On the evening of November 29, Monique and I attended a wine tasting organized by Mavrommatis at its wine shop at 49, rue Censier in the 5th arrondissement. I arrived thinking that I would taste the resinated wine (wine flavored with pine resin) that I have heard is popular in Greece. To my surprise, I learned that the wine produced by the winemakers whom I met there, Marianna and Petros Markantonatos, is not flavored with resin. Rather, their goal is to produce wines that don’t use resin, which can hide imperfections. They want their wines to compete on the European and American markets with the best.
Marianna and Petros’ estate, called Gentilini, is located on the island of Cephalonia. They say that the soil there, which is chalky and shallow and lies above a limestone bedrock, is the best type of terroir for fine wine production. Some of their vineyards are on gradients so steep that it requires the agility of a goat to harvest the grapes.
Presently, Marianna and Petro farm over ten hectares of vineyards that are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Moschofilero (white grape of Greek origins with a pink/purple skin), Syrah, Muscat, and Mavrodaphne (black wine grape indigenous to the Achaea region). They also manage two vineyards planted with Robola and Tsaoussi, two grape varieties indigenous to the island.
Marianna’s father founded the Gentilini winery forty years ago. She and her husband took it over in 2002. Their vineyards are located around the winery, and all vinification and bottling is done there. The wine is aged in stainless-steel vats or oak barrels that come from the best cooperage houses of Europe.
We tasted a number of white wines at Mavrommatis, including a 2011 vintage of Robola. Pale yellow with a hint of green, it had a fresh, light citrus aroma and flavor. It was dry, crisp, and slightly peppery at the finish.
We also tasted the Gentilini Eclipse, made from the Mavrodaphine grape variety. With a clear, dark-purple color, it was medium-bodied with a fruity aroma, cherry flavor, and peppery aftertaste.
We were quite impressed with the quality of the wines that we sampled that evening. We found them to be as good as any French wines that we have tasted in their price range.
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