Vassaltis, an unwavering passion for fine Santorini wines
Yannis Valambous, a visionary spirit and family-owned vineyards
Yannis Valambous' childhood memories brought him back to the island of Santorini, in Greece. As a child, he enjoyed many family holidays there, a place where his father acquired vineyards. When he inherited his father's vineyard, Yannis Valambous set about making his dream come true: to breathe new life into this promising land.
Modern viticultural objectives backed by talented oenologists
Yannis Valambous' goal is both simple and ambitious: he wants to transform the family-owned vineyards into a state-of-the-art winery and shop, all while producing exquisite wines that showcase the quality of Santorini's grape varieties. This colossal project was gradually built up over the years and was achieved thanks to the talented and exceptional oenologists: Elias Roussakis and Yannis Papaeconomou, who eagerly joined the company to make fine Santorini wines.
From a personal project to a shared goal: elevating Santorini wines to the heights of fine wines
The three men were united by a shared vision: to prove that Santorini is capable of producing high-quality wines, while showing that the new generation of Greek winemakers, thanks to their skills and mastery of the art of winemaking, can contribute to placing these wines on the international stage. A few years later, through hard work and determination, they successfully overcame the challenge.
A typical Greek terroir
The geology of Santorini's soils: poor in clay and rich in minerals
Santorini is a volcanic island, which creates favourable conditions for the cultivation of Athiri, Aidani, Assyrtiko, Mavrotragano and Mandilaria, the main grape varieties on the Cyclades’ infamous island. Indeed, successive volcanic eruptions over the millennia have formed a uniquely textured soil, composed of layers of volcanic ash, pumice, sand and basalt.
This geology is characterised by its near absence of organic matter but contains high levels of essential minerals. Extremely beneficial, the type of soil helps the grapes retain their acidity, which is essential in the making of harmonious wines in Santorini's Mediterranean climate.
A healthy vineyard: the natural benefits of Santorini's soil
The presence of these special minerals and the absence of clay in Santorini's soils result in grapes with a distinctive profile flavour-wise and provide a natural shield against diseases. Santorini's low-yielding vines are a rarity in the wine world because they are planted in the ground with their own roots, whereas the majority of vines in the world are grafted. This can be explained by the fact that Santorini's volcanic soil is inhospitable to phylloxera, which has decimated vines in almost every other wine region in the world. As a result, some of Santorini's vines are more than a century old.
Santorini's climate, Mediterranean and desert-like
The island's climate varies between Mediterranean heat and typical desert-like conditions. Winters are mild, followed by warm, windy springs and hot, dry summers. Throughout the year, Santorini experiences little rainfall. Any showers that do occur on the vineyards are rapidly absorbed by the rocky, sandy soil that makes up most of the area. Nevertheless, most of the moisture that the vines receive comes from the morning fogs, which help to cool the vineyards. Northern winds blow throughout the summer season and help prevent the development of mould, making Santorini an ideal place for sustainable viticulture while simultaneously cooling the temperatures.
Typical Santorini grape varieties make up fine Greek wines by Vassaltis
Whether red or white, still or sparkling, Santorini wines leave lovers of fine wines speechless due to their wonderfully expressive and complex character. This unique character is also due to the richness of the grape varieties grown. Assyrtiko is the infamous Santorini grape variety, but there are many other interesting native varieties on the island, several of which are grown at Vassaltis.
Assyrtiko: the Greek variety producing mineral dry wines or sweet wines
Assyrtiko is most famous for the vibrant, mineral dry wines it often produces. The variety is also used in sweeter styles such as Vinsanto, Santorini's most iconic dessert wine.
Athíri: the Greek variety used in high-quality Greek white wines
Athíri is one of the oldest grape varieties in Greece. Although wine lovers outside Greece may not be familiar with it, Athíri is one of the most widely planted white varietals in the Aegean islands and on the Greek mainland.
Aidáni: the perfect Greek varietal for delicate, floral dry and semi-sweet wines
Like Athíri, Aidáni is another historical variety that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is most often blended with Assyrtiko, which gives the wine delicate floral aromas while softening the sharp acidity of this varietal. Winemakers use it to produce dry and semi-sweet wines. The finest examples age for three to five years.
Mantilariá: the ideal Greek grape variety for colourful and light red wines
In Santorini, this variety covers around 17% of the total vineyard area, making it the main red variety in Santorini. Although it gives a richly coloured juice, Mantilariá offers rather light wines.
Mavrotragano: the Greek variety that produces fine, complex and ageworthy wines
Although it covers less than 2% of Santorini's vineyards, Mavrotragano deserves to be highlighted as it is one of the island's most promising red grape varieties. It offers aromatic wines with notes of ripe red fruit, spice, mineral-driven elements and a crisp, bright acidity. The ageing potential of these wines exceeds ten years.