2018 Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece.
The renown Greek producer, Domaine Sigalas was founded in 1991 by Paris Sigalas, Christos Markozane and Yiannis Toundas and has been in family hands ever since and has become the standard of quality for Assyrtiko, the Greek isles signature white grape. Initially, Sigalas made his wine at the converted Sigalas family home, but according to their importer, Skurnik Wines, back in 1998 a new vinification, bottling and aging cellar was built in Oia, on the northern part of Santorini, which turned this winery from a small operation to a world class estate focused on the white wines of the region. Sigalas has been a pioneer in the organic viticulture on Santorini and has worked hard with the Greek government to push for strict certification and all sustainable practices and while traditional they use the latest in winemaking technology to create the freshest and purest Assyrtiko possible. Zest and vivid in character this wine does open to reveal a nice smooth leesy texture with layers of lemon/lime, white peach, quince and tropical fruits along with a striking mineral tone as well as a mouth watering saline note with a delicate floral sense and stony quality making for a white that can replace Muscadet, Sancerre, Albarino, Vermentino and or Gruner Veltliner on your table.
As mentioned, Sigalas concentrates on native grape varieties, working most closely with Assyrtiko, but also they have small plantings of Athiri, Aedani, Mandilaria and Mavrotragano. The grapes need to be trained close to the ground and wound in a circle to survive from the direct exposure of sun and strong winds, protected inside low-basket-shaped vines or “ampelies”, as they are called locally, referring to this unique pruning system. This Assyrtiko comes from vines located in Imerovigli, the sub-region of Oia Santorini, all Sigalas’s owned basket trained vines (Kouloura) that are on average 60 years old, and are tended in the classic black lava, volcanic ash and pumice soils. This elegant and cooly crisp white saw a fermentation and elevate in stainless steel tanks with controlled temperature with about 50% being free run juice using close 80% whole clusters that was slowly pressed and spent just 5 months on lees to preserve its zesty fresh detail. This is a great Indian Summer sipper and excellent with all sea food choices and a mix of cuisine from Morocco style Lemon Chicken and Couscous to briny oysters and or mussels in a spicy broth. Assyrtiko, like Vermentino and Gruner Veltliner, looks set for success in the new world, once only found in Greece, it is now doing well in Australia, especially Jim Barry’s beautiful example and I can imagine we’ll see a California version in the near future!
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive