Domaine Sigalas @ Volcanic Wines of the World

Welcome to Domaine Sigalas in Santorini!

This is a digital press kit created to support our participation at “Volcanic Wines of the World” held in London this October. We have tried to collect useful information about Santorini, Domaine Sigalas and the wines to be tasted.

We understand that there may be so many more questions and/or requests for more detailed material for press purposes. If so, please contact us at [email protected] 

We will be more than happy to help.

Thank you!

 

ABOUT SANTORINI

It is said that Santorini counts more than 3,500 years of uninterrupted vine growing.

That could have been literally the case if one of the most cataclysmic natural disasters in human history would not have taken place; the massive volcanic eruption -known as “Minoan Eruption”- around 1600 BC sent magma over 30 meters into the air, created an enormous tidal wave and claimed the death of millions around the Mediterranean crescent. It is considered as the most powerful volcanic event over the last 10,000 years (50 thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb). As a result the shape of Santorini changed as the entire part of the island collapsed into the sea, giving its place to a complex of smaller islands. For almost 300 years after that event, Santorini was uninhabitable.

Nevertheless, vine growing, winemaking and wine trade were indeed the habitants’ major activity as findings from the excavations (from 1960s) at “Akrotiri” showed revealing one of the most impressive and important prehistoric settlements. The first colonists after the disaster, according to Herodotus, faced an extreme ecosystem in order to survive; vines managed to survive in that inhospitable environment.

What is “aspa”?
That is how the locals call that hard, solid ground that was created by the layers of volcanic matter; a mixture of stone, volcanic ash, lava rocks and sand. It contains little to no organic matter, still it is rich in essential minerals, producing wines of high acidity and low pH. The celebrated Assyrtiko variety thrives in Santorini, offering some of the most sought-after wines worldwide. Other native varieties cultivated on the island are Aidani (white) and Mavrotragano (red).

These elements shape the distinctive Santorinian landscape and soil, creating one of the most special volcanic terroirs of the world. Phylloxera-immune (one of the few self rooted vineyards in Europe) and strained by the almost anhydrous conditions met on the island – a challenge crucial to the weather changing patterns of today.

What is “kouloura”?
Santorini is also beset by incredibly high winds, making the local vine growers to come up with a unique method of vine training called “kouloura”. Weaving the vines into a basket-like shape, close to the ground, that works as a natural nest for the grapes (see the photo above). Still, this system only decreases the possible damage from severe weather phenomena and cannot eliminate it.

Combined to other weather phenomena, vine growing is Santorini is truly heroic, with production volumes varying significantly from vintage to vintage. To that extent, please read DOMAINE SIGALAS / 2023 HARVEST REPORT 

ABOUT DOMAINE SIGALAS

1991 was the maiden vintage of Santorini Assyrtiko for Domaine Sigalas and its founder Paris Sigalas. Since then, “Sigalas” has been established as a pioneer and a maverick for Santorini, a top producer that paved the way for the island’s winemaking around the world.

With deep respect to that outstanding legacy, today Domaine Sigalas wines are crafted from vine to wine by a young team of passionate, devoted and insightful viticulturists and enologists (Stratos, Sara, Kostas, Margarita, George). The team was brought together and entrusted with this extraordinary opportunity to carry on and recreate by Stellios Boutaris, 5th generation winemaker, a restless rejuvenator himself of an outstanding family legacy (Kir-Yianni) and #greekwine visionary.

Domaine Sigalas winery is nestled between vines on the scenic plain of Oia in the northern part of Santorini. The 40 hectares of surrounding vineyards are cultivated in a sustainable mindful manner, while assisting local vine growers with whom the Domaine shares longstanding bonds of trust and collaboration.

On a stellar vintage, Domaine Sigalas production may reach 200,000 bottles. It is one of the most prominent exporters of premium Greek wines and one of the most decorated Greek wineries.

OUR WINES PRESENTED AT THE EVENT

Santorini  2022
Tech sheet
Bottle shot 
Santorini Barrel 2022
Tech sheet
Bottle shot
Kavalieros 2021
Tech sheet
Bottle shot
Mavrotragano 2021
Tech sheet
Bottle shot

Domaine Sigalas: 2023 Santorini Harvest Report

Challenges demanding long-term strategic investment 

At one of the most challenging harvests in decades for Santorini, the scientific rigor of Domaine Sigalas’ viticulture team is leading the sustainable way.

 

The 2023 harvest in Santorini has been full of challenges in terms of weather conditions, resulting in one of the smallest in volume productions in decades. Data recorded demonstrates that climate change has started showing its teeth forcing the renowned heroic viticulture and the unique heritage landscapes of the Cycladic Island to face yet another critical and complex hazard.

“The preservation of the viticultural tradition in the new climate reality is the crucial bet”, according to Stratos Xyrafis, member of Domaine Sigalas Viticulturist team. “The scientific knowledge can work as a shield to the unique Santorinian viti-vini heritage, together with innovation and local vine growers’ empirical wisdom passed down generation upon generation. The synthesis of all those elements with respect, mindfulness and realism is the way forward that drives our work and systematic investment at Domaine Sigalas”.

CONDITIONS MET IN SANTORINI THROUGH THE YEAR

Weather in Santorini during the 2022-2023 growing season was characterized by mild winter temperatures and drought.  Rainfall did not exceed 190mm, while the average level on the island during the last 20 years had been 320mm; It is worth noting that 320mm was recorded last year as well, following 2 years of remarkably low rainfall. Still, rain distribution was key.

Rainfall distribution period lasted from October to June in 2023 (190mm of rain in 9 months), compared to the 320mm in 7 months (October to April) recorded in the previous season. As shown on the chart, equally interesting is the comparison with the last 20-year average when the rain distribution followed a rather typical seasonal climax, peaking during winter. That has not been the case of this season that displayed a discontinuous pattern; Ιn addition, due to the rain in May and June, there was a need for plant protection.

Spring was cool with the typical strong winds that almost every year cause damage to the sensitive developmental stage. It must be highlighted that on 23 April hail hit the southern parts of the island, disrupting the production of the region to a significant extent. The northern parts from where our major produce is created were not affected by the phenomenon.

Summer was characterized by two long heatwaves, peaking on the 15 and 23 July respectively, leading to further decrease of production and affecting the northern parts of the island as well.

All those conditions resulted in a production drop between 50 and 90% depending on the area. Consequently, grape prices have risen by more than 25% compared to 2022.

2023 HARVEST FOR DOMAINE SIGALAS

In the area of Oia, from where we acquire the grapes for our Domaine, quality has maintained high levels.

In the context of the extreme weather conditions met in Oia (heatwaves), environmentally friendly techniques were implemented to protect the plants and reduce heat stress. We chose to implement them widely in our area, managing to limit the impact of the severe phenomena to a considerable extent, preserving grape quality.

Due to the conditions met, there was a late ripening of the grapes, while harvest took place gradually, starting from the vine blocks of lower altitude.

At Domaine Sigalas, our harvest began on 16 August with the varieties of Athiri, Assyrtiko and Mavrotragano, followed by Mandilaria on 30 August; On 2 September we received the first Aidani grapes.  

FIRST QUALITY ASSESSMENT FOR DOMAINE SIGALAS 2023 VINTAGE

Rigorous Mavrotragano sorting berry by berry at Domaine Sigalas

The quality of the grapes arrived at our winery has been evaluated between “very good and exceptional” (phenolics, aromas), while the rigorous sorting of the fruits remains non-negotiable for our Domaine

The first samples show “quality features that meet Sigalas high standards” according to Sara Iakovidou, our Domaine’s oenologist, “despite the fact that 2023 has been a year of great challenges in the vineyard due to climate change”.