Wine and Sardinia. A 900-year-old story that goes back to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, who brought the first vines to the beautiful Mediterranean island. The Sardinians are known for their love of the island's own traditions and for being skeptical of foreign influences at first. From the start, Sardinian winegrowers concentrated on their own regional grape varieties, which, however, were mass-produced until the 1980s and were mostly supplied to large wineries on the Italian mainland. However, this model was not viable for Sardinian winegrowers in the long term and many gave up viticulture. The area under cultivation in Sardinia has been halved from formerly over 70,000 hectares to currently between 30,000 and 40,000 hectares. The winegrowers who survived this transformation began to rethink and produce high-quality wines themselves from the island's autochthonous grape varieties. Sardinia gradually gained more and more international reputation as a wine-growing region. Nowadays, the cultivation of white and red wines is roughly balanced.
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White wine varieties in Sardinia
Along with the red wine variety Cannonau, Vermentino is the best known and most popular wine variety in Sardinia and Vermentino di Gallura is the only DOCG wine. However, in addition to the "big player" Vermentino, wonderful other regional white wine varieties are also produced, such as Nuragus di Cagliari, Torbato, Vernaccia di Oristano, Semidano and the mostly sweet Moscato di Sardegna. In the following we want to take a closer look at the white wine varieties of Sardinia.
The growing areas of Vermentino are mainly in the north of the island. Its origin has not been fully clarified to this day, but it is believed that the grape variety came to Sardinia with the Spaniards. In the glass, Vermentino wines usually have a straw-yellow color with green reflections and an intense, full-bodied aroma with pleasant acids. You can usually recognize it by its typical, slightly bitter herbal aromas of Mediterranean herbs and a salty minerality, which are more or less worked out depending on the expansion variant. Rounded off by fruity notes of apple and exotic fruits such as pineapple. The Vermentino is represented in Sardinia from simple table wine to complex flagship wines from various wineries and is now one of the most popular wines in all of Italy.
Nuragus di Cagliari
The name of the Nuragus di Cagliari derives from the nuraghe towers of the Bonnanaro culture from 2,200 - 1,600 BC. on Sardinia. The Nuragus probably came to the island with the Phoenicians. For a long time he existed next to the overpowering Vermentino, hardly noticed. However, nowadays we are finding more and more excellent white wines made from this exciting regional grape variety. With its variety of aromas of pears, apples and quinces, combined with a slightly salty note and its straw-yellow color, the Nuragus grape variety shows the variety that Sardinia's terroir has to offer.
The Torbato grape variety, known in France under the names Malvoisie du Roussillon and Malvoisie des Pyrénées-Orientales, probably also came to Sardinia with the Spaniards in the 14th or 15th century, who had good trade relations with France. Torbato is grown almost exclusively in northern Sardinia around Alghero. The Cantina Sella & Mosca in particular has dedicated itself to the Torbato and produces excellent white wines from the very sensitive grape. The color of the Torbato in the glass is usually golden yellow. In terms of aroma, wines from this grape variety are full-bodied, with floral notes of chamomile, for example, fresh and fruity and pleasantly mineral.
Vernaccia di Oristano
A special white wine specialty from Sardinia is the Vernaccia di Oristano, which is also often called "Sardinian sherry" and is usually enjoyed as an aperitif. It is also found in many Sardinian recipes. There are many legends about its origin. Today we know that Vernaccia is actually one of the oldest grape varieties in human history and is actually the archetypal Sardinian wine, since its origin can be traced back a good 3,000 years. Like sherry, Varnaccia matures in oak and chestnut casks that are not completely full and is similar in its aroma, although no further alcohol is added to Vernaccia di Oristano during maturation. It is a pure wine that can reach up to 16% alcohol by volume. Amber in the glass and with a very unique taste that is intense, warm and dry, reminiscent of bitter almonds on the finish. Similar to sherry, it is drunk unchilled in small glasses on various occasions.
The Semidano grape variety is hardly known beyond the borders of Sardinia. This is mainly grown around Cagliari. Straw yellow in color and with aromas of autumn fruits such as pears and quinces, combined with Mediterranean herbal notes, it produces beautiful independent white wines and fine spumante.
Moscato di Sardegna
In Sardinia it is mainly made as a dessert wine, sparkling wine or sparkling wine, the Moscato di Sardegna. The Moscato or Gelber Muskateller in German is one of the internationally popular grape varieties that are known for their intense bouquet.