Estate Argyros was established in 1903 on the island of Santorini and today is run by fourth generation winemaker Matthew Argyros. The estate consists of 120 hectares with vines averaging 70 years old, all of which are ungrafted (original rootstock) thanks to the island’s inorganic soil providing immunity to Phylloxera. All vineyards are planted to indigenous varieties of Santorini, including Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Mavrotragano. Argyros farms their vineyards organically under sustainable guidelines, using no pesticides and only grape skins and stems following harvest as compost. All harvesting is accomplished by hand and winemaking is very traditional, yielding wines that are transparent representations of their very unique and difficult terroir.
Today’s Wine: 2018 Assyrtiko
100% Assyrtiko; 13.5% ABV
The 2018 Assyrtiko is transparent pale gold/yellow in color with water white variation near the rim. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of lemon and lime zest, green apple skins, white lily, damp grass, saline mineral, flint, and light smoke. On the palate, the wine displays notes of lime, grapefruit, lemongrass, peach, sea salt, volcanic minerality, and chalk. This is light- to medium-bodied and bone dry with high acidity into a crisp and refreshing finish. The fruit is sourced from 100-120 year old ungrafted vines and fermented in stainless steel vats.
Price: $30. This is a solid value for its quality, and it’s also a fun wine to try because I hadn’t had any Assyrtiko before. Pair this with oysters, sushi, or salad with grilled chicken.
For several generations, the Thymiopoulos family has owned vineyards in Naoussa, though they typically sold the fruit to other wineries without making their own wine. This changed, however, when Apostolos Thymiopoulos completed his oenology program at the University of Athens and returned to the family vineyards to produce a wine under his own label. Thymiopoulos Vineyards was born and their first wine released in 2004, becoming a successful bottling throughout both Greece and Europe as a whole.
Like many producers in the Old World, Apostolos farms his vineyards in a very traditional manner. He limits or does away with chemical use and many of his practices fall under biodynamic farming norms. Apparently, Apostolos even borrows his neighbors’ cows to mow the grass after harvest in the vineyards (source). Apostolos owns several dozen vineyards, and in order to help care for them all he enlists people from his village with vineyard experience for help. This allows him to foster a unique bond within his community, as well as provides him the opportunity to know each vineyard like the back of his hand.
This wine came recommended to me thanks to one of the owners of a local wine store. In appearance, the wine is a clear, pale ruby color. The nose on this wine is an absolute thing of beauty, one so aromatic and crisp I felt like I got slapped in the face (but in a good way). Right out of the gates I got aromas of cherry, strawberry jam, very clean florals reminiscent of red rose and white wildflower, cedar, leather, mild and slightly sweet tobacco, and a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth, the wine showcases notes of sour cherry, wild strawberry, home-garden-grown cherry tomatoes, rocky-soil-esque minerality, faint vanilla, and a touch of oak. The wine is overall very dry and is medium-bodied with mouthwatering high acidity, medium tannins, and a very long finish. This is drinking beautifully (and is one of my favorite wines in recent past) but I really want to try it again in three years.
Price: $35. I’ve only had a couple Greek wines so far, but this is a screaming value. The nuances and absolute shock I received from the profoundly beautiful bouquet of aromas says it all. Pair this with chicken, pork, or cheese-based pastas.