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Santorini wines bring cheer

- by Dabs Banner

'winemaker makes it into world top three'.

Trips to the local taverna are a staple diet of any Greek Islands holiday but visitors are usually reluctant to select a bottle of Greek wine to go with their evening meal. Although Greece and the Greek Islands are dotted with vineyards, the wine of Greece has not really enjoyed the best of reputations.

That is fast changing as Greek wines enjoy something of a renaissance, with the Boutari winemakers of the popular Cycladic holiday island of Santorini leading the way.

One of the leading wine publications, Wine & Spirits magazine, has once again placed Boutari among its top 100 wineries in the world, for the 17th year running.

The accolade takes Boutari to third place in the magazine's hall of fame for the most regularly honoured of world class winemakers.

Top is the Australian winemaker Penfolds which has hit the top 100 no less than 23 times, followed by the US wine producer Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Chilean winery Concha y Toro, which have both been honoured 19 times.

Every year the magazine holds blind wine-tasting session for wine specialists to evaluate the best labels.

And each year Boutari wines score very highly among the magazine's panels and critics. Current vintages of Boutari's wines are now placed among the top five best wineries in the world.

Such regular achievement is impressive for any winery, but it's particularly impressive for Greece which was notorious for producing barrels of poor quality plonk as recently as the 1980's.

Greek islands once famed in antiquity for their fine wines were turning out bottles of dire Domestika as vineyards were dug up daily to make way for new hotels.

Boutari started its vineyards on Santorini in 1989, taking advantage of the dry climate and the rich volcanic soils and has since transformed the island into one of the most valued regions for world class wines.

It now has 200 acres planted with vines and produces 750,000 cases a year. Boutari has now started up on the island of Crete, in the Peloponnese and near Thessalonika.