Assyrtiko - Discover Greek White Wine
‘Assyrtiko is to Greece what Albariño is to Spain or Grüner Veltliner is to Austria,’ - Joanna Simon, DECANTER
The Greek white wine Assyrtiko [pronounced: A seer' tee ko] is without a doubt one of the more remarkable wine discoveries we have had the pleasure of encountering recently.
Greek wine, unfortunately, conjures up in many Australian wine lovers minds those terrible cheap bottles of Retsina that are sold in supermarket chains. This is so unfair. The reality is 20 years ago a man named Douglas Lamb starting importing high quality tiny Greek producers and sharing them with Sommeliers in Sydney and Melbourne. It was not long after that Greek wines starting to pop up on the lists in quality wine bars and restaurants, during a period of creative expansion in the Australian wine industry.
The names of the Greek grape were sometimes hard to pronounce like Assyrtiko, Malagousia, and Agiorgitiko, and it seemed the mission was to spread education and awareness for what this ancient wine culture was capable of achieving through the hard work and progressive thinking of small Greek artisan producers.
Even recently we had a Krima Gerovassiliou Malagousia on pour at our wine bar which pretty well blew everyone away, at least those willing to expand their wine horizons and try it. It is a beautiful white wine!
But back to the white grape Assyrtiko. The spiritual home for the grape is on the Greek islands, namely the island of Santorini with its fabled volcanic soils, but it can also be found on the mainland in the Peloponnese, especially around the coastal town of Monemvasia.
Assyrtiko is known for its pretty floral and piercing lemony fruit, striking minerality, saltiness like Chablis, and refreshing high natural acidity, the quintessential grilled octopus or calamari accompaniment. More recently it has been planted in Australia with Jim Barry wines leading the charge. Quite frankly we believe that the Jim Barry wines Assyrtiko is one of the best dry whites in our store, period, and urge everyone to try it.
As far as winemaking goes modern Assyrtiko usually doesn’t see a lot of oak but aging on lees is common to achieve no doubt texture and mouthfeel, perhaps taming some of that high acidity. Assyrtiko wines are usually bone dry.
Personally, I couldn’t think of a better more refreshing white wine to drink in our warm Australian summers. Move over Sauvignon Blanc, Assyrtiko is on the rise
Lovely floral and lemony fruit on the nose with whiffs of ginger spice usher in a gently textural palate showing brisk citrus flavours and some light tropical notes. It’s energetic and fresh with persistent mineral notes through the finish. Acidity is naturally high, but some winemaking input seems to have kept it in check. Lovely dry white. CR
This is strikingly good. Leaps from the glass with notes of white flowers, crushed stone, pure lemon blossom and chalky lime. Certainly early picked at 12 % Alc, the palate is light-bodied with a subtle silky mouthfeel, otherwise, it’s super refreshing with piercing lemony fruit infused with salty flinty dry minerals. I think it is definitely destined for our wine bar. So good! CR