Best Value Santorini Assyrtiko: Sigalas or Hatzidakis?

Best Value Santorini Assyrtiko: Sigalas or Hatzidakis?

  • Sigalas
  • Hatzidakis

0 voters

Well, we’re almost done with the Legendary QPR… thread. We just need to decide which Santorini Assyrtiko to pick:

Sigalas is more popular, but has one or two objection as to its value for its entry level table wines.

Hatzidakis is less popular, but has no objections.

Not commenting on the quality of Sigalas, just wondering how Sigalas could be great QPR if it is the most expensive producer in Santorini? :smiley:

I love Sigalas. We have a problem sourcing Hatzidakis. I like the non oaked versions.

Sigalas the most expensive producer on Santorini? Wow. This must have happened when I wasn’t watching :slight_smile:.

One thing to bear in mind when talking about Hatzidakis is that it very much makes sense to see the wines as pre-2017 and post-2017. There was pretty much a complete overhaul following Haridimos’ suicide in 2016. To me the current wines taste nothing like the winery’s pre-2017 wines.

How sad.

Well, this was what I witnessed when visiting more than half of the producers in Santorini in 2016. I don’t know how local prices for imported bottles are different, or if the prices have changed wildly in a few years, but at least there the pricing was pretty crazy compared to the rest of the producers.

I bought at least a bottle from every place we visited, except for Santo Wines (because the wines weren’t that good) and Sigalas (because the prices were quite absurd compared to the rest of the producers).

That might be true. I haven’t had any vintages made after Haridimos’ passing.

We visited Haridimos a few years prior to his passing. They were in the process of building a new winery at the time. The Mylos bottling from 100-year-old, ungrafted, Assyrtiko vines grown in an old monastery vineyard, was sensational. Ironically, Haridimos shared with us that he was the Importer, or Broker, for Zind-Humbrecht on Santorini. Great visit.

Lucky man, you. He was simply one of a kind. So were his wines. Mylos VV was quite something. Did you have a chance to taste the Louros (previously known as Pyrgos) bottling with him? Those were the oldest vines he worked with. Unique.

Can’t address the cellar-door pricing, it’s been a long, long time (way before 2016), and happy to take your word for it, just somewhat surprised based on the market prices for these wines across the EU (mostly the German and Dutch, but also the Greek market, in my case) over the last 15+ years. I’ve been buying Santorini since the early 2000s, and Sigalas was certainly never the front runner in terms of pricing. I used to buy lots of Sigalas in the early days, the Assyrtiko-Athiri blend and the unoaked Santorini were great values (the latter, arguably, also a great wine in some vintages), but then lost interest somewhat as he started expanding his range. True, some of the Kavalieros and Oia single vineyard bottlings were very good, but I still felt the focus and the quality across the range were being diluted, while prices continued to increase.
Still, leaving aside Argyrou’s legendary, long-aged VinSanto, I never had the impression Sigalas’ wines were really pushing the bar in terms of pricing. Hatzidakis’ Pyrgos/Louros was, I think, the first “dry” Santorini wine that broke the 50EUR retail threshold. Which was soon followed by Acroterra and Karamolegos with his myriad single vineyard whatever bottlings… (also Stegasta, but that’s not Santorini…)
Bottom line: these days, unless you’re comparing to Burgundy or some long-established cult producers elsewhere, I think it’s really difficult to speak of Santorini in terms of QPR. As a group, these are on average far and away the most expensive wines in Greece (with very few contenders elsewhere). Santorini and QPR, that was 10 or 15 years ago. That ship has sailed :slight_smile:.
In my view, the only relative high-quality QPR on Santorini these days is Gavala (incidentally, their unoaked Santorini stylistically and qualitywise very much resembles what Sigalas’ Santorini used to be).
BTW, totally concur on Santo: given the context… what’s the point??? :slight_smile:

I have shorter experience, having found the wines only in the early 2010’s.

Nevertheless, Santorini has advanced quite a lot in the past two decades. After all, after Boutari brought modernized winemaking to the island, Sigalas was the one who pushed the envelope much further, quality-wise, when they started. I can imagine that in the early 2000’s the pricing was wildly different from what it is now and the wines must’ve been much better than what was produced elsewhere in Santorini.

However, quality-wise, the difference between Sigalas and the other quality-minded producers seems quite minuscule now - at least it did when we were going from one winery to another, visiting the different producers. Pricing not only at the cellar door but also throughout Santorini shops indicated the Sigalas wines were noticeably more expensive than the rest of the producers (Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko retailing at 20€ compared to the average price of 13-15€ for most of the other producers; Kavalieros retailing at approx. 30€ compared to the other producers’ single-vineyard wines retailing at 20-25€; and Nykteri retailing at whopping 45€, compared to the other producers’ 20-25€). Haven’t seen much Sigalas around here, but can’t remember a single time seeing their wines in an internet shop and thinking what a bargain that is. Of course, it might be that you know of a great source from where one can buy Sigalas wines at very reasonable prices - and if you do, I’m very much interested!

Re: Gavalas - their wines felt quite reasonably priced, but most of the wines really didn’t feel particularly memorable to me, including their reliable but quite run-of-the-mill Assyrtiko. For example Argyros Assyrtiko, Artemis Karamolegos Assyrtiko and Gaia’s négo-wine Thalassitis were (and most likely are) at the same price point, but all seemed to be of higher quality. Although this certainly is just a matter of taste and what one looks for in a wine. Their Vinsanto was silly good, though.

Yes, we did. I have never seen the wine since. He was very generous with his time and enjoyed our enthusiasm for the wines. For us the Hatzidakis wines were singular on Santorini just as the Liatiko wines from Domaine Economou were for Crete. I highly recommend a visit to Economou in Ziros, Crete.

Agree about Mylos VV. This bottle is the single greatest Assyrtiko I’ve ever tasted.

2015-06-13 20.00.05 HDR.jpg

Yes, he was something else, wasn’t he. Incidentally, the other guy you mention, Giannis Economou, might be the only other Greek winemaker I could mention in the same breath as Haridimos. You clearly have great taste in Greek wine. If you’re ever in Brussels, I’ll be glad to open a bottle of Louros for you. Having said that, while Hatzidakis and Economou were, and remain, completely “sui generis”, also worth checking out, in case you haven’t already: Sklavos, Kefalonia. Another maverick, not quite on the same level, if you ask me (who else is?), but sometimes tantalisingly close.

As you probably know, Hatzidakis was Boutari’s chief operative on Santorini as soon as, or right after, Boutari moved in. Soon after, Haridimos started with his own wines (late '90s): he was the real game changer. Paraskevopoulos/Gaia moved in very early on as well, their Thalassitis was a reference wine in the early ‘00s (and remains so to this very day, “nego” or not, ages really well too), and so was the Wild Ferment a couple of years on. Argyrou, who had been around forever, upped the ante with their dry wines as well, and in a big way. Sigalas was one of the handful of producers driving the sea-change at this stage, but by no means the top dog, if you ask me. Maybe no.3 or no.4, at least in my book.
Sigalas’ straight Santorini used to be in the 15-20EUR (retail) price range for quite a long time (and broadly available… to the extent that any Santorini wines were broadly available in the EU market… if you knew where to look). Once it was past that mark, it wasn’t so much that immediately I lost interest because of the price hike, so I continued to buy, but there were several vintages in a row where I felt the focus was no longer there, so these days it’s no more than an occasional one-or-two-bottle purchase for me. Still very good, but, to my palate, not as concentrated or focussed as it used to be. These days, the best pricing I’m aware of is 24-25EUR, in case you’re still interested :slight_smile:. His higher-end wines, which, just to be clear, I sometimes buy, could never hold a candle to Hatzidakis anyway. The Bareli was never even in the ballpark. The Nyhteri… no discussion in my world. Haridimos made the very best Nyhteris, no one else has even come close.
I get what you’re saying about Gavala. But, in my experience, they do need a bit of coaxing, time, and patience. Not the best wines on Santorini, but, as I said, a relative QPR in a place where QPR is a bit thin on the ground these days, and, again, in my opinion, close in style to what Sigalas was like before the “expansion”.

Thank you for the generosity and for the insight regarding Producers to check out. It’s one thing to taste the Economou wines. However, spending the afternoon in Ziros and the eve in Sitia with Giannis was amazing and easily one of the most memorable Producer visits for us from anywhere in the World.

Great data points with good recent-historical perspective, thanks!

Yes, I knew about Hatzidakis’ history and I do agree Thalassitis ages really well (I have a mini-vertical of the wines stashed away, myself) but did not know how highly regarded it has apparently been, early on.

At 15-20€ I do agree that Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko has been great value. However, not that much at ~25€, since we’ve had a few Assyrtikos here in Finland (where wines get ridiculously pricey) at 15-20€. For example Gaia Thalassitis (a wine, which I consider - as mentioned before - to be of better quality than Sigalas Assyrtiko) retailed at 18-19€ here. At 25€ plus shipping, that Sigalas entry-level Assyrtiko doesn’t really sound like a bargain.

I’ve never had Hatzidakis’ Nykteri, but everybody who has tasted them has told me they are easily the best in Santorini - a claim I happily can believe, after this many testimonies.

And yes, I do agree the good QPR of the Gavalas wines. They’re not particularly flashy wines, but the pricing (at least in Santorini) was very competitive.

Any views on Art Space wines? Their Santorini Assyrtiko was easily among the most singular expressions of the grape I’ve come across. Not particularly typical, but thrilling in its own, sauvage way. I can imagine his style is not for everybody.


It really defined Assyrtiko for me. Nothing I had tasted previously(or since) was as inspiring. Fortunately, I have been able to drink the wine numerous times, from multiple vintages, and each bottle was equally compelling.

Agree on all counts. Did you get to meet Natassa as well? She deserves a shout-out, too :slight_smile:
(Ziros is magical. Even the nearby monastery makes a VERY good wine…)

Barely. A total of two bottles, Aidani and Nyhteri. Loved the Nyhteri, didn’t care that much about the Aidani (I hardly ever do :slight_smile: ). Interesting, though (these two came from Greece as a gift, how much do they sell for?).