2020 Hatzidakis Winery, Assyrtiko, Cuvée No. 15, AOP Santorini, Greece.
The beautifully maturing and done dry, crisp and steely Cuvée No. 15, made from 100% Assyrtiko, is a striking golden/yellow in the glass and has tons of mineral, wet stone and tangy vitality, almost giving it a Riesling meets Falanghina like personality and is uniquely distinctive in character. Assyrtiko, like Arinto in Portugal, is a grape that famously keeps good acidity even in warm climates, making it well suited for the arid conditions of Santorini, set in the picturesque Aegean Sea, where some of the vines must be basket trained to protect them from the harsh breezes or wind. This nicely mature 2020 vintage shows off preserved citrus, white peach, quince and tart mango fruits, along with saline (salty) infused crushed rock, minty herbs, verbena and orange blossom. The striking medium bodied Cuvée No. 15 comes from two vineyards, Pyrgos and Emporio, and was fully de-stemed, but it saw 12 hours of cold maceration before being pressed to stainless steel vat for a very slow fermentation, sometimes going for close to 45 days. The wine’s aging is done exclusively in the stainless steel tank, spending about 6 months on the fine lees before bottling, which is unfiltered to preserve all the natural nuances. Hatzidakis is dedicated to native varietals and were the first to bottle monovarietal wines made from the rare Aidani and even rarer Mavrotragano grapes, both of which are almost never seen outside of Greece or Santorini even, making Hatzidakis a must for the adventurous wine enthusiast. The main estate vineyard at Hatzidakis is near to the historic monastery of “Profiti Ilias-Santorini” and It is up at close to 330 meters above sea level. Today, the Hatzidakis Winery, owns and sustainable farms about 10 hectares of vines and in fact most of them are fully organic, the Hatzidakis Winery is actually the only certified organic grower on the island. The style of the wines at Hatzidakis is focused on pure and powerful expressions, with an effort to move away from reductive winemaking, with the whites seeing some skin contact and lengthy fermentations, as this Assyrtiko showcasing that to near perfection.

One of the most prized and sought after wineries in Greece, Hatzidakis, founded by the late Haridimos Hatzidakis, who is originally from Crete and only came to Santorini after he graduated from, as the winery notes, the Wine and Beverages school in Athens where he studied agronomy and oenology. Haridimos began his wine career in 1991 when he took an internship at the huge J. Boutaris and Sons, which is like the Gallo of Greece, where he eventually became head oenologist at their Santorini winery. Keeping his connection to Crete he also oversaw the winemaking at the Fantaxometoho Estate on the island and began looking for the right opportunity to go out on his own and follow his dream of making small lot handcrafted wines. While still at Boutari Haridimos met his future wife, Konstantina Chryssou, who was originally from Santorini), and was working in the wine hospitality business, they got married in the mid nineties and shared a vision to bring something new to the Santorini wine scene. The couple started their own winery, Hatzidakis, in 1997 using Konstantina’s family’s vineyards, which were almost abandoned in the village of Pyrgos Kallistis, and the rest as they say is history as they produced award winning wine and award winning wine. Sadly, as noted, In the summer of 2017 Haridimos Hatzidkais died tragically, which left Hatzidakis in the hands of his three children, with Stella, looking to carry forward her father’s vision. Stella moved things forward expanding on the success of her father and now the winery has an all-female team of oenologists, or winemakers, that is headed up by Helena Alevra, who had worked with Haridimos back in 2008 and Stella Papadimitriou who worked with him too. Assyrtiko has many fans and Santorini has a host of great producers, including Hatzidakis, as well as some of my other favorites, Domaine Sigalas, Skouras and Santo Winery, plus the grape has now found its way to Australia, with Jim Barry in Clare being a star and Assyrtiko is finding a home in California, with Turley’s Tegan Passalaqua championing the grape in his own Sandlands label. I’ve had these terrific small batch Hatzidakis wines quite a few times, mostly for personal use, but this wine, which I tasted blind, is a thrilling example of grape and terroir.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

By admin