ESTATE ARGYROS

The Argyros family are considered the masters of Vinsanto and, as this was our third visit to their truly impressive modern winery, built in 2014 in the village of Episkopi, we asked Matthew Argyros, the fourth-generation winemaker who runs the estate, to focus our tasting on that unique traditional Santorini dessert wine.

In the old cellars of the estate, there are 600 barrels of Vinsanto dating back to 1947, and Mathew Argyros was kind enough to let us try some of the oldest vintages, including the one from 1947, which has never been bottled but might soon become part of the estate’s portfolio in very limited editions.

The winemaking history of the Argyros family dates back to the 1850s, when they were charged with making Vinsanto for the Catholic Church. Their wine was also exported to France and Russia, in exchange for wood for making barrels; some of those containers still exist on the island. In 1903, the family was granted land by the church; this is, in fact, how one of its oldest vineyards, Monsignori, got its name.

Even as we watched our guide line up the four bottles bearing the dates of 1947, 1956, 1965 and 1974, we found it hard to believe that we were actually going to be able to try wines as old as these, wines which have been kept in barrels for decades. What was even more impressive, however, was their amazing quality. Although the differences between them were not particularly distinct – after so many years, all the wines reach a level of maturity that produces more or less common characteristics as far as aromas are concerned – what was really amazing was their complexity and the amazing acidity which balances out the sweetness. As Argyros explained, the residual sugar in these wines can be up to 400gr/lt but, thanks to Assyrtiko’s high acidity, they remain really well balanced.

As I mentioned earlier, these wines are not on the market yet, but Estate Argyros does have two Vinsanto labels from more recent vintages: Vinsanto First Release 2015 (the 2016 will be available soon) and Vinsanto Late Release 2003. Both are made from the highest-quality grapes grown on the estate’s best privately owned vineyards. The grapes are harvested late, towards the end of August, and are then left to dry in the sun for 12 to 14 days. After the pressing, the must goes into large cement vats and ferments for at least three years. The Vinsanto First Release label ages in oak barrels for four years while the Late Release label spends at least 16 years ageing in the barrels before it is released οn the market.

Despite the fact that our focus this time was on the Vinsanto, our visit to the estate would have been incomplete if we hadn’t tried the estate’s three cuvées, which are the pride of Matthew Argyros. These are three labels that come from the Estate’s oldest and best vineyards: Monsignori (from the 200-year-old vineyard of the same name), Evdemon (from vineyards in Pyrgos and Megalochori that are 80 years old) and the most recent one, which has just come out this year, Gerontampelo ( which literally “old vineyard” in Greek). All three wines came from the 2020 harvest, and have great potential for ageing. This is the aim of this winery: to make premium wines, from Assyrtiko, which have had the opportunity to age before they are released on the market, in order to showcase the amazing terroir and exceptional grape variety. The winery is open to visitors and conducts wine tours and tastings seven days a week.

WE TASTED

MONSIGNORI 2020
100% Assyrtiko from the 200-year-old vineyard in Episkopi. Steel tank fermentation, no barrel: it is one of the best expressions of Santorini Assyrtiko.

EVDEMON 2020
100% Assyrtiko from the vineyards in Pyrgos and Megalochori, cultivated using biodynamic techniques. The wine is 75% fermented in stainless steel tanks, and 25% in 500-liter old French oak barrels. This is a wine focused on palate architecture that needs several years in the bottle to open up, and will not suffer in the least from cellaring for more than fifteen years.

Δείτε Επίσης

GERONTAMPELO 2020
This is the new addition to the cuvée labels; it has just been released on the market. It’s made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes sourced from the Gerontampelo vineyard, and ferments in 225-liter and 500-liter French oak barrels. The barrel is still quite distinct both on the nose and the palate, but in 2-3 years, the fruit will be more pronounced as the oak aromas become better integrated with ageing. Overall potential for ageing is at least 15 years.

VINSANTO FIRST RELEASE 2015
A luscious wine, with fruit at the forefront, this one is ready to drink now but can age in bottle almost indefinitely. The final yield of this would be close to 75 milliliters per square meter of vineyard.

VINSANTO LATE RELEASE 2003
An intense, profound wine of breathtaking complexity, this one is ready to drink today, but you can be patient, too, as time cannot destroy this gem. The final yield of this would be close to 60 milliliters per square meter of vineyard.

 

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