2022 Gaia Thalassitis Santorini

It's like Grand Cru Chablis at half the price: 2022 Gaia 'Thalassitis' Santorini

I honestly didn't think white wine could get more stony and mineralic than Chablis.....until I had a bottle of this masterpiece of a Greek white last Saturday. Gaia Winery is one of the jewels on the Greek island of Santorini, and in my estimation, they have mastered the intricacies of the Assyrtiko grape.

This will go down as one of my top 3 wines of 2024. Powerful, structured, deeply mineralic. - Josh Spurling - Wine Monger

While Decanter (Britain's top wine publication) had this at 95 points and the Wine Advocate rated it 94, I think it's worthy of 96-97 points. This is as pure, energetic, and terroir-driven as white wine gets, and there's a good reason why Gaia's Thalassitis is considered one of the standard-bearers of the indigenous Assyrtiko grape.

2022 Gaia Thalassitis Santorini

96-97 points Yours Truly, 95 points Decanter, 94+ points Wine Advocate 

I enjoyed a bottle of this over the course of 2 days this past weekend, and I can't stop pondering its grandeur. Powerful, intensely mineralic, and deeply complex, this full-bodied white is one for the ages. A word to the wise -- give this plenty of air (it was better on day 2), and drink it over the next 10-15 years.  

Please heed my instructions on this one folks. Decant this for a good 2 hours if you want to experience it at its best. I know it sounds weird to decant a white wine, but these old, un-grafted Assyrtiko vines grown in the sandy soils of Santorini yield one of the most powerful white wines on the planet. 

Thalassitis is produced from very low-yielding, very old, self-rooted vines grown on volcanic slopes. In case you didn't know, the vine louse phylloxera never "took hold" in Santorini, and experts believe it's due to the inhospitable character of the island's soils. The nutrient-poor, well-drained soils are composed largely of volcanic pumice; a uniquely harsh environment in which Assyrtiko is one of the few grapes that can thrive.

As many of you know, poor soils yield great wines, and this is a world-class effort. At first, the wine is quite shy -- it smells and tastes of wet rock, slate, and briny oyster shells. I quite like it at this early stage, but trust me, it gets better with air and just a slight rise in temperature. The fruit fills in, revealing wonderfully pure varietal notes of lemon, tangerine, citrus pith, grated ginger, and Mediterranean herbs.

In the wise words of Michaela Morris of Decanter, it's "very steely" with "stately acidity" and a "belting finish." It really does mimic some of the righteousness of a Grand Cru Chablis, and I think by the time 2024 wraps up, I'll have this down as one of my top 3 white wines of the year.

This is a wine that takes you straight to Greece, the sea, and salty air. It just needs a sunny day on your back porch with some grilled octopus and summer veggies.

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