Sardinia Terroirs: wine, people, territory – Live from Vinitaly 2024

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Day 3 at Vinitaly 2024 continued with a Masterclass discovering the unique Sardinia terroirs with insights from eight passionate winemakers. In case you’ve missed it, no worries: check out this article for all the info from the session! The Italian Wine Podcast gives you all the tasting notes, just as if you were there in person. We attended, we tasted and we wrote just so you can experience the Sardinian Terroirs and imagine tasting with international experts from the world of wine.

Alberto Cella, from Quartomoro Winery, jump-started this fascinating and fun session by explaining that the project, Sardinia Terroirs, stemmed from the idea that “people make wine and wine defines territory.”  Eight wineries on the island banded together to embrace and promote Sardinia, uniting their eight territories, focusing on autochthonous varieties and elevating Sardinian wine excellence in the minds of consumers. Alberto explained that the goal of the project is “to be a push toward innovation, respecting the biodiversity and tradition, and drive forward to create a new expression of the character and the longevity of the wines.  He showed maps of the location of the eight territories, from north to south on the island, and pointed out the unique soils in each location.  

After his enthusiastic introduction, he turned over the floor to each of the producers, one by one. Before we talk about the wines, it’s important to note that the representatives of the eight wineries, including Alberto himself, were all young members of their families, rather than the elder statesmen and scions of tradition. There was an obvious camaraderie between the eight, they are clearly good friends, and a lot of teasing and inside jokes made this masterclass really joyful and authentic. It was revealed at the end that some of the older generation were in the room so it was a little stressful for the young presenters. I never would have guessed, as their passion for their wines and their excitement for the project shone through. Alberto told the audience: “We got together spontaneously because, first of all, we are best friends. We need to let the world know about great Sardinia wines!

First up for Sardinia Terroirs at Vinitaly 2024 was Nuragus di Cagliari DOC Vino Biologico 2023 from Antonella Corda on the east side of the island. Nuragus used to be the most planted varietal in Sardinia, but it is now Vermentino, due to market preferences over the past several decades. Antonella Corda began in 2010 and earned bio certification. The wine is grown on marly limestone soils very near the sea and made using a cold fermentation and virtually no skin contact to avoid too much tannin from this already tannic white grape. Vinified in steel tanks and aged on fine lees for six months, the wine was aromatic with a beautiful play between notes of Mediterranean herbs and bright lemon and grapefruit citrus, as well as an attractive white floral element. On the palate, the wine was only slightly grippy, not overly phenolic, with lovely flavors of fresh squeezed yellow citrus and briny sea water.

Second was Vinicola Cherchi’s Vermentino di Sardegna DOC “TUVAOES” 2022, from the northwest of the island, the first Sardinian wine to achieve three glasses from Gambero Rosso. Our presenter declared that the founder of the winery, Giovanni Cherchi, the father of Salvatore, known as Tuvaoes, for whom the wine is named, was “a hero, a genius” with Vermentino. The wine was lightly oaked and had a cedar-esque scent. On the palate, it was almost tannic in character, with a chalky grip and a fascinating combination of lemon pith, bitter almonds, herbal flavors and rocky sea salts.  

Next was Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Superiore “Kramori” 2022 from Saraja, made with Vermentino grapes grown at 500 meters above sea level on the traditional granite sils of Gallura. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrique for 6 months, creating a wine with the typical nose of Gallura, filled with lemon cream, oyster shell, sea salt and smoke. The wine was flinty and structured, with beautiful fresh acidity and a long lemon zest finish. Irresistible and definitely not one to spit!

The fourth wine was Cantina Iolei’s Cannonau di Sardegna DOC Riserva Nepente di Oliena “Hospes” 2021, made from 100% Cannonau grapes trained in the alberello bush style. Pale ruby with a lovely sheer quality, the wine was scented with sweet, warm, ripe red plums and baking spice. In the mouth, the flavors were crunchy and fresh with notes of tart red currant, blood orange zest and a gorgeous whisper of powdery tannins. Made in concrete and oak tonneaux, the finish was smokey, spicy and warm.

Number five was Tenuta Perda Rubia’s Cannonau di Sardegna DOC “Perda Rubia” 2020, made with grapes from 50-year-old ungrafted, head-trained vines growing on granite and sand. The wine matured in oak barrique for eight months and presented with a deep ruby color, full of smokey, ripe raspberry and ripe strawberry compote. High tannins and high alcohol made this wine a full-bodied mouthful.

Next wine presented by the Sardinia Terroirs project was Mandrolisai DOC Rosso Superiore “Antiogu” 2021 from Fradiles, a blend of 50% Bovale, 30% Cannonau and 20% Monica. The wine is aged 10 months in barrique and 14 months in tonneaux and arrives in the glass with a beautiful deep purple color. On the nose, it’s very floral, with pretty notes of purple lilac, wisteria and blue iris. The flavors are powerful but luscious, with black currant dominating and supporting the good acidic spine. A hint of graphite is a nod to the mineral soils and the excellent balance belies the actual level of alcohol.

Seventh was Alberto Cella‘s own Bovale Terralba Superiore DOC “Memorie di Vite BVL” 2021 from his family’s winery, Quartomoro. Bovale Grande and Bovale di Spagna grapes are used to create this wine from alberello-trained vines grown on volcanic basalt and obsidian soils on Monte Arci in the southwest of the island. Alberto told us: “I grew up in these vineyards!” The wine was deep ruby and full of ripe red fruit, especially warm plums, combined with lovely dried herbs and a lingering powdery dry tannin.

The final wine for this masterclass on Sardinia terroirs at Vinitaly 2024 was Carignano del Sulcis DOC Rosso Riserva “Seimura” 2022 from Cantina Giba. Made from ungrafted old vines grown at 50 meters above sea level, this joyful and delightful wine had a seductive nose of cloves, black raspberries, black cherry, black bramble berries and Mediterranean herbs that gave way to a soft, round mouthfeel, gentle sticky tannins and a long finish filled with notes of blueberry and mirto liqueur. Gorgeous to drink, the wine gave me the sensation of a huge spray of purple everything good to smell and taste.

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