Surrounded by dazzling turquoise-blue waters, the mountainous island of Cephalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands in western Greece. It’s also an island with its very own white grape variety: Robola.
Blessed with chalky soils, limestone bedrock, high altitude, and hot, dry summers, Cephalonia is the perfect place for the expression of this delightful indigenous grape.
I, for one, completely fell in love with Robola the very first time I tasted its wine. It happened to be a bottle from Gentilini, a family-run winery that has found its bliss growing local, classic grape varieties with modern, up-to-the-minute growing and winemaking techniques.
And the 2009 Robola is a beautiful specimen of Gentilini’s expertise…
Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia
Grapes: 100% Robola
Serve lightly chilled.
Shimmery-lemon-colored with golden highlights, the wine looks luscious and rich. It bursts with youthful aromas of grapefruit and lemon zest, unripe stone fruits, white blossoms, subtle almond notes and delightful minerality. In the mouth, the wine is smooth and round. The citrus flavors mellow (reminiscent of lemon curd) while the crisp acidity and slightly salty mineral notes make every taste bud stir.
With all that going for itself, Gentilini’s Robola is an extraordinarily food-friendly wine that would be right at home with seafood, poultry and any salty hors d’oeuvre. But I found it exceptional with my roasted asparagus salad with Valencia oranges and ginger-citrus vinaigrette. The citrus notes paired perfectly with the orange-lime vinaigrette, while the medium-bodied and luscious Robola stood up to the robust flavors of the roasted asparagus. Its crisp acidity begs for a dish that can complement it and the vinaigrette did just that. Even the almond notes tinkered with the lightly toasted sesame seeds.
Complex, balanced, vibrant, fresh, alive – all this comes to mind when sipping Gentilini’s Robola… as well as dreams of a trip to this enchanted part of the world.
Where to buy Greek wines
In the US: Astor Wines in New York City has a wonderful selection of Greek wines. They ship around the country. My advice is to start with any of the wines above $12.
Grand Wine & Liquor in Astoria, New York also carries many Greek wines. Not all are listed on their site, so call the store directly at (718) 728-2520. They ship!
In Europe: 600 Bottles sells outstanding Greek wines online.
Where to taste Greek wines
One of the best ways to taste Greek wines is in restaurants. In New York, Sommelier Michael Madrigale of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud features many superb Greek wines on his wine lists, including vintages available nowhere else. Molyvos has an outstanding wine list offering wines from every part of Greece. Snack Taverna has a small but excellent wine list. They also offer wines by the glass.