Italy - Sardinia
Isolation in mid-Mediterranean has made Sardinia the most idiosyncratic
of Italian regions. Its history has been influenced as much by foreigners
- Spaniards in particular - as by other Italians.
The island's vines tell a story of their own, frequently with a Spanish
accent. The Mediterranean stalwarts are there in the various clones
of Muscat and Malvasia, but several other varities are practically
unique in Italy, such as Giro`, Cannonau, Nuragus, Monica, Torbato
and especially its only DOCG wine, Vermentino di Gallura.
Much of Sardinia's production is carried out by cooperatives. Among DOC
wines, whites predominate by nearly two to one over reds. The most
popular white variety is Nuragus, which is believed to have been brought
there by the Phoenicians. Its name derives from the island's prehistoric
stone towers known as "nuraghe". Nuragus is the source of a modern
dry white, clean and crisp if rather neutral in flavour.
The island's two important red varieties are Cannonau, a relative of the
Granacha brought from Spain, and Monica, also of Spanish origin. Both
can by dry or sweet, though trends favour the dry type toned down
in strength from the Spanish renditions. Cannonau is a rather large
and imposing wine with incredible depth and flavor similar to California
Cabernet Sauvignon. The Monica has similar flavors, but is not as
big a wine.
Moscato can be either still or sparkling. Malvasia may be sweet, but is perhaps
most impressive dry from the west coast town of Bosa and the Planargia
One of the most distinctive of Sardinian wines is Vernaccia di Oristano.
From a vine of uncertain origin grown in the flat, sandy Tirso river
basin around Oristano, it becomes a Sherry-like amber wine with a
rich array of nuances in bouquet and flavour.