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Santorini Terroir through Domaine Sigalas

Santorini is a caldera, a group of islands formed by an underwater megavolcano that erupted around 3,600 years ago. The largest island, Thera, is our focus for this terroir discussion.

Thera is a tourist magnet, famous for its picturesque blue and white towns perched on cliffs. Wine cultivation has modernized in recent decades, making Santorini Assyrtiko a globally recognized white wine. Domaine Sigalas, the winery behind our tasting, was founded in 1991 but has already shown the island's viticultural promise.

Unlike renowned wine regions like Burgundy or Napa Valley, Santorini lacks defined subregions. Our first Santorini Terroir night, held on August 31, 2023, in Denver, aimed to change that.

We tasted seven single-village wines from Domaine Sigalas' 2021 vintage with 12 wine club members and two enthusiastic sommeliers. Here's a breakdown:

Wine 1: Assyrtiko "normale" 2022

Before exploring the village-specific wines, we sampled the standard Assyrtiko. It displayed tart citrus and stone fruits, with a unique aspirin-like bitterness on the finish.

**Wine 2: Oia**

Located in the north, Oia showcased rich texture and floral notes. The wine was a revelation upon re-tasting, with intense floral aromas.

**Wines 3&4: Imerovigli and Vourvoulos**

These neighboring villages offered contrasting profiles. Imerovigli was rich, with tropical fruit notes, while Vourvoulos was more mineral-driven and tart.

**Wines 5&6: Pyrgos and Megalochori**

Pyrgos was tense and acidic, with a floral edge. Megalochori was powerful, structured, and bitter, drawing comparisons to Northern Rhone wines.

**Wines 7&8: Akrotiri and Fira**

Akrotiri was lean but creamy, while Fira balanced weight, minerality, and floral intensity, making it the winery's favorite for this vintage.


The west coast produced the most potent wines, likely influenced by wind conditions. Inland villages like Pyrgos and Vourvoulos yielded leaner, more mineral expressions, possibly due to cooler temperatures.

**Creating Subregions:**

1. **Oia**: Known for its fresh and floral wines.
2. **Fira**: Includes Imerovigli and Megalochori, producing richer Assyrtiko styles.
3. **Pyrgos**: Central plateau region, offering the leanest and most mineral wines.
4. **Akrotiri**: South coast region, second in power only to Fira, but with a softer structure.

**The Future:**

We're eager to explore other producers and vintages to validate these subregions. Whether this leads to meaningful insights remains to be seen, but Santorini's wine potential is undoubtedly exciting.


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