The history of Sardinian wines is ancient and fascinating and started in full Bronze Age about 3500 years ago. A recent finding in the territory of Cabras confirmed that wine was already produced during the Nuragic civilization, way before the Roman Empire came into existence. Sardinia’s mild climate with plenty of sunshine, good limestone and granite soils offer an ideal place for excellent quality wines. Many are the endemic grapes and today Sardinian wines are appreciated worldwide especially the Cannonau (red) and Vermentino (white). But many more are becoming quite popular in elegant and sophisticated restaurants around the globe.
The Cannonau wine is largely produced in the Ogliastra region but also in many other areas of Sardinia. Its flavours change a bit based on the area but mainly contain aromas of black cherries, plumbs, spices and Mediterranean herbs. A part from its lovely flavours Cannonau appears to be one of the reasons why certain areas of Ogliastra became one of the five Blue Zones on the planet. The Blue Zones are areas in which people are much more likely to live 100 years compared to any other places. In fact, the Cannonau contains the highest percentage of antioxidants than any other wine (up to 3 times), polyphenols and procyanidins that keep cholesterol low and protect arteries.
There are many DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) Cannonau currently available in the market.
The production of Carignano wine is almost entirely concentrated in the South West of Sardinia, in the area called Sulcis. It is likely that this grape was introduced by the Phoenicians more than 2500 years ago when they discovered that area. This grape type finds its ideal environment on warm sandy soils which provide a distinctive flavour of plums and cherries and notes of sweet spices and chocolate. The sophisticated and elegant taste make Carignano one of the most important and prestigious Sardinian wines. In 1977 the “Carignano del Sulcis” received the DOC certification .
The Monica is one of the oldest wine variety introduced to Sardinia which is now cultivated in many parts of the island. The most realistic hypothesis about the origin of the grape says that it was introduced around the XI century by the monks Camaldolesi from the mainland. In fact this grape is also known as Camaldolese. Others prefer to attribute the origin to the period of Spanish rule in Sardinia; in fact, in some areas this grape is called “Monica of Spain” or “Grapes Mora”. This grape variety prefers soils on hilly slopes well exposed to the sun.
The Monica wine is soft and pleasant to the palate with fresh scents of blackberry and cherries, red fruit jam and delicate spiciness. The two DOC types are: Monica di Sardegna and Monica of Cagliari.
Among the Sardinian white wines the Vermentino is the most known. This wine has great personality and differs in flavours and perfumes from the other wines with the same name in both Spain and main Italy. This is due to the unique soil in which this grape grow and Mediterranean vegetation that characterize the cultivated areas. The “Vermentino di Gallura” DOCG and “Vermentino di Sardegna” DOC are the most popular varieties and are well appreciated outside Italy as well. This lovely gold coloured wine contains fresh and lively flavours of fruits and herbs. It is an excellent wine to combine to fish dishes or aperitifs during warm days.
The Vernaccia wine is an elegant and noble grape variety introduced by the Phoenicians when founded the city of Tharros around VIII BC. Up until today, its cultivation has remained limited almost exclusively to the territory of Oristano that offers fertile low lands on the edge of Tirso and Rio Mannu rivers. This superb wine owes its unique characteristics to an oxidative maturation of at least 3-4 years in oak or chestnut casks not completely filled. The presence of oxygen in the cask encourages the rise of yeast on the surface of the wine creating a characteristic veil that provides the aroma to the wine. The wine is still made today following the antique methods; the final product is a lovely dry wine with a dark amber colour. The flavours remind dried fruit, almond blossom and bitter honey that are quite complex and persistent on the palate. It is a perfect choice for an aperitif before lunch or dinner. The DOC certification of Vernaccia di Oristano was granted in 1971.
The Malvasia wine was verisimilarly introduced in Sardinia around the XV century. Its name almost certainly comes from the port of Monemvasia in the Peloponnese coast. According to some experts this grape was already introduced in Sardinia by the Byzantines much earlier and cultivated in the Planargia and Campidano areas. The Malvasia is considered a sophisticated and very elegant dessert wine and traditionally offered to visitors as a symbol of hospitality and friendship.
There are two varieties DOC certified: Malvasia di Bosa and Malvasia di Cagliari. They are different in flavour and colour due to the characteristics of the soil and the climate in which they are produced. The Malvasia di Bosa follows a similar process as the Vernaccia and ages in casks not completely filled creating the typical veil that gives a distinctive notes of honey and toasted almonds and a bright golden yellow colour. The Malvasia di Cagliari has instead a brighter golden colour with a fresh flowers and fruit flavours.