Drinking to Greece’s Future


One of the great things about wine is that there is SO MUCH of it made all over the world, that if you were wanting to find a good reason to try something new, you can justify it in many, very creative ways.

Tonight’s excuse important reason for drinking wine, is that the Greek economy appears to be in a dreadful state, and they really could do with some more exports. So, right on cue, I decided to ride to their rescue and go to Waitrose to purchase the 2010 Santorini Assyrtiko from Hatzidakis.

Unfortunately, Greece needs something like €120 BILLION, and this bottle was only £8.24 (of which 40% goes to the UK government, and about 30% to John Lewis partners), but every little counts, right?

We really don’t drink enough Greek wine in this country, despite the vast numbers of us who go there and enjoy it on holiday. There is a great deal of wonderful wine made there, but because  consumers are conditioned to buy according to price and grape variety, it is hard to convince them to buy better wines from grapes such as Assyrtiko that they have never heard of.

This particular Greek is an intense and robust character. The first impression of this white wine is the colour. It is no pale imitation, and the golden, almost almond, colour suggests that we ought to be expecting something more from this experience. Which, it turns out, is in fact the case. My first impression, immediately after opening it, was quite “spirity”, in fact the first aromas reminded me of an orujo or a grappa, distilled spirits made from grapes. However, as it opened up, the smells also developed an attractive, ripe, tropical fruit character that reminded me very much of the dried mango snacks I have taken to munching on in my new “healthier” lifestyle (note, it does NOT exclude wine!) and a certain herbal note too.

The taste shows much of the same style – ripe tropical fruit, LOTS of acidity, a generous dollop of alcohol (the label says 14.5%) which also gives it a bigger, sweeter and oilier feeling in the mouth. However, it also has a layer of something more elegant and refined, a “minerality” I guess that gives it a fresh taste, a tingling on the back teeth that tells you that you’re drinking something with a bit of class.

I’ve had this wine before, and if I’m honest, I think I’d say I preferred the other vintages with lower alcohol and a lighter style, but maybe 2010 was a hotter vintage with riper grapes.

In any case, I remind myself that my own wine exploration, and a helping hand for the winemakers of Greece and their economy, can coexist in perfect harmony, so I should make a special effort to drink more Greek wine. I hope you consider doing the same.

  • Alice
    June 24, 2011

    This is a cracking wine I’ve enjoyed just for the sake of it until now. I really like the fact you’ve joined up a lovely drinking experience with a damn good humane reason.I think Eszencia Explorers and Gourmets could enjoy it equally well.Alice http://www.facebook.com/Eszencia

  • Tom Parnell
    June 25, 2011

    I used to enjoy the occasional Greek wine from Oddbins — and remember encountering some rather thrilling stuff. But it’s been a while now. On a whim I snaffled a cheapish bottle of Retsina at Sainsbury’s, the other week (one of the few ‘interesting’ wines I could find)…Anyhow, yes, I applaud your call to arms. Any situation in which I can tell myself I’m doing good by means of alcoholic consumption must be a winner.

  • alexandra corvo
    June 25, 2011

    even though Santorinis`s assytriko is the greatest expression of freshness and minerality of the region, it seems you had a great experience of a more mature and exhuberant style – which is still a different but interesting expression of what assyrtiko can be able do deliver. great blog. alexandra