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Wine Review: San Gerasimo (VQPRD)

It is widely told that the Greek god of wine , Dionysus travelled far and wide throughout the Greek territory teaching the people how to tend the many vines that he planted on his travels. In Kefalonia, it is said that the first ever vine was planted by the island’s namesake Cephalus, son of the god Hermes. The vine spread and occupied the whole island and new offshoots developed different coloured fruit from white to red, black and yellow. The local people picked the grapes and made fine wines from them such as Moshato, Vostilidi, Theniatico, Tsaousi, and the most famous of all Robola. Wine originating from Kefalonia was refered to in many great myths and literary works; Homer’s heroes drank wine made in Kefalonia, whilst Ulysses used Kefalonian Maronean wine to lure and pacify the legendary Cyclops. Today, Kefalonia’s Robola is the most forceful agricultural product in the country after olive oil.


The Winery: The Robola Cooperative

The Robola Cooperative is located on the Omala Plateau at an altitude of 700 m on the slopes of the beautiful Ainos Mountain It’s stunning location next to the Monastery of  St. Gerasimos makes it all the more significant to the island with St. Gerasimos being its patron-saint. Established in 1982, the Robola Wine Cooperative of 1982 has been functioning at its current location since 1987 and its wine makes up 70% of the total wine production of the island. The factory is fully equipped with modern, high-tech equipment capable of producing 1,000 tons of wine each. The vineyard covers 2.000 sq. M, which are divided into three zones – one for wine production, one for the storage of the wine and the other for bottling.  The company now sell their wines on the domestic market to all large supermarkets and quality off-licenses as well as exporting them to the UK, USA, Sweden and the Netherlands. The export to more and more foreign markets has lead to the cooperative expanding the acreage of the vineyard as well as increasing the incomes of the farmers who tend the Robola vines, which cover 49,000 sq. km.  

The Grape: Robola

The Robola grape is cultivated in seven areas in Kefalonia’s southern and central mountains. Under Greek wine legislation it is classed as an "appellation controlee" and only grapes produced in one of these seven zones can be sold legally as Robola of Kefalonia. The Robola vine needs thin soil, a cool climate and lots of sunshine. The Robola grapes have thin skins, a subtle fruity taste and are golden in colour and have earned the labels, “Nectar of Immortals” or “the wine of the gods". This vine is particularly difficult to cultivate on the mountain slopes because Mount Ainos is renowned for its poor, stony soil quality thus the vineyards are located as high as 800 m. where the soil is a little better. The vine flowers towards the end of March and reaches its peak ripeness between mid August and mid September.

Robola grapes make a variety of eminent wines with aromas of peach and citrus combined with hints of minerals and a long lemon aftertaste. Despite the difficulties experienced in cultivating the vines it has survived here for many centuries and has been constantly improved to reach its present day level of perfection. Vine specialists agree that Robola is one of the three finest white cultivars in Greece. It is a vine native to Keffalonia although it does now grow on some of the other Ionian Islands. It is believed to have been given its name from the Greek word rhombus a shape, which is associated with mysterious and ritual properties and this, linguists think may relate to the wine's capacity to please and induce a state of euphoria.

The Wine: San Gerasimo (VQPRD)

This is a unique and harmonious white wine of exceptional high quality well known and appreciated throughout Greece. It is made from handpicked Robola grapes, which are grown at the highest altitudes. Classed as a dry, white ‘Appellation of Superior Quality’ it has a magnificent balanced taste of citrus blossoms, peaches and apples and is a yellow-green colour with golden highlights. Its bouquet is full and energetic with a degree of acidity and a long aftertaste. It is produced in limited quantities and should be drunk young within two years of harvest. It is best served chilled at 10 to 12 °C. It is a perfect accompaniment to seafood, fish and white meats.

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