The star of Ionian winemaking is without doubt Cephalonia, (or Kefalonia) which excels in Robola (Ro bo’ la), a native variety not to be confused with Italy’s Ribolla Gialla. Slightly flowery and moderately fruity, Robola wines have nerve and mineral tones. It has some of the style of Assyrtiko, though with less intensity and complexity, and less body.
It is cultivated mainly in the valley after which it is named, at an altitude of 350-800m, in poor calcareous soils – so poor in fact that Robola was called “wine of stone” (Vino di Sasso) by the Italians.
Robola Valley, cooled by the winds from the unique ecosystem of Mount Ainos, has a distinctive mesoclimate and yields modern wines with finesse from vines that are very old, as phylloxera is a relative stranger that has appeared only recently and caused limited damage. On the slopes of Ainos there are still many aged, own-rooted vines that yield amazing fruit.
Together with the PDO Robola Cephalonia, the island also produces two more PDO wines, Mavrodafni and Muscat, both sweet. The dry vinifications of Mavrodafni are of particular interest as they yield intensely complex herbal wines, with aromatic character, mild tannins and acidity. Among the white varieties produced, Vostilidi and Zakynthino are especially promising.
GENTILINI: A FAMILY AFFAIR
This winery is all about indigenous varieties – mainly Cephalonian Robola and Mavrodafni Kefallinias – and its fascinating tours, ending in the estate’s beautiful herb garden, convey the owners’ passion and knowledge of organic winemaking.
This exciting wine experience is delivered directly by owner Marianna Cosmetatos, who together with her husband, Petros Markantonatos, breathed new life into the family business by constantly experimenting with new things. The atmosphere is relaxing and welcoming, while visitors can taste wines that are in the process of fermentation or aging in the tank or barrel.
INFO | Minies, Cephalonia • Tel. 26710.416.18 • Open May-September, daily 10:30-14:30 and 17:30-20:30 • Simple tastings are free of charge; the tasting and tour package is priced from €5 per person.