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Our Best-Selling Island White Returns! 60-Year-Old Vines and Volcanic Soils Deliver Again!
May 4, 2020

Debut and Arrival: The Indigenous and Transporting Mediterranean White from the Volcanic Soils and the Old Gnarly Vines of Santorini. Discover Why This Summer Crowd-Pleaser Has Outsold the Prized Whites of Burgundy and Sancerre!

“If they said ‘Burgundy’ and not ‘Greece’ on the label, you could double or triple the price for the regular whites and no one would blink an eye…. This is one of the island's great estates and a benchmark…”
- Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

We emphatically agree with this critical assessment of today’s featured wine. It’s a white that can be as viscerally thrilling as the celebrated crus of Burgundy, the Grosses Gewächs (GGs) of Germany, and prized whites of Chavignol. The wine we are talking about may surprise you, but it’s the 2019 Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko! For us, this Mediterranean gem is capable of transporting us to Greek Islands for a brief moment and delivering a truly unique “vacation in a glass wine” experience. In fact, there is not a single white wine that I have sold more of over the past ten years — it is that special of a crowd-pleasing wine.

Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko is one of the great terroir-driven, indigenous white wine values on the planet. What we love about the deep-rooted, 60-year-old vine Assyrtiko from Sigalas is its signature purity, understated concentration, minerality, zip, bite, and juiciness that lend complexity to the palate. Simply put, there is a vibrancy and spectrum of nuances that you just don’t find at this price point, and along with the value comes plenty of history! As one critic put it, “It’s a liquid landscape of Santorini, from the clean, salty scent of a white-sand beach to the blinding brightness of the white limed buildings, telegraphed here in sunny, pithy lemon flavors.”

With temperatures now finally hitting the 70-degree mark this past weekend, we could not think of a more appropriate time to introduce this best-selling white wine. Owing to unusually harsh winds in the Islands, it should be noted that the 2019 vintage on Santorini is the smallest harvest in since 1991. Yields were down a whopping 30%. Stock up while you can.

Featured Wines: The Highly Anticipated Debut from Sigalas
(Click to Order)

You should know that the 2019 is a worthy follow-up to this wine’s past accolades, where it has received the Top Wine of the Year honors, and the Wine Advocate declared that “Sigalas is one of Greece's finest white wine producers - in fact, a short list candidate for the best.” For myself, and IWM, it is simple: this is one of the greatest values in white wine. The unique and fun Assyrtiko [pronounced: A seer' tee ko] is an ancient white grape indigenous to the island of Santorini. This is one of the rare winemaking regions of the world that has not been attacked by phylloxera, due in part to the high percentage of sand found in volcanic soil. Because of their resistance to phylloxera the vines have retained their original rootstock, something unusual in the world of wine today.

Santorini is also beset by incredibly high winds, necessitating a unique method of vine training. The method is called kouloura, and entails weaving the vine into a basket-like shape to keep the clusters close to the ground where they are less susceptible to being blown off by gusts. Even with this system of training, the high winds take their toll on yields. Sigalas’s yield for the 2015 vintage was 11hl/ha (compare with Domaine de la Romanée Conti, where the average yield is 23hl/ha). There is no machine-harvesting on the island and, as you can imagine, the harvest is an incredibly arduous process, much of which is undertaken on hands and knees.

Additional Notes and Reviews:

“Sigalas is one of Greece’s finest white wine producers — in fact, a short list candidate for the best. I would like to take credit for that conclusion, but there is not much dissent here. This producer is universally acclaimed for his skill with Assyrtiko of all types — dry, barrel fermented and sweet and I can only climb on the bandwagon. Sigalas is simply a master with this grape.”
- Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

2019 Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko

Christopher Deas, Italian Wine Merchants: "For me, there are few wines transport and capture the Mediterranean Sea and sundrenched fruit and put it in the glass like Sigalas. The thoroughbred of Greek wine returns with yet another worthy follow-up. Sigalas's basic assyrtiko is intoxicating on the nose with its signature notes of citrus, minerality, herbs, and crushed seashells that are just hint at what is to follow. On the palate, this is a concentrated expression that is most tongue-staining, just echoing throughout and finding focus for a lingering finish. There is abundance of nuances — gobs of sundrenched citrus fruit, with orange blossoms, orange peel, lemon, lime, grapefruit, prickly spice, white pepper, herbs, and huge underlying salinity and chalkiness. While it is balancing and needed acidity and minerality, there is tremendous body that gains texture as it warms up in the glass — an almost peach-juice, glycerin like texture. It is one of those unique wines offering concentration and texture, alongside energy and focus — a yin and yang for the best of both worlds. There is a coiled core here that suggests further aging; it's approachability combined with age-ability under $40. This wine is tremendous with grilled prawns, steamed mussels, and even winter fare like cheese fondue. This may sound redundant, but bravo for a repeat performance. Delicious and age-worthy! Unfortunately, allocations are more limited this year. Serve chilled."

2017 Domaine Sigalas Santorini 7 Villages Megalochori Village
The 2017 7 Villages Megalochori Village is all Assyrtiko coming in with 3.2 grams of residual sugar, 6.6 grams of total acidity and 14.3% alcohol. Nicely balanced, this nonetheless seems to show off rich and ripe fruit, a big finish and fine concentration. There is a reductive trace, but not much. The 2016 may have been a little more exciting, but this is perhaps better balanced and equally likely to age well. It still shows as one of the brighter and livelier wines in this group. I liked it a lot. The long finish is rather exciting and simply gripping, especially as it warms up.

2017 Domaine Sigalas Santorini 7 Villages Fira Village
The 2017 7 Villages Fira Village is all unoaked Assyrtiko, dry (1.9 grams of sugar and 7.05 grams of total acidity) and coming in at 14.3% alcohol. One of the brightest of this group of 2017s, this has a livelier and sunnier feel on opening, with the fruit dancing over the palate. Like its 2016 predecessor, it seems lighter on opening than it actually is. If you let it sit on the palate, then it shows off its fruit—and its controlled power, with a gripping finish. As it warms, it just balances the power with crispness and some elegance. Then it adds expressive fruit too. It is flavorful and precise. The long finish might be its best feature, proving that it has some intensity too. This showed much better the next day, by the way. This is very fine, and poised to age well. It should improve in the cellar.

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All my best,