The Wines Of Sardinia
Sardinia is situated just a little over 125 miles from the Italian mainland, along the same latitude as Campania and Basilicata. Sardinia itself has one of the oldest wine industries in all of Italy. In the course of Sardinia's history, it has been occupied Blythe Byzantines, Arabs and Catalans, whose Spanish influence, especially on the wine industry, can still be seen throughout the island, even today. The most important grape varieties in Sardinia, such as Cannonau and Carignano, are historically native to Spain and the Iberian peninsula. Wine growing in Sardinia is dominated by large cooperatives of growers, much more so than anywhere else in Italy. Apart from these large cooperative growers, there are a small handful of talented winemakers who are enjoying a degree of success, both nationally and internationally. A large proportion of the islands wine production is still, even today, for domestic consumption or sent for blending at the cooperative wineries.
Only a couple of Sardinia's DOC wines, therefore, can only be classed as quality wines, including as already mentioned Cannonau di Sardenia, the Vermentino di Gallura, Vernacia di Oristano, as well as Carignano del Sucris.
Let's take a look at the wines of Sardinia -
Cannonau di Sardegna
In its Spanish homeland, the Cannonau, sometimes written Cannanao, is known as Garnacha. This s the second most common grape variety of gape in the world and covers 20 per cent of Sardinia's grape growing area. It forms a basis of many famous Spanish wines, such as Rioja. It has also become one of the main grape varieties grown in Southern France - under the name Granache - wher it also produces many good quality wines, such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It can also be found around Maremma on the Tuscan coast, where it is known as Alicante. it produces deeply coloured, strong, full-bodied red wines which are also popular for blending with other varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The best Cannonau wines go well with rich red-meat and game dishes and are produced in the province of Nuoro in eastern Sardinia.
Vermentino di Gallura
The islands best Vermentino, a lively fresh white wine, which is an excellent accompaniment to Sardinia's light fish dishes, comes from Gallura province at the northern tip of Sardinia. This grape variety is also cultivated on the neighbouring island of Corsica and in the region of Liguria and also in southern France, where it is known as Rolle. The best results are really only obtained if the winegrower is meticulous about restricting the yield - a crucial factor in producing flavour intensive wines.
Carignano del Sulcis
The Carignano, known as Carinena or Marzuelo in Spain and Carignan in southern France, is primarily a simple mass-produced wine without much character of distinguishing features. In Sardinia, however, it produces some interesting wines, which can be of very high quality with a lasting bouquet of round full fruit flavours.
Monica, Vernaccia and Malvasia
In addition to the several native grape varieties, Sardinia also grows many unusual grape varieties. These include the Monica, Monica di Cagliari or Monica di Sardegna, a dry red variety with an intense flavour, the Vernaccia, Vernaccia di Oristano, which produces strong, dry, white wines and can also be used in a liqueur similar to sherry, as well as the Malvasia.