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What does Assyrtiko taste of? – ask Decanter

A Greek Assyrtiko has won one of the top medals in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018, but how much do you know about the wines made from this grape?

What does Assyrtiko taste of? – ask Decanter

The Artemis Karamolegos, Assyrtiko, Santorini 2016 has won a coveted Best in Show medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2018.

The Assyrtiko grape can be very similar to Sauvignon Blanc, with its citrus flavours, especially lemon, and high acidity.

‘Assyrtiko is to Greece what Albariño is to Spain or Grüner Veltliner is to Austria,’ said Joanna Simon in her Greek Assyrtiko Expert’s Choice last summer.

According to Decanter‘s ‘tasting notes decoded’ series, Assyrtiko can also have some floral notes, like orange blossom and jasmine, plus some spicy, like ginger. Several tasters have also noted a salty streak in some of the wines.

Santorini is seen as the spiritual home for Assyrtiko and it is believed to be indigenous to the island.

‘There really isn’t anything like Santorini Assyrtiko,’ said Simon.

It also has the advantage of maintaining high acidity, despite growing in warm climates.

More recently, Assyrtiko has been planted in Australia.

Jim Barry wines in Clare Valley made Australia’s first commercial bottling of Assyrtiko in 2016.

According to Decanter experts, it has floral and citrus notes, and minerality.


Assyrtiko can have some oak ageing or fermentation, to add body. Although heavy-handed in the past, it has become more subtle over the years.

‘When applied well, it can add depth and breadth plus toasty flavours that complement Assyrtiko’s piercingly intense flavour profile and high acidity,’ said Simon.

It could also have some lees ageing.

As Decanter’s Sylvia Wu observed about the Vassaltis, Assyrtiko, Santorini 2015, ‘six months on lees combined with regular batonnage provides more depth and complexity to the texture, leading to a long, lingering finish.’

See our ‘Ask Decanter’ page and find more questions answered

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