Find it too depressing to think about the seesawing stock market? Don’t dare peek at your 401k? Break out a bottle and corkscrew to console yourself—and lend a helping hand to a country whose debt crisis is even worse. Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain all make many great values for less than $20 (even less than $10), helping you keep your wine budget in check.
In the heat of summer, I’ve been exploring the crisp whites from Santorini, whose invigorating citrus and sea spray notes make me feel like I’m vacationing on a Greek island without the hassle and cost of air travel. Recently, I picked up the 2009 Atlantis white from the century-old Argyros winery (around $16) for dinner at home.
The saline and citrus aromas expanded into tangy grapefruit, lemon and stony mineral flavors, backed by taut acidity, with a touch of beeswax on the finish. 87 points, non-blind. Simply prepared fish and shellfish are a natural pairing with this wine, but the spicy harissa sauce accompanying our shrimp cocktail had a bit too much kick to let the wine shine through fully. Better was a simple ham quesadilla with tomato salsa, which brought out savory herbal elements and emphasized the sea salt notes.
This bottling is 90 percent Assyrtiko, Santorini’s signature white variety, blended with Athiri and Aidani for their aromatics and lower acidity. Santorini’s ancient grape varieties and winegrowing practices are fascinating to explore (learn more in this video; check out the basket-shaped vines), but if your head is too troubled with finances right now to pick up unfamiliar-sounding grape and region names, just kick back and enjoy.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Greek whites.
Learn more about Greece’s grape varieties, wine regions and winemaking in Santorini Success, from Wine Spectator's Nov. 15, 2007, issue.