Sardinian wines are rarely seen on UK wine shelves. Unlike its island cousin Sicily, further south and east, Sardinia has not yet penetrated the mainstream wine markete here, and indeed its wine production remains one of the lowest by area of all of Italy’s regions. The reasons are probably to do with the different cultures that have occupied, or attempted to occupy, this, the second largest island in the Mediterranean. Though these include Spain, Austria and France, all strong wine cultures, Sardinia has always resisted outside influence, and its relatively remote situation means that farming on the island is diverse, having one of the world’s highest densitites of sheep (around half of Italy’s total flock), as well as cattle, wheat, fruit, vegetables and olives.
The mix of grape varieties is unusual for Italy, with French varieties dominant: Grenache (known here as Cannonau), Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon, with Vermentino and Moscato for white wines. There are also plantings of a number of very localised varieties with unfamiliar names, including Niederra, Nuragus, Torbato and Nasco.
Agronomist Antonella Corda’s journey took her from Trentino back to the Island of Sardinia and her family estate in 2010. A 40-acre farm with 15 hectares of vines and 12 of olive trees, she set about transforming it into a wine producing estate. Lying around 12 miles north of the main port of Cagliari in the region of Serdiana, there are two vineyards, both managed in a sustainable and organic system (though not currently certified), one composed of sand, clay and loam with a significant limestone presence, the other plot richer in pebbles. Vermentino is the main focus, though Cannonau and the indigenous Nuragus are also cultivated.
It is a modern operation, designed and developed in Antonella’s time, with vines trained in the Guyot system and the small cellar housing stainless steel tanks and French oak barriques, but also clay amphorae, the latter used for the ‘Ziru’ blend tasted below.
I was delighted to have a chance to taste these high quality wines, which are brought into the UK by Liberty Wines, so there is some availability through independent wine merchants and Italian specialists.