One Greek wine that is stunningly complex, yet so delicious that most people will be immediately drawn to it, is VinSanto, the naturally sweet wine from the Island of Santorini.
It is made from a blend of the indigenous Assyrtiko and Aidani grapes. The grapes are left on the vine to reach high levels of ripeness. After the harvest, they are sun-dried for between 1 and 2 weeks, before being crushed and fermented. The sun drying concentrates the acidity, and this leads to a very noticeable freshness factor. After fermentation is complete, the wine has to be aged for a minimum of two years in oak by law, but many producers opt for a much longer time. VinSanto wines can be aged for many decades, if not for more than a century.
One of the very finest VinSantos is produced by the Domaine Sigalas. The vineyards are located in the northern part of the Island. The soil consists of fragments of black lava, volcanic ash and pumice, and the vines are more than 50 years old.
The 2003 vintage is still the latest release, it consists of a blend of 75% Assyrtiko and 25% Aidani. The yields per ha were between 5 and 7 hl. The harvest took place in early to mid August. The grapes were then dried in the sun for 10 to 12 days and the wine was matured in old oak barrels. The alcohol level is low, just 9%. The residual sugar of 300 gr/l is paired with an acidity level of 8.5 gr/l.
This wine has a dark amber colour with golden and orange shades. It shows very complex aromas of dried honeyed fruits, figs and orange peel. It is a rich and vibrant wine with refreshing acidity that cuts through the fruit and it tastes very fresh despite its sweetness. It has a succulent finish and a very long aftertaste. It is a treat with dark chocolate, dried fruits, or strong cheese.
I am a lover of sweet wines in general, but VinSanto is truly captivating. It is a shame that the sweet wines of Greece are mainly known for Mavrodaphne abroad.