Hatzidakis "Skitali" Santorini 2019
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I’m always looking for an excuse to drink more of the wines from Hatzidakis, and they are easily some of the best examples of Greek island wine, and of course, wines from volcanic soils. Santorini was already a winemaking island in the 1617 BCE when it was completely reshaped by an explosion that covered the Bronze Age city of Akrotiri — and preserved it in ash for history. 400 years later winemaking resumed, possibly better than ever. Not much else besides grapes, tomatoes, capers, and fava beans can grow in the harsh, windy conditions on Santorini but all of those things are infused with a palpable intensity due to the vitality required to survive in the rugged ash, rock, and pumice that they are planted in.
Hatzidakis is the first and only certified organic producer (in the modern sense) on the island. In 1997, Haridimos Hatzidakis and his wife Konstantina Chryssou began working vineyards abandoned by her family in 1956 when they fled the island’s most recent eruption. After Haridimos passed away suddenly in 2017, his daughter Stella has taken the lead of an all-female team including oenolgists Stella Papadimitriou and Helena Alevra. The wines are as thrilling and age worthy as ever. ‘Skitali’ is made from 100% Assyrtiko, with 12 months on the lees in steel tank and two more years in bottle before release. It’s powerful but filigreed, with a healthy helping of mineral texture, lemon pith, and racy energy. The chalky, oceanic feeling is unmistakable and it walks a tightrope between baroque opulence and fine-tuned elegance. It will age beautifully but is drinking well now, too. ‘Skitali’ means baton and it refers to the passing of the baton from Haridimos to his children. Jonathan Kemp