Description to P.D.O. Santorini (O.P.A.P.) / Σαντορίνη
The approximately 90 square kilometre Greek archipelago (also known as Sandorini or Santorini) is the southernmost of the Cyclades group and is located in the Aegean Sea about 100 kilometres north of Crete. The crescent-shaped main island is called Thira and forms a cauldron with the two small islands Aspronisi (0.14 km²) and Thirasia (9 km²) opposite. The ring-shaped island was formed by a huge volcanic explosion around 1500 BC, which destroyed the Minoan culture (Bronze Age culture of Crete). At the beginning of the 13th to the end of the 16th century, the island was strongly under the influence of Venice, which led to the development of an important winegrowing culture. At that time it received the name Santorini after Santa Irene (St. Irene). Especially the sweet wines with a high alcohol content were highly appreciated because of their storage and transportability. At that time they were shipped to many European countries via the port city of Monemvasia (Peloponnese). Although the island was conquered by the Turks in 1579, there were no restrictions on wine growing. The Ottoman rule lasted until the Greek revolution in 1821.
The summer is warm, dry and almost rainless, the winter mild with few but heavy rainfalls. Around 1950 there were still 4,800 hectares of vineyards, but due to the building boom these have shrunk to around 1,200 hectares. About 30 autochthonous grape varieties are cultivated on mainly volcanic soil that is ideal for viticulture. The porous soil has a good water storage capacity. Numerous canavas (caves) have been created in the soft material, which are often used as wine cellars. The vines are grown with their roots intact because the island has been spared from phylloxera. White wine varieties are cultivated to 80%. Assyrtiko dominates with 90%, followed by Aïdani Aspro and Athiri Aspro. These three are authorised for POP wines. The main red wine varieties are Mandilaria, Mavrotragano and Athiri Mavro. The vines are raised low in the Kouloura training system in the form of wreaths to protect the grapes growing inside from the strong, sandy winds. The yields are relatively low, the wines reach high acidity levels.
The main island Santorini and the small island Thirasia were declared an appellation in 1972. There is a white wine classified as POP in dry and sweet, blended from the varieties Assyrtiko (minimum 75%), and Aïdani Aspro and Athiri (maximum 25%). The sweet version called Vinsanto, made from dried grapes, has an ancient tradition here. This sweet wine probably served as a model for the Italian Vin Santo. A speciality is the dry white wine "Nykteri" (night work), whose name refers to the grape harvest, which takes place only at dusk and the work that ends only in the early hours of the morning. It is aged in wooden barrels and stored for several years. The dry country wines are called "Brousko" (from the Italian brusco = coarse, tart). For this purpose, different white wine varieties harvested over a longer period of time are stored in open vats for a longer time, which causes oxidative processes. After pressing, the must ferments to a brownish, alcoholic and tannin-rich wine with a rustic character.
Well-known producers are Antoniou, Argyros, Boutari, Gaia, Gavalas, Hatzidakis, Koutsoyiannopoulos Volcan Wines (with an integrated museum showing the history of viticulture on the island from 1660 to 1970), Roussos, San..torini, Santo Wines (winegrowers' cooperative to which around 1,000 winegrowers deliver grapes) and Domaine Sigalas.