RESTAURANT & FOOD
Santorini reaps worthily the laurels of the most important wine-producing island of the Cyclades, if not of the whole of Greece. Its microclimate presents a lot of particularities: its volcanic terrain is a mixture of chalk, slate, coal, ash, lava and pumice. It is extremely dry during the summer when the grapes mature, with very high temperatures during the day. The island is being mercilessly beaten by the north winds- the "meltemia" - which prevent the accumulation of humidity on the grapes during daytime, but during the night temperatures drop, the climatic conditions become relatively humid, the volcanic terrain absorbs this humidity, thus feeding the grapes.
The result of this unique combination of climate and terrain is that the Santorini grapes mature fast and retain their acidity. Like everything else on the wind-swept Santorini, the vines are also unique. In order to protect the vines from the meltemia, the people of Santorini prune them in such a way that they look like a wreath within which the grapes grow
Varieties of white grapes:
Aidani. Indigenous variety of Santorini which is found on other Cycladic island as well. This white variety produces wines with a flower flavor, and an aroma resembling that of the jasmine.
Asyrtiko. This is found on all of the Cyclades, but mainly on Santorini and Paros. The grapes are characterized by a high level of acidity with high contents of sugar as well. It is this oxymoron which makes this particular variety very easy to use and produces wines covering the whole range from absolutely dry to sweet, like the Vinsanto of Santorini.
Athiri. Although this is not an exclusivity of the Cyclades, the variety of the athiri grapes is found all over the Aegean region. In the Cyclades, it is cultivated in Santorini and the wines deriving are aromatic with a lemon fragrance. Very often they are mixed with other types of grapes, particularly the Asyrtico.
Nychteri, Santorini. This is another, extremely traditional Santorini Wine. Nychteri is always white, produced almost exclusively from asyrtico. Occasionally, a combination of asyrtico, athiri and/or aidani is used. Nychteri is a representative, white, dry wine, produced on the island. Its name comes from the fact that it takes a whole day and part of the night to process the grapes. The collection of grapes takes place very early in the morning, whereas the process and the pressing are completed within the same day.
Varieties of red grapes:
Mandilari or Mandilaria. This variety gives the sub line red wine of Cyclades. It is probably one of the oldest varieties in Greece and many believe that its roots go back, without historical vacuums, in antiquity. The wine deriving from this variety has a tart taste with plenty of tannin. It is mixed with the white variety Monemvasia or Malvazia.
Some wines have been recognized as clearly local wines and have been awarded the title of Appellation of Origin. In Santorini it is the dry, white wine produced by the unique variety of the island, the Asyrtiko and the sweet Vinsanto of Santorini, produced with the combination of Asyrtico and Aidani.
Santorini is the richest in vine varieties, where, besides the famous Asyrtico, Athiri and Aidani, we find the very rare (white) Begleri, Mavromoschato, Rodomousi and Stavrochioti.
Brusco, Santorini. This is the traditional wine of Santorini. Its name comes from the Venetians who ruled the island from the 13th to the 16th century. The name brusco refers more to a general characteristic, rather than a particular wine. It can be white, made with asyrtica grapes, or red, made with mandilari, or by mixing both, in which case we have a rose wine. It is a strong wine containing 16-17% alcohol. This is achieved (independently from the grapes used) by allowing the grapes to ferment in their own skin, for a long period of time.
Vinsanto, Santorini. This is one of the finest sweet all over Greece. Its name is taken from the Italian Vivo Santo, meaning the wine of Holly Communion. Despite its Italian name, this red wine was produced on the island long before the Venetians stepped on it. The clusters of grapes are left intact, spread in the sun to dry. As the humidity is diminishing, the sugar increases, giving a rich dessert wine. Vinsanto is prepared by mixing asyrtico and aidani grapes.