Description 1 of 2

Assyrtiko is a white Greek wine grape indigenous to the island of Santorini. Assyrtiko is the most widely planted on Santorini, an island known forarid volcanic-ash-rich soils, harsh winds and hot temperatures. 

Santorini is a classified region of Europe under PDO Santorini. They island is known for it's Santori wine made of 100% Assyrtiko, Nykteri wines made of 75% or more Assyrtiko and the remaining percentage deriving from Aidani and Athiri and the sweet Vinsanto made up of 51%+ Assyrtiko with the remaning percentage deriving from Aidani and Athiri as well as other local varieties. Assyrtiko is often referred to as a white wine with a red wine's character due to it's full body and weight. Assyrtiko is a large-clustered, thin-skinned white grape that can be vinified dry to sweet. Dry wines are generally intensely mineral, high acid, full of citrus making this perfect company for a variety of foods, particularly grilled seafoods.

Vinsanto is a particularly important wine to the island due to it's history. It is a sweet wine created from grapes that were dried in the sun after harvest. After pressing, the wines are aged for several years in oak barrels and then in bottle. Although the residual sugar is high, Vinsanto is not an overpoweringly sweet dessert wine. Due to the acidity in the grapes the wine remains balanced, full of dried fruit, nut, caramel and honey notes.

Due to the fact the island has no clay in its soils, Assyrtiko has not been affected by phylloxera in the past. In fact, many of the roots found on Santorini can be up to centuries old due the kouloura. A vine is cut from its roots after about 70 years at which time a new vine is grafted onto the old rootstock. Throughout its lifespan, the vine is coiled into a basket which helps protect the grapes from the harsh sun and winds found on the island.

Assyrtiko can also be found in various places throughout the rest of Greece including the island of Paros and some mainland areas as well as in other parts of the world who have recently begun planting the grape experimentally.

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Description 2 of 2

Name of varietal: Assyrtiko

Common synonyms: just derivations and different spellings such as Assirtico

Parentage of the grape: indigenous to Santorini, Greece

History of the grape: Assyrtiko (or one of its many spellings) is believed to be indigenous to the Greek Island of Santorini, where it has been cultivated for centuries, though it is also planted to a lesser degree on other islands and the mainland. It’s a versatile white grape, usually blended for its dry, acidic profile (the most popular blending partners are Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon). It’s most famous role is as part of the blend in Retsina wines (flavored with pine resin) with the Savatiano grape. It is also found in the Greek version of Vin Santo dessert wine.

Characteristics of the grape: very dry, acidic, medium-bodied, lemon, lemon zest, with salty notes

Regions where the grape is currently important: Santorini, other Greek islands and the mainland; reports of experimental plantings in Clare Valley, Australia

Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry white, Retsina, Vin Santo

– Description from Amanda Schuster

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