WSET3 Palate Notes

Body - Medium,
Acid - High,
Alcohol - Medium / High.

Tastes Like: Saline, Lemon, Stonefruit, Green apple, Minerality, Passion fruit

Assyrtiko is a white grape variety that hails from the sun-soaked Greek island of Santorini. Renowned for its high acidity and pronounced minerality, Assyrtiko has gained a reputation as one of Greece’s most important and versatile grape varieties. This grape thrives in the volcanic soils of Santorini, producing wines that are both distinctive and age-worthy.

I first came across this living in the UK - where Gaia’s Wild Ferment was a great introduction and continues to impress.

What You Can Expect to Taste and Smell

Assyrtiko wines are typically characterized by their crisp acidity and vibrant mineral notes. On the nose, you can expect aromas of citrus fruits such as lemon and lime, along with green apple and subtle hints of white flowers. The palate often reveals a pronounced saline quality, reflecting the grape’s volcanic terroir, with flavors of citrus, green apple, and a steely minerality.

Comparison of Cool vs Warm Climates

In cooler climates, Assyrtiko maintains its high acidity and fresh citrus notes, producing wines that are bright and zesty. These wines tend to have a more pronounced mineral backbone and a leaner profile. In warmer climates, Assyrtiko develops riper fruit flavors, including notes of peach and tropical fruits, while still retaining its characteristic acidity and minerality. These warmer climate wines often have a fuller body and a richer texture.


I’ve also tried lots of Vin Santo from Santorini (back when it was very cheap in the UK) and it’s hard to find better value for a late-harvest sweet wine. Nowadays, what once were bargins, are expensive and its harder to find good-value

  • Vin Santo - Late Harvest, then 14 days in Sun and 2 years in Oak aged - oxidative, caramel, nuts

Appellations / Producers of Note

Key Regions:

  • Greece: Particularly the island of Santorini, where the grape originates.
  • Australia: Emerging as a new region for Assyrtiko, with notable plantings in South Australia.

Notable Producers:

  • Domaine Sigalas (Greece): Known for its classic Santorini Assyrtiko.
  • Gaia Wines (Greece): Produces both Santorini and mainland Assyrtiko.
  • Argyros Estate (Greece): Renowned for its traditional and aged Assyrtiko wines.
  • Jim Barry Wines (Australia): One of the pioneering producers of Assyrtiko in Australia.


Assyrtiko wines, especially those from Santorini, have excellent aging potential. The high acidity and strong mineral character of these wines allow them to develop complex tertiary flavors over time. While young Assyrtiko wines are vibrant and fresh, aged versions can reveal notes of honey, nuts, and a richer, more rounded texture, making them highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

First Published: Friday, Sep 1, 2023 Last updated: Jun 10, 2024

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Meet the author

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Damien Saunders
WSET3 award - Has been on a journey to learn more about wine, viticulture since I started travelling. Every country has something to drink.
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