|Region:||Greece / Santorini|
A knee-jerk reaction might send one to the skin-macerated Friuli in identifying this wine blind. The slight rancio, hint of petrol, initial VA, intense aromatics and round mid-weight texture are conducive, but none are quite right to really mistake it for the colder Friuli “orange” wine. Nykteri carries the sun and the warmth of the Santorini island. It is juicy and rich, and biggish, yet bound tightly by the vibrant acidity. It teeters close to the overkill line, but doesn’t quite cross it.
The word “nykteri’ can be loosely translated as “stay up all night” and refers to the traditional winemaking practice of crushing the grapes during the night right after the afternoon of harvesting. I suspect the main idea behind this was to cool down the grapes before crushing them (Hatzidakis uses a hand-operated basket press) to help preserve as much freshness as possible, considering they were left under the scorching sun of Santorini past the normal harvest time to overripen. That’s the source of that richness in body and flavor which is immediately evident when you taste Nykteri.
Skin contact is short, around 6 hours. Fermentation is in steel, followed by 6-12 months in small 5 year-old barrels. By law, to qualify for PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Santorini, the wine must contain at least 75% of Assyrtiko grapes. For the remaining 25% Aidani and/or Arthiri grapes may be used. This one from Hatzidakis is a 100% Assyrtiko.