£26.11–£34.85, Tannico, All About Wine, Hic!, Epinoia, Great Wines Direct, Drink Finder, Corking Wines
This is slightly outside the comfort-zone price for Wine of the Week, but it's a beauty and it's very hard, some would say impossible, to make a Santorini Assyrtiko that can be sold with any sort of profit margin for £20.
Assyrtiko wine from mainland Greece, yes, but not from this volcanic Aegean island, where cultivating grapes is labour intensive and yields are pitifully low. Quite simply, Santorini Assyrtiko is one of a kind.
I have written before about the island's extraordinary vines, so I'm concentrating on Gaia Thalassitis here, but do look at these photos and read more. The vines can be hundreds of years old, they're trained into circular basket shapes in volcanic soil that has virtually no organic matter or clay and the environment is exceptionally dry, saline and windy .
Thalassitis, an unoaked Assyrtiko made from 70–80 year old vines, is the winery's dry white standard-bearer. It's all about intensity, vivid freshness, lime, grapefruit, salty minerality and a smidgen of peach, complemented by crème fraiche textural richness (from bâtonnage – stirring of the lees in tank). Think of it as Chablis and then some.
It's a great wine with shellfish, grilled and fried fish, ceviche, crudités and salads, feta, olives and almost anything with salsa verde or lots of capers. It's also a good wine with green asparagus and one to try with globe artichokes dressed with vinaigrette (they are notoriously difficult with wine). 13%. Empty bottle weight: 592g.
Gaia Wines Santorini Assyrtiko 2022, Santorini, Greece
Many wine merchants are still on the 2021 vintage, which I haven't tasted, so I can't recommend it, but I can say that all the vintages I have tasted have been very good and it's a wine you can cellar happily for five years.