Archive for the ‘Vinsanto’ category

More on the origins of the name “Vinsanto”

July 3, 2012

Resident Boutari blogger and Boutari Social Media Project webmaster Jeremy Parzen posted this update today on his research regarding the origins of the name Vinsanto.

Some recent discoveries (in a library in Venice) happily 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.

Recently, 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):

Greek Wines.

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. [68]

[In 1841 Santorini produced] Vino santo 2,350 barrels, 1,922 hectoliters, value 63,168 Italian lire [68]

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. [70]

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).

Harvest report from Santorini

August 29, 2011

Above: A Boutari grape harvester in the vineyards. The following dispatch was filed by Santorini enologist Ioanna Vamvakouri (not pictured) today, August 29.

From August 24-26, we completed the harvest in the Megalochori zone and started harvesting in Pirgos.

On August 26, we also harvested are own vineyard in Selladia.

On August 27, we began harvesting the Aidani and by tonight (August 29) we will have completed the pressing of white grapes.

Yesterday we started sun-drying the grapes for the Vinsanto.

Santorini (and Boutari) return to NYC March 23

March 13, 2011

From island to island: Santorini returns to New York City

Save the date for Wednesday, March 23rd


The vineyard of Santorini will be the focus on an invitation-only special seminar and tasting in New York City on March 23. Dr. Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of GAIA wines, one of Greece’s top oenologists, will lead a presentation with fellow winemakers from Santorini for members of the trade and media. The special tasting event will feature the 2010 harvest, projected to be one of the best of the last decade.

Attendees will taste the current and older vintages of the dry white PDO Santorini wines featuring the Assyrtiko grape with other native varieties such as Athiri and Aidani. The tasting will also include barrel-fermented Assyrtikos and of course the island’s “original” Vinsanto wines. A reception will held at BLT Fish after the seminar.

Fringe Wine tastes Boutari 2004 Vinsanto

March 1, 2011

Fringe Wine, a wine blogger based in Quincy MA, was pleasantly surprised to taste Boutari 2004 Vinsanto for the first time when his wife innocently bought a bottle thinking it was Italian Vin Santo. Here’s his tasting note.

BoutariGreek vinsanto is made from grapes that are allowed to raisin on the vine (as opposed to mat-drying as is done in Italy). The blend that I picked up was made from 50% Assyrtiko and 50% Aidani, another native Greek varietal found only on the Cyclades islands in the Aegean which is used almost exclusively in blends due to its lowish acid content. This wine was aged for four years prior to release. In the glass, the wine had a tawny, dark amber/reddish brown coloring. The nose was full of roasted hazelnuts and almonds, raisins and maple syrup. On the palate, the wine was medium bodied with surprisingly high acidity. There were flavors of honey and maple, golden raisins and dried red fruits along with toasted almonds and a kind of spicy orange twist. This wine was sweet, it’s definitely a dessert wine, but not syrupy thanks, I think, to the high acid provided by the Assyrtiko grapes. That acid really kept this lively and interesting in the mouth for me. I’ve had a lot of sweet wines that taste amazing at first but which get old really fast because your palate gets beaten into submission by the relentless sugar assault. The nice acid here keeps this interesting and alive in the glass. This is a wine I will not hesitate to purchase again and I would be very anxious to try it with my southern-style pecan pie.

Click here to read his entire post, including his tasting notes for another bottling of Assyrtiko.

Tasting note: Boutari 2004 VinSanto

February 10, 2011

At a youthful 6 years out, this wine showed the depth and complexity that the appellation in known for, with a gorgeous balance of candied white stone fruit and saltiness. The Assyrtiko grape and its unique expressions, whether vinified as a dry or dried-grape wine, continue to fascinate me and the Boutari Vinsanto is one of my favorites (for the record, it’s actually a blend of Assyrtiko and Aidani, which imparts a wonderful aromatic character to this wine). Tracie P and I have been blown away by how well new oak and small cask aging works with Assyrtiko and in this case, the wood gives a nutty counterpart to the fruit and salt (the label reports that the wine was bottled in 2008, leading me to believe that it spent nearly 4 years in wood). I also love how this wine clocks in with a judicious 12% alcohol, remarkable for the dried-grape category but in line with overarching attitudes among Greek winemakers. Great stuff…

—Jeremy Parzen (blogmaster)

Ancient documents that point to the origin of the name Vinsanto

June 16, 2010

Our blog master, Jeremy Parzen, who holds a Ph.D. in Italian literature, posted this find today on his blog:

After I posted the other day debunking the myth that Italian Vin Santo and Greek Vinsanto are related in any other way beyond a homonymical coincidence, the chief enologist at Boutari, Yannis Voyatzis, express-mailed me a wonderful volume on the wines of Santorini, which (literally) just arrived. In it, I found this wonderful reproduction of a map, printed in 1576 by a Venetian printer. As you can see above and in the detail below, in late 16th-century Venice, the Venetian name of the island Santorini was already well-established.

But more importantly, you can see that the name Santo Erini was still prevalent.

I believe that this supports my theory that the Greek appellation name Vinsanto comes from Vin[o di] Santo[erini].

Debate over the name Vinsanto (vs. Italian Vin Santo)

June 10, 2010

BoutariFor decades (and beyond), wine professionals have debated the origins of the names Vinsanto (Greek) and Vin Santo (Italian).

Today, the Boutari Social Media Project webmaster, Jeremy Parzen (who holds a Ph.D. in Italian) posted his take on the origin of the names and why the wines are related only linguistically. The answer to this philological conundrum, he believes, lies in the Venetians’s dominance of Greece from the Middle Ages through the 17th century. Have a look at Jeremy’s post: you might be surprised by what he had to say.

And in the meantime, here’s some background information, lifted from the entry for “Greece” in the Oxford Companion to Wine.

In the medieval Greece that was part of the Byzantine empire, wine was grown by private individuals and by monasteries… As in antiquity, the best wines came from the Aegean Islands, Khíos first of all, and Thásos and Crete… In the 12th century, Constantinople (on the site of modern Istanbul) was the centre of the Byzantine empire’s wine trade. Wines were shipped to Constantinople from the Aegean islands…

But the private growers and wine merchants of Greece faced a much greater problem than unfair competition from monks. In 1082, the Emperor Alexius I Comnenus had granted Venice trading facilities at Constantinople and in 32 towns without payment of taxes of any kind. As a result, so much money disappeared to the west that Byzantium was economically ruined. Wine producers and wine merchants suffered badly. With no duties to pay, the Venetians were able to sell wine much more cheaply than any Greek could. Often this was imported Italian wine, but most of the wine came from Crete, known then as Candia, which was a colony of Venice (and which was to remain one until the mid 17th century). Worse still, many taverns in Constantinople were owned by Venetians so, in Constantinople at least, they controlled the retail trade as well…

In the 15th century, tax was finally levied on wine imported by Venetians, but by then it was too late, for Byzantium’s wine trade was no longer viable. Crete and Cyprus, under Venetian ownership, continued to produce the strong, sweet wines that were capable of surviving the long sea voyage to western Europe.

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