Lyrarakis, 'Vóila' Assyrtiko, Crete, Greece
Delicious, crisp and fruity with enough concentration to balance all the swordfish you can manage. But seriously, this is a serious wine that will open your eyes and palates to the other end of the Mediterranean sea's wines and indigenous grapes. Plus, it's seriously good value.
Grown in the Vóila plain in the east of Crete, at an altitude of 580m, these Assyrtiko grapes are perfectly suited to their location, which is very similar to their original habitat of the island of Santorini. The diurnal temperature variation is massive (that's the posh phrase for the difference between hot daytime and cool nighttime temperatures) because it's Crete, which is really hot, and it's at such high altitude, which makes it cold at nighttime.
The wine is made from hand harvested grapes that undergo temperature-controlled, slow fermentation over about 16 days. Citrus, white peach, chalky dryness, concentrated palate, fresh and dry with depth of texture and a gorgeous, mouth-watering mineral finish.
The Lyrarakis family have been making wine in Crete for decades and first explored the area in which these Assyrtiko grapes are grown in the 1970s. It's particularly suited to this variety, they say, and it is the combination of the two - variety and terroir - that combine to give the wine its characteristics, charm and quality. Moderate alcohol levels and restraint, where excess would be such an easy option, make them wonderful food pairings and darling wines for sommeliers. The all-female wine making team are on the rise - critical acclaim and commercial success has had only one problem: they often run out of wine!
Jancis Robinson is a big fan - 17 points; Wine Enthusiast say it's one of the Best Buys and Wine and Spirits Magazine gave it 93 points.
- Goat's Cheese
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