Not an everyday household varietal but perhaps it should be! Firstly, this wine is indigenous to Santorini and was the wine of choice from 3500 BC to 1620 BC as the wine center in the Aegean Sea. In 1620 BC, one of the largest volcanic eruptions occurred in the last 10,000 years on Santorini. It covered the island in volcanic ash which provides a unique soil for Assyrtiko grapes to grow. Secondly, the pronunciation is “ase-ry-tiko”.
The island with its volcanic soil, the Assyrtiko vines can go down as far as 60 meters! This depth is one of the key components in giving this grape a minerality like no other grapes. Assyrtiko vines comprise 70% of the production wines of Santorini. Also some of the vines go 60-200 years in age. But perhaps one of the unique things is the training of vines in a circular basket/wreath formation. With the grapes growing on the inside, it provides shade from the hot summer sun and protects the grapes from the fierce winds of the island. The basket is called a “kouloura”.
The grape varietal is known besides its minerality, to have citrus, apple, honeysuckle, passion fruit, pear, lime and beeswax. This 2017 Flowers Assyrtiko which I tasted had the heavy presence of minerality, citrus, hint of lime and beeswax. This wine with high acid begs for oysters, salmon, trout, etc. Even shrimp and shell fish would do well. It was paired with pork roast with mango & apricot sauce and was quite tasty.