If the Greek island of Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea has a signature grape, it is Robola, for it is found almost nowhere else, despite various near-synonyms.
Despite its southerly latitude, Kefalonia is well-suited to grape-growing - the pure white limestone soil gives great elegance to the wines (and allows for ungrafted vines) whilst a combination of cooling sea breezes and altitude provide a respite from the sweltering heat of a Mediterranean summer.
At its most basic, Robola's characteristics are a a citrussy, grapefruit freshness with linear acidity and a minerally, white pepper finish; a relatively neutral grape, it shares some of the flavour characteristics of Gruener Veltliner or cool-climate Chardonnay.
More ambitious examples, from higher altitudes and older vines, show greater structure and complexity - and are sometimes aged in oak, which I'm not yet entirely convinced about.
Like Chardonnay and Gruener, Robola's relative neutrality and linear acidity makes for a very versatile food wine; at En Kefallinia, we found a half-litre of even the basic house Robola matched perfectly with dishes as varied as taramasalata, octopus, pork souvlaki and roasted vegetables.
The Robola co-operative on Kefalonia is based inland next to the St Gerasimos monastery. It represents 300 growers and produces wines from various grapes - but only Robola is exclusive to Kefalonia.
I tried three of their wines on a recent visit to the island.
Robola of Cephalonia 2012 Organic €6.10 - various vineyards, 800 - 1,000m citrus, grapefruit, aromatic, light and fresh, mineral
San Gerasimo €8.80 - single vineyard, 1,000m+ altitude, more aromatic and expressive white pepper, more elegant and nuanced, well-structured and mineral
Glykorogos €12.20 - a red dessert wine, overripe strawberries on the nose, hints of decaying aromas, fresh red cherry fruit acidity and strawberries, refreshing finish
My favourite of the three wines here was the San Gerasimo - the wines are imported by Salonica Wines.
Other related articles
Greek Wines at Circle of Wine Writers
Salonica Wines - website