Santorini, Cyclades islands, Greece
90% Assyrtiko, 5% Athri, 5% Aidani
Estate Argyros has been established in 1903, but the Argyros family has been involved in wine production for decades before that. Since the beginning, there has been a focus on both wine making and vine growing, through a deep understanding that great grapes are always a prerequisite for great wines. Each generation contributed to the development of Estate Argyros wines on both fronts. Although multiple generations of Argyros made fine wines from top quality vineyards, it was Yiannis Argyros that propelled the estate into the world’s wine producing elite. He took hold of the estate in 1974 and worked tirelessly for more than three decades to prove that his Vinsantos are some of the finest, rarest sweet wines in the world. Moreover, Yiannis was instrumental in proving that the dry Assyrtikos of Santorini can be sublime and age worthy. Matthaios (Matthew) Argyros, the fourth generation of wine growers, is currently at the helm of Estate Argyros, since 2004. He has been the driving force behind the establishment of the new winery and the further acquisition of vineyard land. Matthaios is travelling widely, not only for promoting Estate Argyros wines but also to see the great vineyards and taste the finest wines of the world. His acute attention to detail and his depth of knowledge of the Santorini vineyard, guarantee that the future of the Estate is in safe hands.
Assyrtiko is a white grape native to the Cyclades island of Santorini and covers 65% of its vineyard area, where many vines are ungrafted and vary in age from 60 to 250 years. On this windswept volcanic isle, the roots of the Assyrtiko vine can reach up to 18m in the black, ash-rich soil, giving the resulting wines great minerality. The vines are uniquely trained in groundhugging, basket-weaved fashion to minimise wind damage during flowering, as well as grape sunburn. Maritime humidity and fog contribute to an annual rainfall of just 350mm in this improbable winemaking location. Different altitudes, latitudes and soils on this island result in varied styles. Wines classified as ‘Santorini’ are bone-dry, in-your-face, crisp, mineral-laden, high-acid wonders. Field blends of white grapes include the softer Athiri and the aromatic Aidani (it was only possible to produce a 100% Assyrtiko with the advent of sorting belts, where selection is done by hand).
Santorini is one of the most surreal vine growing environments on the planet. The island sits on an active volcano, with extremely young and infertile soils, with almost zero potassium and almost zero clay. This last characteristic makes Santorini not just Phylloxera-free but Phylloxera-immune, meaning that the Phylloxera bug will never have the chance to invade the island. The climate of the island is hot Mediterranean, with very little rainfall during the growing season but plenty of sunlight and fierce winds. Without fog coming out of the caldera every morning, providing moisture in a most sophisticated drip irrigation system provided by nature, very little vegetation could survive in Santorini.
The current landholdings exceed 120 ha, a vast, four-generations-long investment. The magnitude of this commitment can only be understood only when someone takes into account the fact that, in Santorini, there are numerous, far more lucrative uses of land readily available, and, sadly, more frequently preferred.
Estate Argyros vineyards are old, even by Santorini standards. The average vine age exceeds 70 years, while the oldest parcels of the estate are more than two centuries old. The average yields, on a plentiful vintage, rarely gets higher than 21 hl/ha, an impressively, if not catastrophically, low number, matched by very few wines around the world. The vineyards of Santorini are famous for the basked shaped vines, a highly specific training system found nowhere else, called Kouloura. Nevertheless, there are more peculiar training systems on the island, like the Koulouri (not Kouloura) or Klada. Koulouri is a low bush vi
A blend of mainly Assyrtiko, with smaller proportions of Athiri and Aidani, sourced from relatively young vines, sixty year old or younger, and fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures. Matured for four months in stainless steel vats.