Among Greece’s most popular grape varieties, Assyrtiko wine grape is grown on the island of Santorini. It is also planted on other regions like Chalkidiki.
It is a white wine grape variety. About 70% area of Santorini is covered with Assyrtiko grape plantation. It is known as Assirtico, Asurtico or Arcytico in many regions.
Santorini is a volcanic island and hence there is no risk of phylloxera (an insect which destroys the roots of the grapes) attacking the vines.
They are grown is crowns shaket in the form of baskets. Thalassitis is a wine which is popularly produced from the Assyrtiko grape.
After plucking of the buds, Assyrtiko grapes are kept at 10ºC for 12 hours for skin contact process. It is then transferred into INOX tanks or in American barrels.
They are barrel-ages for at least 2 years. The temperature is allowed to increase naturally. At the end of fermentation, each barrel is checked by experts for taste and only those barrels are approved which result in the exact expected taste.
Only the barrels, which are approved are bottled and sold in the market. Each barrel surprisingly gives different taste which has led to the creation of different sub-varieties of wines. Assyrtiko grape is considered to be the noble grape of the region.
Origin of Assyrtiko
Where did Assyrtiko originate, who planted it first, and how was it selected as a blessed blend for wines, is all unknown. In the year 2000, Assyrtiko was not available in many parts and wasn’t even available to everyone, but now it is available in almost all parts of the country.
Very few grapes are able to make this kind of a position in the world market and Assyrtiko has definitely made a place in the hearts of many winemakers as well as wine tasters.
Whether the wine is dry or sweet, this grape is a major ingredient.
These wines are floral as well as perfumed. Assyrtiko grape is oxidation susceptible.
Winemakers use techniques to control the oxidation level and darker wines are created from coffee, chocolate and fig characteristics.
It is also used in the making of dry wines, which are yellow-gold coloured and have apple, citrus, pear and mineral flavours and aromas.
When aged for more than 2-3 years, the mineral flavour will subside and new flavours of fruits and honey will envelop. These wines also have a long and an evolving aftertaste.
Such high quality features and such prime taste are not found in every grape variety which makes it a very precious plantation in the Greek wine making. Experiments are being done continuously to create more wines from this variety.
Assyrtiko grape wines are paired well with fried haloumi cheese. They can also be enjoyed with Korean dishes like, Korean pancakes.
This wine is complimentary with all of the Greek cuisines. This wine is best taken with anything briny or salty. Cauliflower puree with olives, raisins and capers enhances its taste greatly.
Sushi is another food item which goes with this wine variety. Salted pine nuts and olive salad can also be served.
It is among the most famous wines of Greece. The ones who get a chance to visit the country much surely try this wine variety to enjoy the evergreen flavour of Assyrtiko wine grape!
Or you can order the wine as it is readily available in almost all parts of the world.
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂