28Feb

Santorini Barrel 1994, Domaine Sigalas

A once in a lifetime wine tasting experience!

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To be honest, tasting a 17 year old bottle of white wine, is not that common for me. It’s more than rare to taste a wine like that and not be disappointed, but thoroughly surprised...


A few days ago, I was invited at Paris Sigalas’ house for dinner. Paris is the owner of “Domaine Sigalas” winery and he has been a winemaker for more than 30 years. The menu was simple including local greens, roast potatoes in the cinder of the fireplace and Cycladic cheese. The main dish was a stewed duck in celery and vegetables, accompanied by a risotto, boiled in chicken broth with grapefruit. The wines were chosen by the table companion.

After tasting several Greek white wines and before our resumption in a chain of reds, the winemaker has saved the best one for last: a Santorini Barrel 1994 (Assyrtiko)! In his opinion, bottles of millesimes before 1998 are rarely opened, because of the high risk of such a prolonged aging.

--I have to inform you that in 1994, the winery, during its fourth harvest as a professional enterprise, was actually seeking the identity of its wines. At the time, the use of machinery was very limited and of course, all bottling was made by hand. Besides, the “nickname” of the wine was “Ia” -after the nearby village- and this is how many people call it, till today.--

Against all odds, the wine was an apocalypse. Its color was hazy gold but still limpid and clear. In any case, it had the color of a wine normally 10 years younger.

The nose started dull, but after some minutes of aeration, a shower of aromas was liberated. The predictable oxidative notes were well hidden behind cohesion of ripe quince, orange, honey, tea and iodine. Minerallity was present, in a very discreet manner, for an Assyrtiko from Santorini. Vanilla and light toasted bread notes were revealed moments later.

A dry and compact mouth, with a long and very pleasant aftertaste was what integrated the experience. I think it was the first time for me, tasting umami in a wine.

Our night ended with 5-6 red wines, but I couldn’t take my mind off the Santorini we had tasted earlier. I left the place holding the empty bottle and with an impulse desire to describe what I had tasted. Unfortunately, finding again such a successful aging of Assyrtiko is bound to take long. But who said it isn’t worth waiting for?

Written by Ilias Roussakis, Posted in The Wine Blog

About the Author

Ilias Roussakis

Ilias is a wine expert and one of the founding members of Wine in Santorini.

Comments (2)

  • Ifigeneia Synodinou
    Ifigeneia Synodinou
    03 March 2011 at 22:09 |

    Great review and great site in general! Very classy! Keep up the good work and those blog posts coming!

  • Fanis Sklinos
    Fanis Sklinos
    03 March 2011 at 18:15 |

    Excellent review. Wish I was there to taste it as well! Ilias, as always your writing on wine is educated and precise.

    Best regards, can't wait to visit again!

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