ABC: Santorini holiday sparks interest in producing Australia’s first Assyrtiko wine

A South Australian winemaker is hoping to expand production of its new white wine, made from a Greek variety of grapes.

Jim Barry Wines this week officially launched the Assyrtiko wine … a first for this kind in Australia.

Managing director Peter Barry said he imported the cuttings from the island of Santorini after tasting the wine on a holiday.

He said the grapes were suited to the Australian climate and are highly drought-resistant.

“There are only about 1,200 hectares of this variety grown in the world and 80 per cent of it is grown on the island of Santorini,” Mr Barry said.

“Santorini only has an annual rainfall of 300 millimetres, so looking at climate change encouraged me to plant a drought-resistant variety that holds its acidity.”

When Mr Barry first tasted the wine he said it had a flavour profile quite different to anything he had ever tasted.

“It was crisp and refreshing and has a more textual flavour on the palate,” he said.

“It still has the crisp freshness of riesling, but with a bit more texture and it was something I had never seen before in a wine.

“The light bulb came on and I thought that it was fascinating and came back to Australia to look into planting some.”

This was 10 years ago and since then he has had cuttings brought in from Santorini, where they had to stay in quarantine for a couple of years.

Mr Barry then started to propagate from those vines and the process of growing the grapes in Australia had begun.

“It is a very slow process of getting a certain number of buds and then you plant those out to get more vines,” he said.

“We then did some experimental wine and we liked that and planted more vines and 2016 is the first commercial launch with 9,000 litres made.”

But there was one slight hurdle that Mr Barry had to get over.

“I could not pronounce it when I first tasted it … it was all Greek to me, funny spelling and all sorts of letters in it, so it was purely on taste.”

For the record, the wine is pronounced ah-SER-tee-koh.

Source: ABC online