On the island of Santorini, which is referred to by foreign travel guides as Greece's best vine region, a sweet wine was produced and continues to be made from sun-dried grapes without any added sugar or alcohol, and aged for at least 2 years in oak barrels.
It is the most authentic continuation of 'passos' sweet wine as the ancients used to call it, which the islands of the Aegean Sea are famous for.
During the Middle Ages merchant, crusader and worshipper ships on their way to Constantinople, to the ports of the White Sea, the Venetian markets and to the Holy Land supplied themselves with this sweet wine by stopping off at Santo Erini-Santorini, as the ancient volcanic island of Thera had been baptized, most likely by Italian sailors, during the Dark Ages.
The 'passos' of Thera took the name Santo from the first component of the island's new name. This name became vino di Santorini - vino Santo, Vinsanto during the years of the Frankish occupation in the Venetian markets and across the eastern Mediterranean.
This name - in Greek 'Βινσάντο' - has survived until today. It simply means: wine of Santorini, and stands for the island's traditional sun-dried wine. And so it is a 'historical name of origin' and one of the very few that have remained 'alive' and is now protected in Greece.
It is a naturally sweet VQPRD (vin de qualité produit dans une region determinée) of Santorini and, in other words, is produced from the island's white varieties Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. The wine owes its colour to the grapes' exposure to the sun for 12 to 15 days and also to its ageing in oak barrels.
Why do we age our Vinsanto for 6 years at Hatzidakis Winery?
Regulations concerning Vinsanto make it clear that it is compulsory to age the wine in oak barrels for 2 years.
Behind the 6-year ageing process of Hatzidakis Vinsanto hides a little story ...which Konstantina's mother used to tell her children.
Konstantina Chrysou Hatzidakis' grandfather, Iakovos Zorzos, was a viticulturalist. He had his own 'canava' (winery) in the northern part of the village of Pyrgos Kallisti where he made his own homemade wine just like most of the families on Santorini did.
He had 12 children with his wife Margarita. Each time one of their children was born, they wrote the name of the child on the Vinsanto barrel of that year. When the child reached 6 years of age they would open the barrel and drink the wine.
Charidimos and Konstantina did the same thing. When their daughter Stella was born it was the first year of production of the Hatzidaki Vinsanto and when she turned 6, in 2003, they bottled their first Vinsanto and put it on the market!
In this way they kept the family tradition going and they discovered that their grandfather must have known a little secret because after 6 years of ageing in oak barrels, the wine acquired a particularly unique character and a wonderful colour.