Hatzi­dakis, As­syr­tiko

Decanter - - WINE DISCOVERY -

IT is EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY that some­where so hot can pro­duce wine with such singing, sting­ing min­er­al­ity and acid­ity, but that’s as­syr­tiko for you. it is one of the world’s great white grapes, yet un­til we all started to re­alise how amaz­ing greece’s in­dige­nous va­ri­eties are, you could hardly find a bot­tle of it any­where.

san­torini is of course a vol­cano, and vol­canic soils seem to give wines with a par­tic­u­lar en­ergy, a par­tic­u­lar spark­i­ness. The vines here are ex­tra­or­di­nary too: there’s a lo­cal train­ing sys­tem called koulara that winds the canes in a bas­ket, with the clus­ters on the in­side. ev­ery 50 years or so ev­ery­thing is cut back to the roots, and the vine starts again. This sys­tem of­fers pro­tec­tion to the grapes from the in­ces­sant wind; and there’s not much rain­fall, so dew and mist have to sus­tain the vines through the hot sum­mer. There’s no phyl­lox­era on the is­land so all the vines are un­grafted, and some are al­legedly 500 years old. What is more cer­tain is that many are over 100 years old. hatzi­dakis farms its vine­yards or­gan­i­cally and bio­dy­nam­i­cally, and the grapes ripen early at the be­gin­ning of au­gust.

This wine is the stan­dard as­syr­tiko; there is also as­syr­tiko de Louros, aged in old oak for greater weight and age­abil­ity, and sin­gle-vine­yard as­syr­tiko de My­los. Both are im­pres­sive, but i pre­fer the stan­dard bot­tling for its pu­rity, clar­ity and pre­ci­sion.

The wine is sub­stan­tial, savoury, with keen acid­ity, and or­ange peel and flo­ral notes, salti­ness and an un­mis­take­able tan­nic edge. it’s en­er­getic, con­cen­trated and vi­brant: a struc­tured, sinewy wine from a unique and dif­fi­cult place.

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