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 Filed as : Wine TipsViticulture

All Your Grapes In One Basket

Mar 31, 2011
All Your Grapes In One Basket
This easy-drinking wine is made of grapes very tough to grow.

young_vines_5A couple weeks ago, we let you know about a Greek grape called Assyrtiko. It produces a light, crisp wine that isn't terribly complex in aroma or flavor, but is ever so easy to sip on a nice summer day. Little did we know, however, that growing Assyrtiko grapes is anything but easy. Complex, in fact, is putting it mildly.

See the image above? That's not a wreath to wear at a toga party. It's an Assyrtiko vine growing on the Greek island of Santorini. The reason the vines are trained into the shape of a basket--with the grapes growing on the inside and the leaves growing on the outside--is to protect the grapes from the heat and wind. At night, the baskets trap and hold in a little bit of evening fog, providing a little bit of moisture that the vine needs to make it through those hot, Greek-island days.

assyrtiko_vine_pictureIt takes an incredible amount of skill and patience over several years to train grapevines into the baskets, called ampelies. Each year after harvest, the weakest branches are snipped out and the strongest ones are woven into the perfect position on top of the previous year's canes. This builds the walls of the basket higher each year. It's painstaking work, but the result isn't just a tasty wine, it's a vine that can keep growing high-quality grapes for a century or longer.

The extra effort required makes us appreciate Assyrtiko much more than we used to (click here to find an Assyrtiko available near you). Which has us wondering which you prefer more: A wine that might not taste especially interesting but some serious blood, sweat and tears went into making it, or a wine that tastes good but doesn't have much of a human touch? Share your thoughts with us below.




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Better Wines, Better Deals
First Jay-Z, Now Gaga

Mar 31, 2011
I always like trying new and interesting wines, especaiallly those with a good story behind them. However, when it comes to getting a second glass or buying another bottle, the story becomes less important than the taste.

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What was the first Vitis vinifera variety planted in California?

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