditions and methods for producing grapes lead to a more distinct flavor within a wine.
Santorini wines are becoming more popular within the United States. If you’re able to find a bottle, I suggest to snatch it up. You’ll be amazed by the incredible, aromatic experience a Santorini wine has to offer! Click here to order your Santorini wine.
The Cork Stop
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For many couples, friends and families it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without sharing a glass of red wine along with a traditional box of chocolates. Below are some guidelines for wine lovers who also love chocolate.
Dark chocolate. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the best choices. Either pair beautifully with the heavy bitterness of dark chocolate. The varieties being produced in Australia are especially appropriate, but any full-bodied Shiraz or Cab with intense tannin and jammy tastes will do the trick. Remember: Bold is beautiful.
Milk chocolate. Is someone you love a fan of the mild, sweet, creamy taste of milk chocolate? If so, head for the Pinot Noir section of your local wine shop. Look for the budget friendly choices that are coming out of New Zealand. Their quality rivals the fine Pinots being produced in the Pacific Northwest.
White chocolate. Fans of white chocolate will appreciate a lighter wine. Spanish Cavas are stupendous for the occasion and one of the best values out there. Either a sweet or dry works nicely. So why not try one of each for a tantalizingly private tasting.
Try not to pinch pennies when it comes to wine. Fortune magazine writer Daryna Tobey offers some recommendations for those times when the price point is no problem. The names alone are worth the money.
– Marchesi Antinori 2012 Solaia Toscana IGT. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc from Tuscany sells for an impressive $325.
– Dal Forno Romano 2009 Amarone della Valpolicella. The luxurious red for the Veneto region of Northeast Italy will set you back $450.
– 2012 Red Wine Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend. This $285 offering from Ovid Vineyard in St. Helena, California, belongs among the world’s elite.
If your special someone loves both wine that stands out from the crowd and saving money, you’ll earn extra points with these two selections:
2009 Alta Vista. This Malbec blend with 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is produced in Mendoza, Argentina, by a French family that operates wineries around the world. Well worth its $90 price tag.
Three Sticks 2013 Pinot Noir. Durell Vinyard on California’s Sonoma Coast offers this top-notch Pino for a song ($65).
Can’t get your hands on one of these? Head to The Cork Stop for a quality wine that’s sure to make a blockbuster statement.
If a top-shelf wine is out of reach, consider something with a label made with love in mind from this list compiled by greatwines.com. (Also, check out our recent post titled “How the Best Wine Labels Seduce and Sell.”)
– Sexy Wine Bomb, a red blend from California.
– 2011 Eroica Riesling, from Washington state.
– Sultry Cabernet Franc, by Williamson Wines of Sonoma County, California.
– Cuvée les Amours, a Pino Blanc from Hugel &Vils of Alsace, France.
– 2011 Château Calon-Ségur, from Saint Estephe in the Bordeaux region of France, has an elegantly simple outline of a heart enclosing a very romantic type font in pale red.
– Desiree, from Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda, California.
– Fourplay, a blend of “four” Sicilian red grape varieties.
Still uncertain on how to find the perfect wine? The Cork Stop offers two suggestions from the Loire Valley of France to get you started:
Tuffe 2013. This wine from Château du Hureau is considered one of the best drinking Cabernet Francs at its price point.
Domaine Richou 2015. This is a balanced, mineral, crisp Chenin Blanc with plenty of citrus.
Pair whatever wine you choose with some extra effort and creativity to guarantee a Valentine’s Day to remember. For instance, instead of paying for a wine subscription service, choose 12 bottles yourself and deliver one every month in person. Many wine stores offer discounts on 6 or 12 bottle purchases.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Cork Stop
By Audrey DeSisto