Assyrtiko: Fierce and Delightful Wine for Summer

Adventures with Weird Wine Grapes

There are 1,368 varieties covered in Master of Wine Jancis Robinson's Wine Grapes. Bet you can't try them all.

Note from the author: There are 1,368 varieties covered in Wine Grapes by MW Jancis Robinson, MW Julia Harding, and Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. Bet you can't try them all.


Domaine Sigalas is a benchmark producer of the singular Assyrtiko grape grown on the Greek volcanic island of Santorini. [Photograph: Stevie Stacionis]

"It is surely only a matter of time before this exciting variety goes travelling." —Wine Grapes, by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and Jose Vouillamoz

I've been priced out of my apartment, my beloved neighborhood, and my favorite city in the whole world.

Rent control, shment control, it seems. I have to find a new home. In less than 30 days. So I "celebrated" one of my last leisurely days (a.k.a. drowned my sorrows) in my near-and-dear Dolores Park with a bottle of Assyrtiko.

Wine Grapes introduces the entry on this grape from the volcanic and picturesque island of Santorini with an enticing note: "Top-quality, intense, highly structured Greek island white that retains acidity even in heat."

I am a huge fan of intensity, structure, and major acidity. Especially faced with my new challenges: I craved an inspiring illustration of boldness and confidence.

It's as if Assyrtiko was made for me: the first sip of 2012 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko. delivered a bracing wave of sour peach- and lemon-lined acidity followed up by a thin curtain of volcanic smoke and a mouth-drying, upright, tannic finish. Fierce. Delightful.

In line with the "what grows together goes together" wisdom, I brought along a batch of Greek-inspired snacks: Cerignola olives and a tub of lemony hummus. I sprawled out on a blanket with a friend who had recently left San Francisco, too, for warmer climes, cheaper rent, and what he promised was much more space to stretch out.

I guzzled three delicious glasses of brisk and briny Assyrtiko in between mouthfuls of pita chips overloaded with hummus and laments about greedy landlords.

The Sigalas soothed, and by the end of the afternoon as Karl the Fog cascaded down over Twin Peaks (helped along by a biting Pacific wind), and as my shorts-clad friend headed home to an 80-degree evening across the Bay, I felt a surge of hope about my impending adventure. I'll be a half hour closer to Tahoe, Napa, and my family in Sacramento. Perhaps I'll be able to host dinner parties for more than four in my new home. Perhaps I'll be able to unpack all those sundresses I've left buried in a box under the bed. Perhaps I'll even be able to save up for a trip to Greece to visit the home of my new favorite grape, Assyrtiko.

I'll think of my move as more of an excursion, similar to what Wine Grapes says about the grape itself: "It is surely only a matter of time before this exciting variety goes travelling."

2012 Sigalas Assyrtiko
The Grape(s): Assyrtiko
The Region: Santorini, Greece
Retail Price: $20
The Importer: Diamond Importers

About the Author: Stevie Stacionis is a wine writer and Certified Sommelier based in San Francisco. She's currently drinking her way through the 1,368 varieties included in the new Wine Grapes tome. Follow her on Twitter @StevieStacionis and check out her snobbery-free wine videos at A Drinks With Friends TV.

Wine provided as sample for review consideration.