We continue with our discovery of Kefalonian wines, this time at the Gentilini winery whose philosophy is to produce a range of handcrafted, top quality wines from unique local varieties.
Founded by Spiros Fokas in 1984 it soon established herself as one of the flagship wineries of Kefalonia. We are met by Marianna Kosmetatos, daughter of Spiros who together with her husband Peter Markantonatos took over in 2002.
The winery is located close to the airport, on the road to Argostoli. It offers a nice green shelter and a tasting plot in between olive trees and wild herbs.
Gentilini ‘s scenic vineyard
Just in front of the winery a large vineyard of Mavrodaphne is planted. According to Marianna it is the largest single vineyard of this variety and is located 80 meters above sea level. The vineyard spans across several types of soil and is used to produce their signature Eclipse.
We soon learn that there are several clones of Mavrodaphne and that they name it Eclipse so that people don’t confuse it with the desert wine Mavrodaphne of Patra.
The vineyard is a marvel for the eye and it faces the sea on Western slopes. We arrive just in the middle of the green harvest and Peter is full hands in it, however he takes the time to come and greet us.
The winery is run as self sustainable. Rain water is collected and used to water vineyards only wen needed, to prevent shocking of vines. The vinification proces is organized to use all the advantages of free fall.
Gentilini wine pallet
They produce a wide range of wines including Kefalonia’s flagship Robola. Vines grow mostly on limestone, producing a wine marked by a distinct mineral note – no wonder Venetians used to call it “Vino di sasso (Wine of rock)“. They buy the majority of Robola and breed vines of Mavrodaphne, Moscofilero, Syrah, Tsaoussi and Sauvignon Blanc.
Notes white, 2018
Vinification: A blend of 80 % Sauvignon Blanc and 20 % Tsaoussi. Grapes are chilled overnight to 7oC before being de-stemmed and crushed. 20 % of Sauvignon Blanc grapes have skin contact for 12 hours. The must ferments at controlled temperatures and battonage is carried out for 2 months on regular basis.
Notes: Strawy yellow, rather dense and crystal clear. Intense and fine aromas of cantaloupe, peaches, slight elder and citrus flower and flint stone. Fresh and mineral on the palate, with a distinct mineral character, full bodied, elegant with a rather lasting finish.
A wine to accompany delicate fish plates.
Vinification: Produced from Kefalonia’s own Robola, from selected vineyards of 600 m altitude. Only free flown juice is used and it ferments for 4 weeks under controlled temperatures of 14oC.
Notes: Strawy yellow, rather dense and crystal clear. Intense and fine aromas starting with yellow apple, peach, orange, papaya, white flowers and a slight mineral note. The taste is fresh and mineral, rather persistent, full bodied and elegant.
A wine I would gladly enjoy with a sea bass carpaccio or sashimi …
Robola Wild paths, 2015
Background: This Robola comes from a single vineyard of ungrafted vines that are planted above 850 m above sea level and was planted in 1956. For this Robola they indoctrinated a special yeast that was isolated from more than 250 different strains found on berries in this vineyards.
Vinification: Grapes are chilled to 7oC overnight, then de-stemmed and crushed. Only 60 % of juice is collected after a delicate pressing. Half of the must was indoctrinated with a standard yeast and 20 % of it was put in French oak. The other half was indoctrinated with the native bacteria they isolated and 20 % was put in American oak. Barrels and tanks are then blended following 4 weeks of battonage and another month of battonage after the assemblage.
Notes: Strawy yellow with slight golden hue, rather dense and crystal clear. Intense aromas of white-fleshed fruit and citruses, cantaloupe, white flowers, vanilla, white pepper and dry herbs. Soft, fresh and mineral, intense, persistent, full bodied and elegant.
A wine to pair with grilled fish or gratinated scallops.
Notes rosé 2018
Vinification: 90 % of Moschofilero and 10 % of Syrah to stabilize the colour. Moschofilero is a grape with some colour that gives Muscat-like flavours. If macerated it gives a rosé to amberish colour. Grapes are de-stemmed and crushed, they are left for extraction for three days before the fermentation at controlled temperatures.
Notes: A light cherry red, rather dense and crystal clear. Intense, fine aromas with roses petals, jasmine, peaches, and a delicate mineral note. Soft, fresh and tasty, intense, medium bodied, persistent and elegant.
A rosé that can be a nice refreshing aperitif in these warm summer days, but also a great addition to fried shrimps, or pasta dishes.
Notes red, 2017
Vinification: Agriorgitiko in majority blended with Mavrodaphne. Fermentation is done in open steel vats over a combination of delestage and push-downs. It undergoes malolactic fermentation and a 4 month affinement in oak barrels before a further 6 months of aging in bottles.
Notes: A ruby red colour, rather dense and translucently limpid. Intense and fine aromas of sour cherries, sweet spices, wild mint and black pepper. Soft and warm, fresh and tannic – with tannins that are starting to round-up. The feel is balanced, intense, full-bodied, persistent and elegant.
I’d sip it next to a plate of pastitsio or moussaka.
New era Syrah, 2017
Vinification: Fermentation and extraction is carried in open steel vats, with a small amount vinified in open barrels. Pigeage and delestage are carried out 3 times per day for 20 days. Grapes are pressed after malolactic fermentation. Then wine is trasferred to a combination of French in majority and American barriques to mature for 12 months.
Notes: A ruby red colour, dense and translucently limpid. Intense and fine aromas of black cherries, liquorice, sweet spices, dried tobacco, herbs, spices and chocolate. Soft and warm, fresh and tannic. Tannins are well rounded-up. It is a balanced wine with an intense, full-bodied, persistent and elegant taste.
A wine to accompany rich meat dishes, also game.
Vinification: Named after the lunar eclipse of 2008, this is a 100 % Mavrodaphne. Fermentation and extraction is carried in open steel vats, with a small amount vinified in open barrels. Pigeage and delestage are carried out 3 times per day for 30 days. Grapes are pressed after malolactic fermentation. Then wine is transferred to refine in a combination of American in majority and French barriques for 12 months.
Notes: A dense, ruby red colour, limpid. Intense and fine aromas of black cherries, plum jam, liquorice, sweet spices, wild mint, eucalyptus, tobacco, spices and chocolate. Soft and warm, fresh and tannic. Tannins are starting to round-up. It is an intense wine, with a vigorous body, a persistent and elegant taste.
A wine to accompany rich meat dishes, also game. To be enjoyed after decanting.
An engaging experience
Visitning Gentilini’s winery offers a engaging, deep insight into the production of some to the islands flagship varieties and wines. There’s a lot to hear, see and learn and if, like us, you’re a curious wine geek than visiting the winery is a must. I advise making an appointment in advance to enjoy also the visit of the vineyard and winery.