March 1, 2017 Eugenia Papadopoulou

Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy

wine

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”

Benjamin Franklin

Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.The origins of wine-making in Greece go back 6,500 yearsas the numerous archeological discoveries throughout Greece have revealed.

 

Wine has always been that important to Greeks that they “created” and worshiped Dionysus,the son of Zeus and Semeli.Even Hippocrates used wine for medicinal purposes and readily prescribed it. As Greeks were travelling and setting colonies they introduced  the vines and winemaking techniques to their colonies in Italy and Sicily around the 8th century BC and later in France and Spain.

During the Byzantine years the viticultural tradition continued to flourish and was reinforced as the Orthodox Christianity was closely associated with the consumption of wine, especially during the religious ceremonies when wine was actually believed to become transformed into the blood of Christ. “Ego eimi I ampelos” meaning “I am the vine” is one of numerous religious wine references to Christ found in ancient frescos and religious icons.

In recent years,  the vinescape is changing rapidly as the Greek wine industry has undergone enormous improvement with serious investments in modern wine making technology. The new generation of native winemakers is being trained in the best wine schools around the world and their efforts are paying off as Greek wines continue to receive the highest awards in international competitions as well as the recognition they deserve throughout the world.What makes Greek wine so unique are the more than 300 indigenous grape varieties grown in our country. At the top of the list of wine lovers has always stood the unique Santorini wines.

But what makes the Santorini among the top wine destinations and its wine so unique?

First of all Santorinisdistinctive landscapes and culture. The dramatic and breathtaking views that we enjoy today is the result of a devasting volcanic eruption, the Minoan one, circa 1620 aC, that covered the island with volcanic ash, lava and pumice stone. This catastrophe created the foundation for perfect soil conditions which now produce very distinctive wines.

A special and unique way of vine pruning is the one developed on Santorini, known as the Santorini “kouloura”, or “wreath” or “basket”. Ou have to imagine that the grapes grow sheltered within their “woven” baskets, protected by the strong winds which gather momentum especially in spring when budding begins, the scorching summertime sun, the volcanic sand which lashes the vines as it is carried away and swirled around by the wind and by the Lack of water and moisture (with the exception of the nocturnal sea mist). This way the grapes are protected and mature safely maintaining original flavor and aroma as the acidity, high-quality wines agent.Assyrtiko: the essence of the Greek islands in a bottle

Through the practice of many generations, wineries in this region have been able to perfect extraordinary crisp white wines and sweet dessert wines. The king of the numerous vine varieties cultivated on Santorini, the predominant variety that qualifies for the production of the wines with the Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality is Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko is probably Greece’s finest multi-purpose white grape variety and it was first cultivated on Santorini, where it has developed a unique character. It has the ability to preserve its acidity while keeping a high alcoholic content. Resistant to humid conditions and to most common vine diseases, it is easily adapted to the different microclimates across the land. Other famous white grape varieties that give not only extraordinary crisp white wines but also sweet dessert wines are Athiri and Aidani.

Vinsanto: the sun -dried grapes dessert wine.

Around the last days of August a careful eye will notice grapes laying on nets at the roofs of the houses. This is just the first part of the delicate, long and costly procedure in the production of Vinsanto, the sweet “vin liastos” of PDO Santorini. 8-12 days later, the grapes have lost a considerable amount of their water and each precious fiber of their characteristics has been concentrated before undergoing a long and slow fermentation. They are then barrel-aged for several years, and the wine will typically take on darker, amber colors.

Will you miss the chance to experience the products of one of the most ancient vineyards all over the world?It is quite possible that some of the vine varieties grown today are the same as those experienced by participants in classical symposia  And as it is said “ wine is bottled poetry”  Ya mas!

Lots of love,

Eugenia, your Santorini guide :-)

 

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