by Zoltan Szabo

There were vineyards on the Greek island of Santorini as far back as 3,000 years ago. Paris Sigalas, a former Sorbonne mathematician and self-taught winemaker, is producing stellar wines on this volcanic island. He was in town showcasing his wines in a vertical tasting going back to 2001. My colleague and friend, Evan Saviolidis, presented a PowerPoint short lecture about the island, the Assyrtico grape, history and the myth of Atlantis.

Sigalas cultivates grapes over 19 hectares of land on the island since 1991, from ungrafted vines that were never affected by  phylloxera. They’re up to 120 years old, grown in poor fertility, volcanic soils with great water retention, and Sigalas produces approximately 200,000 bottles of organic wine. The vines are uniquely trained and pruned, looking like a basket, or bird cage, called the Stefania crown, with bunches hanging from the inside, to be protected by winds.

2006 Santorini Assyrtiko Domaine Sigalas Greece
I was shocked by the greatness of the 2006 vintage, so intense and with mind-blowing extract, mineral with extraordinary structure, brilliant acidity and overall complexity. Aromas and flavours of lime, apples, stone fruit and even spicy floral nuances, but what struck me was the textural strength and vividness, almost salty mineral and brisk acid composure of the wine. I was comparing it to great dry Mosel Riesling and Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau, but gave up, because I realized that white wine like this comes from Santorini only. World class, period. I also liked very much the ’05 vintage, the ’03 oak aged version (like a great white Burgundy turbocharged by volcanic minerality) and the ’09 oak aged Assyrtico also. The most recent vintage is the 2010 which I believe is a superb wine in the making, give it a couple of years… These wines are also not expensive – around $20… They must be ordered directly from the agent: visit

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