Wine varietals and styles

Get to know assyrtiko

By Halliday Wine Companion

18 Jan, 2023

Here's your guide to the Greek grape variety, assyrtiko [ah-seer-teeko].

Go to section: Assyrtiko tasting characteristics | Origins of assyrtiko | How to pair food with assyrtiko | Serving temperature for assyrtiko | The best Australian assyrtiko regions

Assyrtiko wine

Assyrtiko is a Greek grape variety that produces fresh, crisp and dry white wines. You'll like assyrtiko if you like chablis, riesling, sauvignon blanc, or other citrus-forward, high-acid, mineral wine.

Greece landscapeNative to Greece, assyrtiko produces a crisp, dry white wine.

Assyrtiko tasting characteristics

More of a textural variety than an aromatic one, assyrtiko wines are crisp, mineral and structured with high acidity – a trait retained even when the grapes are super ripe. While examples from Santorini tend to show more freshness, power and minerality than those from the rest of Greece (especially those aged in oak), common characteristics include lemon, lime, passionfruit, flint and saline.

Origins of assyrtiko

Assyrtiko is native to Santorini, where its vines are trained in a basket shape and kept close to the ground to protect the grapes from the island’s harsh sun and high winds.

Today, assyrtiko is widely planted in the volcanic soil of Santorini, where it produces the lean, mineral and concentrated PDO Santorini wines, but it is increasingly being grown in many other Greek wine regions. There are even small plantings in the United States.

Try these examples from Greece: 2020 Estate Argyros Assyrtiko (Santorini), 2021 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko (Santorini), 2021 Kir-Yianni Assyrtiko (Amyndeon).

Jim Barry drinking a glass of winePeter Barry first planted assyrtiko in 2012.

How to pair food with assyrtiko

Pair assyrtiko with anything you’d eat on a Greek island: shellfish, grilled fish and octopus, salad with tomato, feta and olives, even lamb.

Serving temperature for assyrtiko

The ideal serving temperature for assyrtiko is 8–10 degrees.

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The best Australian assyrtiko wine regions

In Australia, Jim Barry Wines in the Clare Valley is the country's only commercial producer of assyrtiko. Third-generation winemaker Peter Barry first planted the variety in 2012 at the family’s Lodge Hill vineyard after tasting it while on holiday in Santorini in 2006.

Immediately understanding it to be a natural partner to both Australia’s climate and cuisine, Barry began the process of importing cuttings from Argyros Estate in Santorini, before releasing his first vintage in 2014.

Across eight modules, Halliday Wine Academy's Introduction to Wine course offers a detailed look at the Australia wine landscape. Learn about wine varietals, Australian wine regions, how wine is made, how to taste and describe wine, how to approach food and wine matches, along with handy tips that address common wine questions.

Image credit: Wine Australia.