Assyrtiko is a white grape variety grown mainly on the island of Santorini and it is the source of the premium quality wines of the island that can age for decades. Assyrtiko is also grown on other Aegean islands as well as on the Greek mainland, ranging from the northern parts of Macedonia and Central Greece to further south in Peloponnese – basically due to its ability to maintain its acidity even in hot climates.
A typical Assyrtiko from Santorini gives fresh and really powerful, full-bodied wines with acidity levels among the highest that can be found. It is lightly aromatic, reminding aromas of citrus fruits – like lemon, lime and grapefruit. It also has a distinctive and profound minerality which is attributed to the volcanic soils of the island. It is usually blended with Athiri and Aidani grape varieties in order to become softer. Although Assyrtiko’s pure character is revealed by the variety’s un-oaked versions, oaked versions can also be frequently encountered. Assyrtiko wines outside the island are also powerful, although they tend to be fruitier and less mineral compared to those of Santorini. Assyrtiko is also behind the production of the great sweet Vinsanto wines.
Food pairing of Assyrtiko wines is inevitably driven by the high acidity of the variety. It is ideal with oysters, seafood, and fatty fish as well with lemon dishes.