Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko is a Greek white wine made on the island of Santorini in the southern Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. The Assyrtiko grape variety is considered to be the flagship grape of Santorini and tends to produce white wines with good acidity, packed with mineral and citrus character. Santorini is a volcanic island and the volcanic soils contain no clay, which means that the it wasn’t affected by phylloxera, which could not survive there. Therefore some of the very vines are very old (in this case most of the vines are almost 80 years old).
Gaia Estate were one of the pioneers of quality Greek wine production. The estate was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. They operate two different wineries, one in Nemea and one in Santorini, where they make cutting edge wines. The grapes for Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko are produced exclusively from vineyards in the Episkopi, Akrotiri and Pyrgos regions of Santorini where the vines are almost 80 years old and have a particularly low yield (it doesn not exceed 25 hectolitres per hectare). The vines are cultivated in volcanic soils which are porous with a high mineral content. Many wine-growers in Santorini use a technique called “kataboladi” whereby, if an old vine dies, a connected branch from an adjacent vine is planted in the soil in its place. After 3 to 5 years this is detached from the parent vine creating a new, separate vine. A unique bush-training system called “koulara” has also been developed. As the vines grow they are woven into baskets, low to the ground, with the grapes on the inside of the ring. This means that the grapes are protected from the island’s fierce wines and harsh sunshine.
Gaia’s Santorini winery is situated on a beach, on the east side of the island, between Kamari and Monolithos settlements and is houses in an old stone building which used to be a tomato factory. The hand picked grapes are carefully selected, destemmed and then crushed. The free run juice was fermented in temperature controlled tanks with selected yeasts. This wine was produced in an unoaked style in order to retain its freshness and purity of fruit.
Gaia recommend decanting this wine half an hour before serving – try it out and see what you think!
Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.