ON THE MORNING OF MARCH 22, producers from the island of Santorini were welcomed to Manhattan with weather suggestive of the region’s unique climate—a dense morning fog leading to bright sunny skies—as they presented their wines to wine trade and media professionals at the third annual Wines from Santorini tasting.
Held at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel, the event kicked off with a tasting and discussion of the island’s hallmark grape and its deserved place on the table. Writer Jordan Mackay led panelists Paul Grieco of Hearth Restaurant and Terroir Wine Bars, Michael Madrigale of Bar Boulud & Boulud Sud, Tom Pastuzsak of the Nomad Hotel, Athina Tsoli of Karamolegos Winery and Sofia Perpera of All About Greek Wine in a conversation about the Santorini vineyard and Assyrtiko’s unique attributes.
Mackay called them “one of the most singular and distinctive wines that exist,” noting Santorini’s crisp, minerality results from its terroir—one of the driest, most windswept volcanic landscapes in the world. The grape was showcased in flights of stainless-steel fermented, barrel-aged and Vinsanto, the fine sweet wine produced from sun-dried grapes. Speaking of his personal passion, Madrigale said, “these wines needed recognition: It is my duty as a sommelier to expose people to them because they have personality and speak of where they come from.”
The wines showcased in the first two flights included the 2011 vintage, noted for its more than usual aromatic wines, exceptional minerality and acidity, thanks to consistent grape maturation during the unusually cool summer.
Also featured: the 2010, 2009, and 2007 vintages, presented as age-worthy and food-friendly as paired with Kumamoto oyster, steak tartare, and roasted shitake mushroom stuffed with crab.
Sofia Perpera led guests through a historical perspective on the Santorini Nykteris as well as the “real” Vinsanto from 1989, 2000, 2004 and 2006 vintages, tasted alone and paired with pistachio semifreddo.
The seminar was followed by a walk-around tasting featuring a range of wines from the Santorini wineries. In attendance from Santorini were Haridimos Hatzidakis, George Koutsoyiannopoulos and George Gavalas; Agape Roussos, Athina Tsioli, Christina Boutari, Stela Kasiola and Xara Mavromati.