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Island Finds: Distinctive wines from remote vineyards

Wines from remote islands with distinctive terroirs and indigenous varieties are often overlooked. Yet, Decanter World Wine Awards 2023 results highlight the growing interest and improved quality from such unique locations.

Encircled by the azure expanses of the world’s oceans and existing within the obscurity of their isolated locales, islands are often overlooked when it comes to wine production. Yet a growing interest in indigenous varieties and distinctive terroirs is bringing about change, along with improvements in quality.

Vineyards on islands often perch on dramatic landscapes – from the igneous expanses of Santorini, Lanzarote and Pantelleria to the sun-drenched shores and mountainous inland terrains of Sardinia and Corsica.

Rocky outcrops and volcanic soils impart a distinctive minerality, while proximity to the sea and elevation contribute to refreshing acidity and purity of styles. As a result, these wines are not only vibrant and expressive but, when crafted with care, also garner acclaim from some of the world’s most esteemed wine experts.


Scroll down to discover 14 island treasures from DWWA 2023


The results of the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) offer myriad styles for inquisitive island-wine seekers to explore, flagging up quality wines from both classic and more obscure regions.

From Santorini and its increasingly well-known Assyrtiko, with its bracing acidity and saline minerality, or Sicily and its Nerello Mascalese, often referred to as the ‘Barolo of the South’ for its structure and elegance, to Campania’s heroic viticultural sites on Ischia – there’s excitement and accomplished winemaking to be found in abundance.

Below uncover 14 from the 2023 competition, with more to seek out at awards.decanter.com

Island Finds: Distinctive wines from remote vineyards

Island standouts

Kyanos, Orycton, Santorini, Greece 2021


Best in Show, 97 points
@kyanos_wines
If you’ve never tried a dry Santorini white, you’re in for a treat. Ancient Assyrtiko vines, grown in curled basket form to protect against incessant wind and an unrelenting sun, send their roots deep into the pumice and tephra soils of the volcanic island. The result is a piercingly dry white whose ‘mineral’ character seems to outstrip that of any other wine, both aromatically and in its flavour: a distinctive, thick-textured mouthful in which lemon and lemon pith mingle with a salty, mineral-oil richness. Alcohol 14.5%

Mecori, Duo, Etna, Sicily, Italy 2021


Best in Show, 97 points
mecorietna.it
A compelling blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from vineyards high on Sicily’s far-from-dormant volcano. A wine of this type from Etna can be horizon-altering. It offers light, graceful, aerial scents of hedgerow bramble fruit and wild strawberries. Graceful and poised in the mouth, the fruits take on a perfumed sheen, the delicate acidity joined by plump tannins and a root-spice freshness. The flavours may be southerly, but in other respects, you might guess that this comes from much further north. Alc 14%

Italy

Barone Di Miceli, Femina Bianco, Etna, Sicily 2022


Platinum, 97 points
vinipatria.it
Pure apricot, peach and zesty lemon fruit infused with a delicate wet stone mineral charm. Beautifully sapid and entrancing with mouthwatering concentration, crisp acidity and a lovely long, saline finish. Alc 12.5%

Morgante, Don Antonio Nero d’Avola Riserva, Sicily 2019


Gold, 95 points 
£31.18 (2014) Sommelier’s Choice, US$40-$49 B-21, Mr D, Vintage Cellar, Wine.com, Yiannis
Rippling bramble, blueberry and red cherry fruit offset with smoky bacon, tobacco and coffee, spilling out onto a concentrated, silky-smooth palate. Long and opulent. Alc 15%

Cantina Tani, Serranu, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardinia 2019


Gold, 95 points 
cantinatani.it
Ample garrigue herbs, gentle spice and warm summer berries enfolded in a plush creamy texture and an undercurrent of satin tannins. Long, savoury finish. Alc 14.5%

Ferruccio Deiana, Sileno Riserva, Cannonau di Sardegna, Sardinia 2019


Gold, 95 points 
ferrucciodeiana.it
A flawless purity of rose petals and black cherries with a lush strawberry jam and liquorice intensity. Silky-fine with a rounded, embracing oak texture and a luxuriant finish. Alc 14.5%

Pellegrino, Isesi Bianco, Pantelleria 2020


Silver, 92 points 
£19.95 Lekker Wines
From the island near Sicily. Expressive aromas of orange peel, roses, tropical fruits and candied lemon, and savoury undertones. Juicy and supple on the palate. Alc 13%

Cenatiempo, Kalimera, Ischia 2020


Silver, 90 points
£39.50-£42.49 The Great Wine Co, Winesquare
From the island off the coast of Naples. Distinctive nose of peach, golden apple and sweet canned pineapple. Rich and fruity palate, long on the finish. Alc 13.5%

Greece

Mikra Thira, Assyrtiko, Santorini 2021


Platinum, 97 points 
£47.43 Epinoia
Crystalline purity with engaging honeysuckle, jasmine and seaweed enhanced by a sea- breeze freshness. Sumptuous peach and a light-toasty complexity grace a deliciously elegant palate that has a long-lasting mineral finish. Alc 13.5%

Vaptistis, Mavrotragano, Cyclades, Aegean 2021


Silver, 92 points 
US$41-$50 Mr D, The Wine Wave
Blackberry and plum aromas with hints of minerality. The palate is fresh with lifted acidity and a wild herb character. Long on the finish. Alc 14%

Cyprus

Dafermou, Yiannoudi, Larnaca 2021


Gold, 95 points
dafermouwinery.com
Laden with succulent fruits and enriched with notes of flowers and baking spice. Stylish, with a firm, fine-grained tannic backbone and a persistent finish. Alc 13.5%

France

Les Vignerons d’Aghione, Casanova Costa d’Oru, l’Ile de Beauté, Corsica 2022


Value Gold, 95 pointa 
£8.50 Co-op
Vivid red berries and energetic citrus aromas are well defined and precise, with a racy, all-consuming acidity and lingering mineral core dancing through to the finish. Alc 12%

Spain

El Grifo, Sobre Lías Malvasía Volcánica, Lanzarote 2020


Silver, 91 points 
elgrifo.com
Wonderful ripe orchard fruit, oak spice and nutty aromas. An expressive and quite complex wine with a desirably lingering mineral finish. Alc 13%

Croatia

Vislander, Bugava Antique, Vis, Dalmatia 2021


Silver, 90 points 
vislander.hr
From the Adriatic island off Split. Appealing peach, apple and honeyed almond aromas. Full, with a rounded texture, good length and a spicy finish. Alc 13.5%


See all DWWA 2023 results


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