Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

oenopole workshop: picnic wines (4/4)

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Italians claim vin santo (aka vino santo) as their own invention. After all, they say, the name means holy wine. That no one can offer a convincing explanation of the wine’s holy connection is conveniently overlooked.

Greeks tell a different story. They claim the name is a contraction of vino di Santorini and that the style is basically copied from the Greek island’s legendary sweet wine that was first brought to the Italian peninsula by seafaring traders.

Despite the similarities – both wines are made from partially dried grapes, usually white – there are plenty of differences: different grape varieties, drying methods, maturation methods, ageing requirements and sweetness levels, with the Greek version almost always being quite sweet. The spelling of the name is also different: Italian vin santo, Greek vinsanto.

Vinsanto 1990, 20 years, Estate Argyros (NLA, though more may be on the way. When last sold at the SAQ, the price was $99 for a 500 ml bottle.)
A blend of Assyrtiko (80%), Aidani (10%) and Athiri (10%) from very old vines, some in excess of 150 years. The grapes are dried in the sun for 12 to 14 days, pressed, fermented with ambient yeasts and aged 15 years in old French oak barrels, two years in new French oak barrels and another three years in the bottle. 14% ABV.
Mahogany with orange glints. Complex nose of raisin, wet earth, nuts, orange zest, graphite and hints of vanilla and old wood. Though unctuous and sweet, not cloying due to the high acidity. The swirl of savoury fig, raisin and caramel flavours seems to last forever. There’s a category of wines with a special quality: you take a sip and time stops, the outside world disappears and, for a moment, only you and the wine exist. This falls into that select group. (Buy again? Would that I could.)
> A transporting delight with Hof Kelsten’s “Jewish biscotti,” a kind of mandelbrodt filled with walnuts and bitter chocolate and topped with a dollop of lemon-zested, sea-salted crème fraîche. The wine picked up the cookie’s walnuts and the cookie brought out the wine’s orange. Perfection.

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Written by carswell

May 13, 2014 at 11:12

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