“Aromāts ir piesātināts ar gatavu tumšo plūmju, žāvētu sarkano ogu, saldo garšvielu un rozīņu notīm. Garšā vīns ir tumīgs, pilnmiesīgs un koncentrēts. Tanīni ir maigi, aktīvi. Pēcgarša ir ļoti ilga. ” — Ronalds Pētersons, “Noble Wine” someljē
Sardinia, 240km off the west coast of mainland Italy, is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is almost three times the size of French-owned Corsica, its immediate neighbor to the north, and only marginally smaller than Italy’s other major island, Sicily. The island, known as Sardegna to its Italian-speaking inhabitants, has belonged to various empires and kingdoms over the centuries. This is reflected in its place names, architecture, languages and dialects, and its unique portfolio of wine grapes.
Since the mid-18th Century, Sardinia has been one of Italy’s five autonomous regions, but its separation from the mainland has led to a culture and identity somewhat removed from the Italian mainstream. This is reflected in the Sardinian relationship with wine. Wine is much less culturally and historically engrained there than in the mainland regions, and wine production and consumption on any scale has developed only in the past few centuries.
The most “Italian” varieties here are Malvasia and Vermentino, but even Vermentino can only just be considered Italian, being more widely planted on Corsica and southern France – often under the name Rolle – than in its homeland, Liguria. Muscat Blanc (Moscato Bianco), ubiquitous all around the Mediterranean, further contributes to the pan-Mediterranean feel of Sardinian viniculture.
Viticulture is a minority enterprise in Sardinia, despite generous financial incentives from the government. Only a small percentage of the island’s land is given over to vines, and there seems to be little drive to capitalize on the island’s naturally vine-friendly climate and landscape.
Happily, a handful of producers are creating high-quality wines, which are gradually gaining international recognition. The majority of Sardinian vineyards lie on the western side of the island, which is also where its most location-specific DOCs are found. The exception to this westerly bias is Vermentino di Gallura, the island’s only DOCG, whose catchment area covers the island’s northeastern corner. However the most familiar appellations to many drinkers are likely to be the island-wide DOCs Cannonau di Sardegna and Vermentino di Sardegna.
Sardinia’s terroir is full of promise for further expansion. The combination of hills and plains, coastal regions and inland areas offers useful diversity of topography and mesoclimates. To further these benefits, the available soils and bedrocks vary from granite, limestone and sandstone to mineral-rich clays and free-draining sands and gravels. Located between 38 and 41 degrees north, the island lies at the southern edge of European viniculture, but thanks to the cooling effects of the Mediterranean, the maritime climate here is more forgiving than in other regions at this latitude.