Drink the Islands: These Mediterranean Wines Are Ideal for Summer
Bloomberg – Watching A Bigger Splash the recent film set on the volcanic island of Pantelleria off the coast of Sicily, set off my recurring summer fantasy: sailing to a remote, sunbaked spot surrounded by a glittering turquoise sea, where I sip chilled local wines overlooking a harbor of gently rocking white yachts.
If, like me, you didn’t make that dream happen this summer, you can let the taste of the best island wines take you to a selection of glam places such as Sardinia, Corsica, Pantelleria, and other fashionable Mediterranean playgrounds.
Many of the native grapes are unfamiliar, with hard to pronounce names (try niellucciu), but don’t worry. The wines, born from grapes grown in volcanic soil and ripened by luminous sun, salt air, and the mistral wind, are really, really good.
Only a handful of Greek islands make exceptional wines that are widely exported. Best known is Santorini, whose striking landscape of black sand beaches and whitewashed cliff houses becomes a crowded tourist scene in summer. Drinking its edgy, earthy assyrtikos on your home deck almost takes you there. Green, mountainous Cephalonia, whose fine, golden-sand beaches invite barefoot walking, is the most important wine spot among the Ionian islands off the west coast of Greece. And Crete, known to archeology buffs for the famous site of Knossos, sports ultra-luxurious yacht club villas as well as a winemaking tradition that goes back 4,000 years.
2014 Hatzidakis Assyrtiko Santorini ($20)
A standout white made from organically grown grapes, it’s intensely salty, lemony, and earthy, with a rich, polished texture.
2014 Gentilini Robola Cephalonia ($20)
This fresh, light, white Robola, laced with mineral and citrus hints will make you think of grilled fish.
2013 Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko Crete ($15)
The red liatiko grape is indigenous to Crete. The pure, vibrant, spicy red fruit flavors of this wine recall an easy-sipping Beaujolais. It’s best slightly chilled.