“Sommeliers love Greece’s crisp white wines as they are great sippers and pair perfectly with many appetizers and fish dishes. Learn about the two most important varietals, Moschofilero and Assyrtkio, as Kim Marcus is joined by Christina Boutari.”
“Our last wine of the day will be a red,” wrote veteran wine writer Paul Vigna in last week’s Patriot News (Pennsylvania).
“It will be Boutari 2009 Naoussa from Naoussa, Macedonia (yeah, still Greece). Made from 100% Xinomavro grapes, this has some history to it… it was actually the first Greek red bottled VQPRD wine to enter the Greek market, constituting a landmark for red wines in Greece.”
“The winemaker says, ‘For 6 generations, it has been enjoyed by consumers, introducing young people to the experience of red wine and rewarding its loyal friends with its consistent, timeless quality.’ And then describes the wine with this: ‘Typical, classic wine of Naoussa. Deep red color with an intense personality. It produces a rich bouquet of ripe red fruit, blackberry and plum, together with sun-dried tomato and the aromas derived from ageing, cinnamon and wood. A rich body, good balance and structure, soft tannins in its finish. Best served with red meat dishes, pasta with red sauces and with yellow cheeses.’”
“The importer describes it this way, though: ‘A wine with deep red color, presenting the typical aromatic character of Xinomavro (cedar, olive, tomato juice, spices and mint). Balanced in mouth full-bodied with pleasant acidity and sweet flavors of vanilla, cocoa and berry.’”
Above: Grilled calamari at Taverna Kyclades, Astoria, Queens, wilted Swiss chard, and a “peasant” (village) salad served with toasty, crusty bread, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. The food is fresh and delicious, the prices more than reasonable, and the long wait for a table is worth it.
Even Eric Asimov, wine writer for The New York Times, had to wait 45 minutes to get a table at the popular Taverny Kyclades in Astoria, Queens. “And I couldn’t have been happier with our wine,” he wrote of the Boutari Santorini, made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes grown on the island of Santorini. “Light, minerally and inexpensive. It went beautifully with the seafood, and was the sort of light white that is absolutely refreshing but still offers something to think about.”
There was an hour and a half wait for a table of four when we visited but well worth the anticipation, especially considering the reasonably priced food and the super friendly waitstaff.
From its sidewalk outdoor dining to the bustling dining room where Greek and English are spoken, this family-friendly restaurant is THE place to be on any evening in the heart of one of the most vibrant Greek communities in the U.S.
Entrées and even the small “peasant” salad were enough for 2 persons, making our tab even more reasonably priced. Boutari Moschofilero and Santorini are served by the bottle.
I made some discoveries a few years ago in a library in Venice that led me to what I believe is definitive proof that the Greek wine Vinsanto gets its name not from the Vin Santo of Italy but rather from the toponym Santorini, the island where it is made.
Here’s the link to my original post on the origins of the two enonyms.
Thanks to my research, I was able to locate a fascinating 19th-century journal entitled, New Remedies, an illustrated monthly trade journal of Materia Medica, Pharmacy and Therpeutics (New York, William Wood, 1880).
In it (volume 9, page 6), I found the following passage (boldface mine):
Greece, and particularly the islands of the Archipelago, produce a great variety of excellent wines, which have lately attracted the attention of eminent therapeutists in Europe. The most favored island is Santorino, the ancient Thera or Kalliste, being the most southern island of the group of the Cyclades, and belonging to Greece. A variety of wines are produced there, both red and white. The best red wine is called Santorin (or Santo, Vino di Baccho), representing a dry fine-tasting claret, with an approach to port. Another fine (white) wine is called Vino di Notte (night wine). There are two varieties of this, one named Kalliste, being stronger and richer; the other, called Elia, somewhat weaker, but both possessing a fine bouquet and equal to the best French wines, particularly for table use. The “king” of Greek wines, however, is the Vino santo, likewise produced in Santorino, occurring in two varieties: dark-red and amber colored. This wine is sweet, rich, very dry, and has a strong stimulating aroma.
Note how the author (Xaver Landerer, a professor of botany at Athens) refers to a wine called “Santo” and he refers to the island as “Santorino” (and not Santorini). Note also how he calls the sweet wine “Vino Santo” and not Vinsanto or Vin Santo (where the o of vino has been naturally elided by the inherent system of Italian prosody).
Together with the above document, I found numerous others from the same era that refer to a “Vino Santo” or “Santo” from “Santorino,” the common name for Santorini in the late 19th century.
I also discovered the following information, which I have translated from the Italian, from the “Summary of previously unreported statistics from the Island of Santorino, sent to the Royal Academy of Science of Turin by Count Giuseppe de Cigalla,” published in the Memorie della Reale Accademia delle Scienze di Torino (proceedings of the Royal Academy of Turin, serie 2, tomo 7, Torino, Stamperia Reale, 1845).
Vineyards produce the [island's] principal crops, with more than 50 varieties of known vine types. 
[In 1841 Santorini produced] Vino santo 2,350 barrels, 1,922 hectoliters, value 63,168 Italian lire 
The only product exported from Santorino worth mention is wine. The quanity exported in 73,120 barrels (59,797 hectoliters) was nearly in 1841 but it generally does not exceed on average 45-50,000 barrels per year (from 36 to 40 thousand hectoliters), correspondent to the amount of consumed in Russia. 
Evidently, Vinsanto from Santorini was widely popular in Russia, where it was consumed as a tonic (I found other texts that spoke of the wine’s popularity in Russia).
Here’s what the editors of Wine Spectator had to say about the 2009 Naoussa:
90 points Boutari Naoussa 2009
There’s a hint of orange peel to the lively dried raspberry, date and green fig flavors. Hangs together with the support of vibrant acidity and medium-grained tannins. Complex and savory, presenting an alluring finish of sandalwood.
September issue, 2013