Saturday, 20 July 2013

Drink as a local

It's no secret that my second passion after wine is travelling. And maybe sometime  it also overtakes wine! Sometimes I feel like I have a sort of travelling!

I like the whole process of preparation and the expectation of the departure but most of all I like to get completely absorbed in other peoples culture and traditions. I like to discover and learn. And on top of this I have an almost insane curiosity for local products.  I always need to experiment traditional recipes. I like to drink local and if it's wine I prefer indigenous varieties and possibly small realities. Not only for the clear ethical purpose of supporting the local economy and to minimise any environmental impact but also because I believe this is part of the bigger process of experiencing the place.

So, since I'm just back from a (too) short vacation in the Ionian island of Ithaca I thought Id share with you some of my memories....
Ithaca is quite a small island characterised by pristine waters and secluded pebbly beaches. The water is so transparent that snorkeling among fishes is all you want to do during the day!

But after sunset, when the refreshing breeze cools down the evening and you are having dinner on your terrace or on a nice little restaurant by the harbour, there is nothing better than a crisp, light and refreshing white wine.

The vineyards in Ithaca are situated mainly in the southern part, around the little village of Perahori but, although there is a well attended wine festival in August (that unfortunately I won't be able to enjoy), you cannot find that much of the wine produced on sale. The most popular wine is without any doubt the Robola of Kefalonia. The two examples I have tasted were both produced by the Kefalonia Wine Cooperative that was opened in 1982.

The first one (in what looked like a tourist-targeted packaging) was quite simple and light. Fresh with nice citrusy fruit, but totally lacking of depth in the mouth. A bit ordinary but with a good acidity. Good as aperitif with some kalamata olives!

The second wine was instead much more interesting. A deeper intensity of citrusy notes followed by aromas of grapefruit and white flowers. In the mouth it is richer and fuller than the first one. An incredible good acidity and some flinty notes. A wine to be matched with seafood. Very good! And cheap. You can have it for around 8€!

But of course, since I have been there for a week I also have tasted something else, a bit less local (meaning that it was not coming strictly from the Ionian archipelago but from other parts of Greece) such as the un-pronounceable wine in the picture below...

...that was absolutely dull and almost watery in structure. I've later found out being made from an indigenous variety (not everything that is local is necessarily good!).

Or this Sauvignon Blanc (which I have ordered by mistake since it was in Greek on the menu)...

I have also tasted a house wine coming from Patras, and based on the local Roditis, which was nothing special but it was fresh and light and perfectly fine for an house wine sold at €10 per liter.

But if wine is too alcoholic when the temperature rises, then Greece has to offer you a couple of good lagers: Alpha & Mithos...(which was my favourite and was going down so quickly that I never had enough time to take a picture!)
Now...enjoy your holiday and SALUTE!