Australia has its first wine made from the Greek white wine variety assyrtiko - and it happened by accident.
After a 10-year journey, Clare Valley winery Jim Barry Wines this week released 500 cases of Australia’s first commercial assyrtiko.
Peter Barry, the extrovert managing director of Jim Barry Wines, first tasted assyrtiko in 2006 whilst on holiday with his wife Sue on the Greek island of Santorini, and again the following year at the London Wine Fair.
Ten years on, following a lengthy process of importation and quarantine of the cuttings, the 2016 Jim Barry Assyrtiko can now be shared with Australian consumers.
Barry said that when he first tried the Greek varietal, it stood out to him as a wine potentially suited to the modern Australian palate. On observing similarities between the climate on Santorini and the Clare, he decided the Clare would be an ideal region to grow the variety.
“The fresh, crisp, acidic qualities of the wine are perfect accompaniments to contemporary Australian food – it is a natural partner for the Australian climate and cuisine,” Barry said.
“While the laborious process of importation and quarantine of cuttings has discouraged many growers in Australia from trying something new, I, like my father, have an interest in growing grapes that have a sustainable future in our region.
"Santorini has an arid climate, with an average rainfall of 300mm. With the advent of climate change and global warming, assyrtiko is a variety that is well suited to the changing landscape of Australian winemaking.
“Similar to the distinct flavours of our site specific rieslings (namely The Florita, Watervale and Lodge Hill), assyrtiko provides a true expression of terroir.
“We look forward to sharing this wonderful variety with Australia.”
The 2016 Jim Barry Wines Assyrtiko has already made an impression, winning the 2016 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show Chief of Judge's Wine to Watch Award last Friday.
For more information visit www.jimbarry.com.au or phone (08) 8842 2261.