My First Trip to Greece for Wine
Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility. Legend tells us that Dionysus was the only Greek god born of a mortal parent, Semele. Known for his dual personality, Dionysus could bring erotic passion and happiness along with rage and madness. During his wandering, Dionysus taught people across the regions how to cultivate wine. It’s curious or coincidence that even 6000 years ago in the mythology of the Greeks, wine was a significant part of Mount Olympus.
Wine in Greece dates back to 4500 BC and is considered to be the second oldest wine production in the world (central China being the oldest). Greek colonization of the area, along with the help of Dionysus of course, is thought to be the origination of wine across France, Italy and Spain. With all this history, it’s pretty amazing that the majority of Americans have zero experience with Greek wine.
Both wines reviewed are from the small island of Santorini in the Aegean. Santorini has a volcanic soil composition and enjoys hot summer days that are cooled in the evening by strong sea breeze. The Assyrtiko grape in this review is a hearty multi-purpose grape that can be crafted from dry to sweet and is similar in presentation to Riesling.
2008 Boutari Assyrtiko
- The Stuff: 100% Assyrtiko from the Santorini region; 13.5%abv; cork enclosure
- The Swirl: Very pale yellow in color; clean, clear and bright
- The Sniff: An appearance of sulfites strikes the nose along with a ripe cantaloupe and house cleaner. Something about the nose feels off-putting.
- The Sip: The Boutari has a mellow mouth coating feel that presents flavors of melon, red apple and stone. The finish is mild and crisp but then presents a slight sour aftertaste.
- The Score: A refreshing wine that is more deserving of food (fish, shrimp, or spicy fair). The acidity was lacking but at $15 I score this wine a solid 3 (out of 5) and would be a fantastic introduction to anyone wanting to experience something new.
2008 Argyros Assyrtiko
- The Stuff: 100% Assyrtiko from Santorini region; 20% aged in oak for 6 months; 13%abv; cork enclosure
- The Swirl: Very light in presentation, almost completely clear with mild hints of straw
- The Sniff: A tight nose that presents strong citrus components and hints of lime
- The Sip: Take a large pink grapefruit, squeeze the contents into a glass and add a spritz of lemon lime. This is what the Argyros presents. The acidity is strong and the finish is tart and steely…pucker up.
- The Score: A very crisp and refreshing wine that will be a strong addition to Mediterranean food pairings. At $15 this wine earns a score of 3+ out of 5.
Tags: Assyrtiko, Greek Wine, Wine Review
14 comments on “My First Trip to Greece for Wine”
Love this article as it comes following the New Wines of Greece event I attended in NYC last week. Tasted the two wines above and really enjoyed them. Also liked the 2009 Gaia Estate Assyrtiko: Rich honey and fruit notes without much sweetness. Refined, elegant wine that reminded me of a nicer white Burgundy.
Veronique – I was so bummed that I couldn’t make the event. Those damn day jobs get in the way too much. Being in NYC and knowing that you and Constance were there was killing me! Hope to meet you some day!
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How fun, makes me want to go back to Greece even more! Cool history and interesting wines, but I bet they would have scored a 5 out of 5 if you were drinking them in a little cafe on the island of Crete…
Greece is probably the top destination for overseas travel that my wife and I have (ahead of France even)! So jealous that you’ve been there.
Congrats on your Wine Blog Award nomination.
Assyrtiko is indeed a varietal that is capable of producing true terroir wines. Santorini is one of the hottest vine growing regions in the world. As always, not every single producer is worth seeking out, but the best are capable of drafting stunningly complex wines. It is great that such a widely read blogger like you looks into some wines from Greece, kudos.
If you ever visit with your wife, hit me up – would love to take care of you!
Markus, I would love to take you up on that offer. Maybe the Greek Wine commission could bring me over. 😉
I have to say that I really enjoyed the Agryros Assrytiko. I would definitely buy it and serve it at my table.
Jake, I’m in agreement that the Agryros was a more intense wine that would pair well with mediterranean food. I encourage you to make some and invite me over. 😉
You know I will! Do you like lamb?
It always amazes me that Greek Wines do not fetch more money at auction. Greece has been producing wines just as long, if not longer, than the French, but yet France dominates the wine auction market.