Island Finds: Distinctive wines from remote vineyards

Assyrtiko vines trained in the traditional kouloura system on the volcanic soils of Santorini.

Encircled by the azure expanses of the world’s oceans and existing within the obscurity of their isolated locales, islands are often overlooked when it comes to wine production. Yet a growing interest in indigenous varieties and distinctive terroirs is bringing about change, along with improvements in quality.

Vineyards on islands often perch on dramatic landscapes – from the igneous expanses of Santorini, Lanzarote and Pantelleria to the sun-drenched shores and mountainous inland terrains of Sardinia and Corsica.

Rocky outcrops and volcanic soils impart a distinctive minerality, while proximity to the sea and elevation contribute to refreshing acidity and purity of styles. As a result, these wines are not only vibrant and expressive but, when crafted with care, also garner acclaim from some of the world’s most esteemed wine experts.

Scroll down to discover 14 island treasures from DWWA 2023

The results of the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) offer myriad styles for inquisitive island-wine seekers to explore, flagging up quality wines from both classic and more obscure regions.

From Santorini and its increasingly well-known Assyrtiko, with its bracing acidity and saline minerality, or Sicily and its Nerello Mascalese, often referred to as the ‘Barolo of the South’ for its structure and elegance, to Campania’s heroic viticultural sites on Ischia – there’s excitement and accomplished winemaking to be found in abundance.

Below uncover 14 from the 2023 competition, with more to seek out at awards.decanter.com

Island Finds: Distinctive wines from remote vineyards
Island standouts

Kyanos, Orycton, Santorini, Greece 2021

Best in Show, 97 points
If you’ve never tried a dry Santorini white, you’re in for a treat. Ancient Assyrtiko vines, grown in curled basket form to protect against incessant wind and an unrelenting sun, send their roots deep into the pumice and tephra soils of the volcanic island. The result is a piercingly dry white whose ‘mineral’ character seems to outstrip that of any other wine, both aromatically and in its flavour: a distinctive, thick-textured mouthful in which lemon and lemon pith mingle with a salty, mineral-oil richness. Alcohol 14.5%

Mecori, Duo, Etna, Sicily, Italy 2021

Best in Show, 97 points
A compelling blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from vineyards high on Sicily’s far-from-dormant volcano. A wine of this type from Etna can be horizon-altering. It offers light, graceful, aerial scents of hedgerow bramble fruit and wild strawberries. Graceful and poised in the mouth, the fruits take on a perfumed sheen, the delicate acidity joined by plump tannins and a root-spice freshness. The flavours may be southerly, but in other respects, you might guess that this comes from much further north. Alc 14%


Barone Di Miceli, Femina Bianco, Etna, Sicily 2022

Platinum, 97 points
Pure apricot, peach and zesty lemon fruit infused with a delicate wet stone mineral charm. Beautifully sapid and entrancing with mouthwatering concentration, crisp acidity and a lovely long, saline finish. Alc 12.5%

Morgante, Don Antonio Nero d’Avola Riserva, Sicily 2019

Gold, 95 points 
£31.18 (2014) Sommelier’s Choice, US$40-$49 B-21, Mr D, Vintage Cellar, Wine.com, Yiannis
Rippling bramble, blueberry and red cherry fruit offset with smoky bacon, tobacco and coffee, spilling out onto a concentrated, silky-smooth palate. Long and opulent. Alc 15%

Cantina Tani, Serranu, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardinia 2019

Gold, 95 points 
Ample garrigue herbs, gentle spice and warm summer berries enfolded in a plush creamy texture and an undercurrent of satin tannins. Long, savoury finish. Alc 14.5%

Ferruccio Deiana, Sileno Riserva, Cannonau di Sardegna, Sardinia 2019

Gold, 95 points 
A flawless purity of rose petals and black…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/decanter-world-wine-awards/island-finds-distinctive-wines-from-remote-vineyards-530021/