Great Greeks – Gentilini is back. Time for 2011 Robola.


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Recap? Sure, here’s my impression of Gentilini from last year, when I bumped in to them for the first time:

Gentilini. That’s a name to remember. Before being introduced to their Robola and Mavrodapne, I would never have guessed that wines of this quality and great personality were produced in Cephalonia. Yes, it’s been a while since I was there and much has probably changed, but still, this is really impressive stuff. The almost cool climate feel the Robola oozes of, is nothing but drop dead gorgeous. Track it down. Buy it. Love it!

Time to taste the 2011 vintage of the two Robola wines Gentilini produces. I know, not many have heard of Robola – or tasted any for that matter. But consider the following and give it a chance:

It’s all about Mount Enos and its surroundings in Cephalonia, where the Robola is cultivated. Differing micro climates in the vineyards, protection from the worst heat, limestone and chalky soil, the vicinity to water (but still protected) are all important features. Add an enthusiastic team as well; the owners Marianna Kosmetatos and Petros Markantonatos – and their winemaker Mike Jones.

The ungrafted Robola vines at Gentilini, are cultivated on higher altitudes which of course adds a cool feeling to the wines. Some of the vineyards are planted as high as 850 meters above sea level. Put old vines to that, almost sixty years for the Cellar Selection wine, and admit it; you’re curious right?

2011 Robola of Cephalonia, Gentilini

The Robola 2011 was made by chilling the grapes first. Then half of the harvest were whole bunch pressed, the other half crushed destemmed. Only the free juice was settled and fermented. Then four weeks of lees contact.

Stone fruits. Pear peel and wet rocks initially. Then unfolding and showing sun-drenched yellow fruits, lots of citrus and lime, jasmine and just a slight tropical hint. With aeration the mineral feeling takes control of the bouquet which just enhances the overall impression. On the palate it is restrained and packed with wet rocks, yellow fruits and grey pears. Some floral notes and a gentle spicy touch. Lime peel adding a refreshing nuance. Long, crisp finish.

Around 30,000 bottles of this one making it the biggest brand for Gentilini and reasonably available.

2011 Robola of Cephalonia, Cellar Selection, Gentilini

From a single south-facing vineyard at 850 meters above the sea level. Vines planted back in the 1950’s. Organically run and certified. A part of this wine (20 per cent) spends some months on equal parts of American and French oak.

Oh my, oh my. This really amazes. Again. Minerals, wet earth, wool, a creamy nose with currants and box. Mint and some ripe citrus fruits. Such elegance and intensity at the same time. Initially I’m finding a Chenin blanc resemblance, then Sauvignon blanc. Guess this is what happens when you’re expanding the references, learning new (or old) grapes. On the palate it is all about class. Citrus fruits, herbs, wet rocks and a restrained fruit character reminding me of Anjou pears. Quite a mouthful but still elegant and with seductive fruit. Classy finish with impressive intensity and a long, pure wet rocks ending.

Bigger than the 2010 and in my world, even better (although it should be noted that the 2010 is a kick a-s wine). The Cellar Selection is only around 2,000 bottles a year but what a wine it is. Both wines are just hitting the market so try to pick up some Robola. And don’t forget about the 2010 either. It’s still available here.

N.B. Samples of the two 2011 bottles were provided by Gentilini. Thanks guys! Robola photos also from Gentilini.

N.B.2. Plastic cork looking like a natural one is used as closure. Bravo guys!

Want to taste Robola? US wine lovers can find it here. Europeans here.