Terroir At The Edge Of The World (In The Vineyards of Santorini)

Vinted on July 15, 2010 binned in on the road

Peering out across the ancient caldera into the Agean from just about any spot on top of the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, you could be forgiven for mistaking the place for the edge of the world.

And when I say “beautiful” I don’t mean beautiful in the “my backyard garden is beautiful” sense of the word; I mean beautiful in the “top ten most beautiful places on planet Earth” kind of beautiful. It might be the edge of the world, but after spending any appreciable amount of time on this one big photo-op of a rock, you might also be forgiven for literally treating as the world’s edge, in so far as never wanting to travel any farther ever again.

If you’d been here in Minoan times, it very well may have seemed like the end of the world, if not its edge.

It was during this time, some 3,600 years ago, that the caldera as we know it today – possibly the world’s largest, stretching some 18 kilometers – was largely formed, the result of an eruption so massive that it has been linked to the sinking of Atlantis and the parting of the Red/Reed Sea during Moses’ flight from Egypt.

The resulting spew of earth and volcanic matter covered Santorini in almost 50 meters of volcanic rock and ash; for a few hundred years afterward, nothing could live there.

The effects of that massive and violent eruption are still felt today – they are directly responsible for the uniqueness and potential of Santorini’s wine.

Of course, you could get a similar overview from a history book, brochure, or Wikipedia; the difference here being that I spent several days on Santorini last week, walked those stony, ashy vineyards, and tasted my way through the direct impact of the islands soil and climate…

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1WineDude TV Episode 14: Greece is the Word

Vinted on July 13, 2010 binned in 1WineDude TV, interviews, on the road

In which Joe conducts a brief interview with Paris Sigalas, winemaker at Santorini’s Domaine Sigalas, and with the help of their eonologist attempts to translate the term “kick-ass” into Greek.

For more Greece in images, check out the photos – non-lazy (i.e., for me, written) coverage is in the works:





Don’t Bogart That Sip: Should Sommeliers Taste Your Wine Purchase?

Vinted on July 12, 2010 binned in commentary

Last week, I was quoted in a very interesting article by Eric Asimov in the New York Times, based on a conversation that Eric and I had about restaurant sommeliers taking a small sip of their customers’ wines to ensure that they are sound prior to being served.

Many of you out there (at least, the ones who sent me all of the e-mail) were surprised that I hadn’t encountered the practice before.  Based on those e-mails (the ones in which I wasn’t called an idiot, anyway), the practice seems much more common for patrons in Europe than for those of us here Stateside.

Also, for those readers I should note that I’m a born-and-bred Mid-Atlantic U.S. boy, which means I’m naturally suspicious and pissed off until you do something nice for me, after which I’m convinced that it’s a ruse plotted to rip me off somehow and I’m really pissed-off at you.

Anyway, my quotes were (of course) part of a longer conversation that Eric understandably didn’t include in full in the article; so I thought the topic worth revisiting so I could expand a bit on the view I represented in that conversation…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-07-10

Vinted on July 10, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 08 Boutari Kallisti Reserve (Santorini): Smokey, hazlenut vanilla goodness with an acid blast to rock your next scallop dinner. €15 B+ #
  • 06 Boutari Vinsanto (Santorini): A bit too cloying & unbalanced even for this sweet tooth, but those who dig caramel syrup will enjoy €17 B- #
  • 09 Boutari Assyrtiko (Santorini): A fair amount of heft, citrus, & astringency. And by "fair amount," I really mean "maybe too much." €9 C+ #
  • 02 Boutari Kallisti Reserve (Santorini): Like an unsweetened honey-lemon cookie w/ oregano sprinkled on top. But in a totally good way. B+ #
  • 09 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko (Santorini): Pure & clean grapefruit & citrus flower goodness, all deftly balanced & screaming for seafood. B #
  • 09 Domaine Sigalas Barrel Assyrtiko (Santorini): Peaches & cream, lemons & flowers, decent & tasty. Still in diapers,w/ a long life ahead B+ #
  • 04 Domaine Sigalas Vinsanto (Santorini): You'll forgive the syrupy-ness for the toffee, honey, orange zest, sultana & general "kick-ass." A- #
  • 09 Argyros Assyrtiko (Santorini): Like a well-written witty movie dialog between Ms. bracing acidity & Mr. oaky mellowness. $20 B+ #
  • 07 Argyros Mavotragano (Santorini): Brambly dark cherry & tough tannic bite make it interesting. Too bad they won't make much of it. $24 B- #
  • 89 Argyros Vinsanto (Santorini): Phenomenal. Brandy, toffee, caramel, roasted nuts, sultana & espresso that you could sniff for days $100 A- #
  • 09 Koutsoyannopolous Assyrtiko (Santorini): Good acidity doesn't make up for subdued fruit & a boozy edge. Oh, what might have been. C #
  • 07 Koutsoyannopolous Abellones (Santorini): Red blend that delives berry cobbler, a nice mouthfeel & (alas) artificial cherry action. B- #
  • 06 Koutsoyannopolous Vinsanto (Santorini): The caramel is achingly sweet, but raisin, prune & toffee await the brave of teeth. B+ #
  • 09 San..Torini Winery Assyrtiko (Santorini): Crisp & approachably "international" in style. Only serious citrus lovers need apply. $22 B #
  • 08 San..Torini Winery Nykteri (Santorini): Assyrtiko that's seen barrel for nutty richness, somewhat at the expense of better balance. B- #
  • 05 San..Torini Winery Vinsanto (Santorini): Vicsous & lucious, with a superb mouthfeel that makes up for wily V.A. peeking out its head. B+ #
  • 07 Canava Roussos Nykteri (Santorini): Apparently they wanted to kill their lemony Assyrtiko with booze and oak, and they almost succeeded C #
  • 04 Canava Roussos Caldera (Santorini): Deep dark & spicy red fruits that honor its island home's deep, dark & hot volcanic namesake. B+ #
  • 99 Canava Roussos Vinsanto (Santorini): You just might mistake it for a sweet PX; a really, really, really damn good sweet PX, that is. A- #
  • 02 Canava Roussos Mavrathino (Santorini): You might not think that liquid fig pudding is a very good thing. In this case, you'd be wrong. B+ #

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