Sardegna is where wine is born. It is where the oldest wine in the Mediterranean is produced and it is here where the tales begin. Some say the Cannonau grape variety was introduced by the Spaniards in the 1400’s during Spanish rule. Others argue that Cannonau is indigenous to Sardegna. It doesn’t matter who is right in this battle as one thing remains clear: Cannonau is one spectacular wine not to be missed on the island of Sardegna.
Sardegna is an island in the Mediterranean where the climate, (hot & windy, limited rainfall, medium limestone soil with loose rocky layers) soil and vines, give rise to a brilliant quality dark grape with strong personalities. The cultivation of Cannonau has spread thought-out the island in recent years, but the birth place of this superb wine is in the center of the island.
Cannonau grape varieties are the most common variety found on the island. All Cannonau must be made with 90% Cannonau grapes to be certified with the Cannonau name. Cannonau is aged in oak barrels for one year before gracing tables with its strong elegance.
I would like to introduce you to four of my favorite Sardinian Reds.
Turriga 2002. Isola dei Nuraghi Argiolas Serdiana, South Sardegna. The Turriga estate sits two-hundred and thirty meters above sea level in the little country-side of Selegas-Piscina Trigus. This is where wine is truly born, for Turriga is one sexy red. It’s harvested by hand in the early mornings giving rise to a beautiful intense ruby colour. Smooth on the palate, Turriga is a well-balanced red with a rich bouquet. Grape varieties: Cannonau, Carignano, Bovale Sardo, Malvasia Nera. Retail: 50 EURO and up. In restaurants look to pay 80-100 EURO a bottle. I have drunk this wine on several occasions. It’s truly a rich taste for those with the palate and the budget.
Mamuthone 2004. Guiseppe Sedilesu. Mamioada is a small village in the heart of Barbagia, in central Sardegna. It is here that you will find this Mamuthone 100% Cannonau brilliant ruby-red. Grown in the older vineyards and harvested in October, Mamuthone brings with it a truly divine adventure on your palate. A delightful aroma of plum, pomegranate and cherry. This wine will leave your palate fresh and dry. This is a Cannonau rich in tannins with 15% alcohol rating this wine is not for the weak. Only 70,000 bottles were produced so get it if you can. Retail: 18 EURO a bottle.
Medeus 2000. Isola dei Nuraghi. Sella & Mosca. Alghero, Sassari. Medeus harvests in September, the grapes are chosen carefully, preferably picking the loose grapes from the vine. They are then spread out on mats surrounding the vineyard for fifteen days to dry in the hot Mediterran sun. Medeus is a mix bred with grape varieties of: Cannonau, Carignano, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Medeus is truly a deep-ruby with hints of violet and dominant fruity aromas. Soft tannins combined with slight woody vanilla leave the palate fresh and flattered. 13.5% alcohol rating. Retails: 25-30 EURO a bottle.
BootLeg Wine. The Corner Market. In every town, Sardegna. Bootleg is one serious wine. It’s strong and potent, fruity and flowery, rich and pale in red, dominant and submissive, smooth and sweet. Sardinian Bootleg is as diverse as night and day. Much depends on the growers and their grapes, how young the harvest, when they harvest. Bootleg is truly a Sardinian delight, but be warned it’s a shocker. Bootleg wine is to be found on the local’s tables, from word-of-mouth and those in the know.