Isolation in mid-Mediterranean has made Sardinia the most idiosynctratic of Italian regions. The island’s 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 Moscato and Malvasia, but several other varieties are unique in Italy, such as Girò, Cannonau, Nuragus, Monica, Semidano, Torbato and Vernaccia di Oristano…
Sardinians have sharply reduced vineyards and volume of production recently while notably improving the general quality of thier wines. The island’s most productive vineyard area is the Campidano, the fertile plains and low rolling hills northwest of the capital and major port of Cagliari. The varieties grown there – Girò, Malvasia, Monica, Moscato, Nasco and Nuragus – carry the name of Cagliari in their denominations.
The wooded slopes of the northern Gallura peninsula and the northwestern coastal area around Sassari and Alghero are noted for premium whites. Vermentino dominates the dry wines, notably in Vermentino di Gallura DOCG, though the Torbato under Alghero DOC can be equally impressive. Vermentino, a variety also planted in Liguria and parts of Tuscany, makes a white of winning style in the Gallura hills, though it can be produced throughout the region under the Sardinia DOC.
Moscato can be either still or sparkling, but it is always sweet, notably from Sorso and Sennori and the Gallura hills and the town of Tempio Pausania in the north. Malvasia may be sweet, but is perhaps most impressive dry from the town of Bosa and the Planargia hills on the western side of the island, as well as under the Cagliari DOC. Still another refined sweet white is Semidano, which has a DOC for all of Sardinia, though it is most noted from the town of Mogoro.
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 flavor.
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 in flavor.
The island’s important red varieties are Cannonau, a relative of the Granacha brought from Spain, and Carignano and Monica, also of Spanish origin. Cannonau and Monica can be dry or sweet, though trends favor the dry type toned down in strength from its traditionally heroic proportions. Vineyards in the rugged eastern coastal range around Nuoro are noted for rich, red Cannonau. Wines of note comes from the towns of Oliena, Jerzu and Dorgali and the coastal hills of Capo Ferrato. Cannonau also makes a fine sweet wine, which can be reminiscent of Port.
A rising star among red wines is Carignano del Sulcis, from the southwest, where certain wineries have emerged with notable style recently. A curiosity among the reds is the moderately sweet Girò di Cagliari. In addition to its 20 wines of DOC and DOCG, Sardinia has 15 IGTs, the most of any region.
The Sardegna wines match very well the Sardegna cuisine, with its local recipes.
Vermentino di Gallura
Campidano di Terralba or Terralba
Cannonau di Sardegna
Carignano del Sulcis
Giro’ di Cagliari
Malvasia di Bosa
Malvasia di Cagliari
Monica di Cagliari
Monica di Sardegna
Moscato di Cagliari
Moscato di Sardegna
Moscato di Sorso Sennori
Nasco di Cagliari
Nuragus di Cagliari
Vermentino di Sardegna
Vernaccia di Oristano
Colli del Limbara
Isola dei Nuraghi
Nurra or Nurra Algherese
Provincia di Nuoro or Nuoro
Valle del Tirso
Valli di Porto Pino