“You’re in luck. We just ran out of our regular Greek glasspour, so I’ll have to give you a barrel-fermented bottle from Sigalas. Sorry about that.” – at Sylvain, New Orleans
When I drove across Santorini on my way to Fira back in 2007, I couldn’t believe just how desolate the middle of the island was. The ocean wind whipped across the flat plateau in the middle of the sun stricken island, which I guess keeps the area sparse in touristy attractions that abound on the cliffside towns and Perissa’s mile long party beach.
What a crazy juxtaposition; to my left along the razor sharp cliffs were fields of flowers and sinewy grass dispersed between jagged beds of red, volcanic soil tumbling down into the ocean. How does this all exist in the same tiny island?
The nature patterns were insane. Although daytime was intensely hot and bright (even in early April you have to squint to see where you’re going), the wind died down to a cool breeze at night and was quiet, calling attention to the clear, starry nights- so calm that the middle of the island often developed a thin fog into the early hours of the morning. And the vines loved it. They were wrapped tightly round each other, flat against the ground in coils that allowed some small amount of moisture to feed them and trap the salt wind. I can really taste the effects that barrel fermentation had on this grape, and it’s damn delicious (not everybody does this with Assyrtiko on Santorini). Still with piercing clarity, it adds a “tenor”. Does that make sense? It did to me.
Since then, I’ve craved the strong minerality and aromatics of the island. Corsica has been a fun comparison in that regard. But this one really brought me back.