Best known as the setting for Louis de Bernières’ novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Cephalonia also makes some very tasty wines from indigenous Greek grapes. This tangy, bright, wild herb-scented white, made from Robola, will delight lovers of fiction and non-fiction alike.
We have Vangelis Gerovassiliou to thank for rescuing the Malagousia grape from obscurity in the 1970s. This comes from his oldest plantings and it’s typically rich, textured and scented, with grapey, musky aromas, flavours of stone fruit and orange peel and a ripe, satisfying finish. At its best with spicy food.
Assyrtiko is one of the most under-rated grapes in the world, especially when it’s grown on the volcanic soils of the island of Santorini. Bone dry, minerally and deliciously austere, this example from Gaia shows the variety at its delicious best with notes of quinine and lemon zest and incredible extract and concentration. A total bargain at £14.95.
Oddbins pioneered Greeek wines in the UK and continues to do a great job of promoting its individual, invariably good value wines. Try this pale, complex Xynomavro, which tastes like a cross between a red Burgundy and a Barolo. The tannins need food to show at their best.
This is no ordinary, drink-it-on-holiday Retsina. It’s biodynamic, fermented in amphorae with wild yeasts and highly unusual. The pine resin notes are restrained and enjoyable, adding a Mediterranean herb like dimension to the pear, beeswax and honey fruit. The wines finishes tangy and dry.
It’s not the easiest grape in the world to love (those tannins can be a little firm, like a Greek version of the Portuguese Baga grape) but Agiorgitiko is that country’s best variety. This is a very fruity example, but it’s still got backbone and acidity behind the chalky red cherry and pomegranate flavours. Make sure you eat this with robust food or cheese.