It’s quite a rare sight, pure Aidani, but if you’re a fan of Santorini wines it’s worth tracking down. Aidani’s destiny on the island of Santorini is mostly identical with another ancient Greek grape, Athiri. That is, to back up the great one, Assyrtiko. But then you taste the pure Aidani from Hatzidakis and realizes it manages perfectly, to stand on its own feet.
Assyrtiko is one of the oldest, greatest and most unique grapes we know of. The way it has adapted to a life in the volcanic soil of Santorini, how it handles the wind and heat, is nothing but fascinating. The producers has found out though, that a dash of Aidani (and Athiri) especially, adds roundness to an Assyrtiko which can have a quite pungent acididty in its early youth. But despite the floral aromas Aidani never takes charge over the show. Assyrtiko and its majestic expression of minerality is still the master, allowed to shine.
More recently Aidani has, thanks to a few producers, been given more attention. The pure versions from Argyros and Hatzidakis, has demonstrated a complexity of Santorini which few of us knew much about before. Hatzidakis cultivates their Aidani on an altitude between 70 meters above the sea level, to roughly 300 meters. The farming is organically run and the intervention in the cellar aims to be as minimal as possible. To give an example; the total amount of sulfur in the 2013 Aidani from Hatzidakis is at 76 mg/l. EU legislation allows for up to 170 mg/l of sulfur in an organic wine where the residual sugar level is between 2 and 5 g/l.
Yields are low and the vines are between 10 and 20 years old. Before crushing the grapes, they’re cooled down. The wine is also allowed skin contact for 12 hours. Hatzidakis only use indigenous yeast and the fermentation of the 2013 took a month (at 17-18 C). No filtration.
2013 Aidani, Hatzidakis, Santorini
Already the color indicates you’re up to something different; golden yellow with a hint of orange light amber. The nose is gorgeous; generous and youthful with scents of white peaches, pears, wet rocks, orange peel and summer flowers. A slight herbal touch as well and the sea breeze is also noted. I wouldn’t describe it as elegant but it surely is charming as few. On the palate you’re instantly reminded why it’s popular to blend with Assyrtiko. The roundness is without doubt the first impression I write down. Quite fullbodied, ripe fruit, peaches and quince. A subtle hint of tannins. Lots of oozing wet rocks, lots of it. A note of toffee as well althought it’s purely steel tank aged. Long, pure finish.
Hatzidakis 2013 Aidani makes you happy; it’s a fun wine to drink. A pretty darn good one as well. Does it age just as well as an Assyrtiko? Time will tell although I don’t see the point of giving it much more than three or four years from harvest. Then again, I’m in general not much for aging my white wines too long. Put Greece on your wine map, start discovering the indigenous grapes of the country, approach them with an open mind. You’ll be rewarded.
Locate the wine in your country with a little help from wine-searcher. Retailers of Hatzidakis wines, feel free to comment on the wine’s availability in your store(s).
* There’s 9,000 bottles produced of the 2013. Limited yes, but not impossible to locate the wine.