Carefully selecting a bottle of wine for a special occasion can at times be more rewarding than actually sipping it. I spent some time yesterday in my wine cellar, picking up various bottles, contemplating if any of these wines would match my particular mood. It was my 46th birthday, and I was looking for a wine that might not only be enjoyable, but special and engaging, without any pretention, rather simply mirroring its own character.
A Greek wine from my birth year was out of question, as few wines were bottled in Greece at that time. I sorted through some older vintages of Xinomavro, but for once I was looking for a different variety. Suddenly, my eyes focused on a bottle of Assyrtiko, a 1989 Boutari Kallisti, the maiden vintage of a barrel fermented version of this great grape. I became curious at once, and felt drawn towards this wine. Perhaps the fact that this bottle was exactly half my own age played a role, maybe the warm and sunny afternoon outside was impacting my verdict. Whatever the deciding factor was, my choice was made at this very moment.
Later, in the evening hours, I poured myself a glass. The wine had a lovely medium golden, honey colour, with some orange tinges. The aromas were right there, dominated by roasted nuts and caramel notes. The palate was quite expressive, medium to full bodied, with a lively and ever so vibrant acidity. The texture was nearly silky, the finish focused, with a backbone of citrus fruit.
This is a curious wine that has begun the journey past its plateau some time ago, yet the acidity keeps it very much alive. Have I enjoyed “better” Assyrtikos? Yes, without any doubt. The wine itself was not perfect in its qualities, but I doubt that I could have found a better partner for the occasion. In this sense, it was the perfect match. And this counts a lot in my book!