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MWG September 13th tasting: report (1/3)

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Mo’ Wine Group members weren’t keen on tasting through the September Cellier releases. What’s more, due to schedule conflicts (vacation travel, work travel, parent-teacher meetings, looming publication deadlines and the like), we couldn’t put together a full house, a first in the group’s nearly seven-year history. I was ready to cancel but one member suggested we gather for a small-scale tasting with food. Enough people were interested, so it happened.

We began with a flight of Assyrtikos from Santorini.

Santorini 2011, Assyrtiko sélectionné, Hatzidakis ($29.75, oenopole, NLA)
Made to the specifications of Paris-based agency Oenos Fruit Pierre Lumière and distributed mainly in France, this blend of selected lots from four vineyards is fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks and aged in used barrels. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with minimal sulphur dioxide. About 1,500 bottles made. 13.5% ABV.
Electrum to the eye. My first words on tasting this were “crystal palace.” An array of minerals, from chalk to quartz, wrapped around a lemony core, electrified by acidity, sparked by a spritzy, zesty tingle and slow-fading into a long, saline finish. Bone dry and ideally dimensioned. Simply superb and easily the most dazzling Santorini I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Moot but, yes, by the case.)

Santorini 2008, Vieilles vignes, Mylos, Hatzidakis ($35.50 in March 2011, oenopole, NLA)
Sourced from a single vineyard, the highest on the island. The old vines – ungrafted like all Santorini grape vines – average 150 to 300 years old. Half is vinified in stainless steel, the other half in casks. Fermented and aged longer than the Assyrtiko sélectionné but bottled identically. About 2,000 bottles made. 15% ABV.
Clear bronze. Far richer than the Sélectionné, the minerals – here more stony than crystalline – are joined by peach, brine and a hint of burnt rubber. Unctuous, extracted, powerful yet balanced, the alcohol felt but not tasted. Mouth-filling yet maintaining a sense of proportion. A wine to contend with and one that demands to be consumed with food. (Buy again? Yes, though maybe not if the 2009 were around.)

Santorini 2009, Vieilles vignes, Mylos, Hatzidakis ($36.50, oenopole, NLA)
Same technical info as for the 2008. 14.5% ABV.
Pale gold. Appealing nose: quartzy, toasty lemon and marjoram. Bone dry. Crystalline texture and vibrant acidity cushioned by the rich extract. Intermingling lemon pith, white fruit and minerals. Long finish that brings to mind linden tea and rocky seacoasts. Splits the difference between the Sélectionné and the 2008 Mylos. A beautiful geode of a wine. (Buy again? If only I could.)

Santorini 2010, Assyrtiko, Argyros ($21.15, 11639344)
100% Assyrtiko from 50- to 60-year-old vines. Fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel. 13.2% ABV.
Almost transparent. Lemon bright and fluid though, next to the Hatzidakis wines, it seems less taut and tense than the bottle tasted in June. Long crystalline and briny finish. The best Assyrtiko available at the SAQ. (Buy again? Yes.)

The wines were tasted on their own and then with food. As always, they proved an ideal pairing for oysters on the half shell (ours were garnished with lemon juice, fresh oregano leaves and white pepper). The wines’ minerality and high acidity meant they were unfazed by a tomato and red onion salad with feta. And while arguably too classy for taramosalata, tzatziki and dolmades, the pairing didn’t do them any disfavours. Though we didn’t try it, an intriguing match recommended by oenopole’s Theo Diamantis, who knows a thing or two about Greek wine and food, is the Mylos with lamb.

Written by carswell

October 16, 2012 at 13:23

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