Santorini – wine tasting

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The wonder of wine

Santorini – a special Greek island

Making wine is a very old tradition in Santorini. There is a lot of sun here but not much water so yields are quite low. This means it was always going to be a bit of a cottage industry. Very little of Santorini’s wine is exported, and although some goes to the US and Italy, none goes to the UK.

If you want to drink Santorini wine it at home you must buy it here! Wrap it in your beach towel, and pack it well as you will not find a bottle in Tesco upon your return.

Santorini is known in particular for its white wines. The volcanic soil gives the dry wine quite a specific flinty, clean taste. In particular, it is famous for its sweet dessert wine Vinsanto. Most wines in the New World come from grafts of vines originally from Europe.

Greece by contrast, has its own original grape varieties which you will not find anywhere else. Varieties like Asyritico, Aidayi, Athiri, Mandilaria and Mavrathiro. Great names. The vines here have never been infected with the deadly Philoxera fungus which has devastated many vineyards worldwide.

There are 13 wineries in Santorini. It was perhaps rather ambitious to try visit them all, as you get a bit squiffy after the first few multiple tastings.

Propped up by the wall.

Santorini – wonderful wine

We called in to visit Antonis Argiros at his art space winery/art gallery. His family has been making wine there since the 50’s and he only recently went over to modern technological methods.

The best wine in the world!

His explanatory dialogue of the history of his wine making business was quite hard to understand. I think it was English but was spoken at such speed and with such a pronounced Greek accent that it was more a kind of Grenglish.

It was clear however, that he was very proud of his August Reserve, which he announced as ‘probably the best wine in the world!’ His cat, Yamos, was less impressed however as he had not been fed yet and followed us round protesting loudly at being overlooked.

Where’s my dinner?

Santorini – Volcan wines

Next we called in to the wine museum at Volcan wines. A little themed attraction illustrated with home made dummies – all of whom looked a bit like bonfire night Guys – explained the various processes involved.

Lots of old wine presses are on display. Different designs crafted by the skilled carpenters of Santorini. Wine was traditionally made by stamping on the grapes in bare feet. This harvest was the only time the women were allowed out of their domestic sphere to join in the activity. It gave them the chance to maybe spot the boy from the village they would later marry. A kind of very early and incredibly limited

Wine was kept in animal skins and bottling was only introduced in the 1970’s.
Vinsanto is made from grapes that have been previously dried in the sun for two weeks and then further soaked and fermented. It is a very sweet dessert wine that tastes like fat raisins in a glass. It goes very well with chocolate apparently.

It’s a ding dong of a view

Picturesque Oia.

Next stop was Oia. We curled up the steep hill into the blue glass sky. Oia is a picture perfect Greek village, clinging to the cliff. Little white houses and boutique hotels layer into the sheer rock face.

Donkey taxi required

Everything here is quite small, wedged into the rocky space. The biggest view however is anything but small.

An incredible expanse of the darkest blue sea meets the brightest blue sky stretching out across the Caldera. The Caldera is the bay created from the volcano which erupted over 3,000 years ago.

Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta Jones have both enjoyed the charms of Oia as have thousands of Japanese tourists. They decant themselves daily from the large cruise liners in the bay. They love getting married here, and you see couples everywhere posing for photos and selfies. Weddings are everywhere!

Gorgeous gowns

Some Japanese models were showing off some beautiful dresses for some sort of advert no doubt.

Beautiful church in Oia