Regional capital: Cagliari
Provinces: Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano, Sassari
Sardinia (pronounced /sɑrˈdɪniə/; Italian: Sardegna, [sarˈdeɲɲa]; Sardinian: Sardigna or Sardinnya [sarˈdinja]) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily). It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are (clockwise from north) the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia, and the Spanish Balearic Islands.
The name Sardinia is a Latin creation, possibly based on that of the dominant indigenous ethnic group, called the Sardi/Sardini in Latin
Climate and Geography
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 23,821 km². It is situated between 38° 51' and 41° 15' latitude north and 8° 8' and 9° 50' east longitude.
The coasts of Sardinia (1,849 km long) are generally high and rocky, with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline, many outstanding headlands, a few wide, deep bays, many inlets, and with various smaller islands off the coast.
The island has an ancient geoformation and, unlike the mainland of Italy and Sicily, is not earthquake-prone. Its rocks date from the Palaeozoic Era (up to 500 million years old). Due to long erosion processes the island's highlands, formed of granite, schist, tranchite, basalt (called "jars" or "gollei"), sandstone and dolomite limestone (called tonneri or "heels"), average at between 300 to 1,000 metres. The highest peak is Punta La Marmora (1,834 m), part of the Gennargentu ranges in the center of the island. Other mountain chains are Monte Limbara (1,362 m) in the north east, the Chain of Marghine and Goceano (1,259 m) running crosswise for 40 km (24.85 mi) towards the north, the Monte Albo (1057 meters), the Sette Fratelli Range in the south east, and the Sulcis Mountains and the Monte Linas (1236 meters) in the south west. The island's ranges and plateaus are separated by wide alluvial valleys and flatlands, the main ones being the Campidano in the southwest between Oristano and Cagliari, and the Nurra in the northwest.
Sardinia has few major rivers, the largest being the Tirso, 151 km (93.83 mi) long, which flows into the Sea of Sardinia, the Coghinas (115 km) and the Flumendosa (127 km). There are 54 artificial lakes and dams which supply water and electricity. The main ones are Lake Omodeo and Lake Coghinas. The only natural freshwater lake is Lago di Baratz. A number of large, shallow, salt-water lagoons and pools are located along the 1,850 km (1,149.54 mi) of the coastline.
The island has a typical Mediterranean climate. During the year there are approximately 300 days of sunshine, with a major concentration of rainfall in the winter and autumn, some heavy showers in the spring, and snowfalls in the highlands. The average temperature is between 14 and 14 to 20 °C (57 to 68 °F). The Mistral from the northwest is the dominant wind on and off throughout the year, though it is most prelavent in winter and spring. It can blow quite strongly, but it is usually dry and cool, and makes for a sailor's paradise.
A journey through Sardegna is a journey that involves all the senses: a vast array of perfumes, flavours and colours beckon as one leaves the larger cities behind. The wine routes of the island lead to fantastic landscapes where viticulture has been in existence since pre-Roman times, a tradition that began with the people of the nuraghi and continues into the third millennium. From the Romans to the late Sardinina-Piedmontese kingdom, through the Tuscan and Genovese fiefdoms, the Benedictine or Camaldolean monks and the Spaniards, all contributed to expand and introduce new techniques. The panorama is never monotonous or repetitive and at times displays or hides the remote, unique and complex origins of this Mediterranean island.
The nuraghi represent the evolution of the megalithic civilisation and show a rational approach to building, as proven by their conical shape, which make it easier to pile the large stones on top of each other. The shape and strategic deployment of the nuraghi led to believe they were military and defensive constructions. The hypothesis was superseded by recent discoveries which showed that they were also used for religious purposes.
Isolation in mid-Mediterranean has made Sardinia the most idiosyncratic of Italian regions. Its 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 Muscat and Malvasia, but several other varities are practically unique in Italy, such as Giro`, Cannonau, Nuragus, Monica, Torbato and Vernaccia di Oristano.
Sardinia's major 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 - Ciro`, Malvasia, Monica, Moscato, Nasco and Nuragus - carry the name of Cagliari in their denominations.
The northwestern coastal area around Sassari and Alghero and the wooded slopes of the Gallura peninsula in the northeast are noted for quality whites. Vermentino dominates the dry wines, though the non-DOC Torbato can be every bit as distinguished. Moscato is notable from Sorso and Sennori and Tempio Pausania. Vineyards in the rugged eastern coastal range around Nuoro are noted for the rich, red Cannonau.
Much of Sardinia's production is carried out by cooperatives. Amont DOC wines, whites predominate by nearly two to one over reds. 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 if rather neutral in flavour.
Vermentino, a variety also planted in Liguria and parts of Tuscany, makes a white of distinct style in Sardinia, notably in the Gallura zone, though it can now be produced throughout the region as a light, often fizzy DOC wine.
The island's two important red varieties are Cannonau, a relative of the Granacha brought from Spain, and Monica, also of Spanish origin. Both can by dry or sweet, though trends favour the dry type toned down in strength from the traditionally heroic proportions. Cannonau of note comes from the towns of Oliena, Jerzu and Dorgali and the coastal hills of Capo Ferrato. It makes a fine sweet wine, which can be reminiscent of Port, as in the rich Anghelu Ruju. Carignano del Sulcis, from the southwest, is also of Spanish origin. A curiosity among the reds in the moderately sweet Ciro` di Cagliari.
Moscato can be either still or sparkling. Malvasia may be sweet, but is perhaps most impressive dry from the west coast town of Bosa and the Planargia hills.
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 flavour.
DOCG and DOC AREAS
- Vermentino di Gallura
- Campidano di Terralba or Terralba
- Cannonau di Sardegna - Sub-denominations: Capoferrato, Jerzu, Oliena o Nepente di Oliena
- Carignano del Sulcis
- Girò di Cagliari
- Malvasia di Bosa
- Malvasia di Cagliari
- Monica di Cagliari
- Monica di Sardegna
- Moscato di Cagliari
- Moscato di Sardegna - Sub-denominations: Tempio o Gallura
- Moscato di Sorso-Sennori
- Nasco di Cagliari
- Nuragus di Cagliari
- Sardegna Semidano
- Vermentino di Sardegna
- Vernaccia di Oristano
- Colli del Limbara
- Isola dei Nuraghi
- Nuoro or Provincia di Nuoro
- Valle del Tirso
- Valli di Porto Pino
Grapes and wines
It's well-known that soil composition and climate play an important role in grape growing and wine production. Such a favorable combination of such elements contributed to making the Vermentino di Gallura one of the only four Italian DOCG white wines. The Vermentino, with its delicate aromas of fruit and hint of almonds in the finish, is a wine to be drunk young. In addition to being the perfect complement to all kinds of seafood recipes, from shrimp salads to elaborate seafood platters with vegetables and smoked cernia or swordfish, this wine is delicious as an exciting aperitif for all occasions. The Vermentino di Gallura DOCG finesse comes from the combination of ongoing quality control, the richness of the granite decomposition of soil and the microclimate where the original grapes are grown.
In Gallura, the Moscato and Nebbiolo grapes thrive as well. The spumante-dolce version of the 'Moscato di Tempio DOC' is among the most delicate and appreciated dessert wines produced on the island. The red Nebbiolo, known as 'Nebbiolo di Luras', has recently met with a widespread success among wine lovers. In the northwestern part of the island, the Torbato vines grow on seafront fields near Alghero. Of ancient Spanish origin, the Torbato grape produces a dry white wine that in the last twenty years has reached international appreciation. It is produced with selected grapes as well in a special version known as Terre Bianche or White Lands in addition to a spumante brut version.
In addition to Torbato, the vineyards around Alghero include Cannonau, the most famous red wine produced in Sardinia. The 'Vermentino di Sardegna', the Nasco and, more recently, the red Cabernet Sauvignon and the white Sauvignon have found an extremely favorable habitat here. The areas of Usini and around Sassari are examples of the favorable island habitat that contributed to the popularity of the Vermentino di Sardegna.
Moving south to the hilly sites of the Planargia, in the Nuoro province, one finds the well-known Malvasia di Bosa DOC, a semi-sweet meditation / conversation white wine with typical flowery bouquet. A spumante demi-sec version is currently available as well.
Still in the Nuoro province, opposite the coastal area of Bosa one finds the production area of the extraordinary Cannonau - Nepente di Oliena, a wine celebrated by the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio. The Nepente di Oliena comes from grapes grown on a kind of soil rare in Italy, a clay similar in composition to the one where the Champagne of Reims is cultivated. Good quality Cannonau DOC is also produced around Oliena and Ogliastra.
Moving south, one finds the red and rosé Mandrolisai DOC production area around the center of Sorgono. In the valley of Tirso and the Oristano plains, located at the same latitude of of the Mandrolisai growing area but on different habitat another famous Sardinian wine, the Vernaccia di Oristano DOC is produced. This is an ancient, aging, golden yellow white wine that can be compared to the best Jerez wines. It is a perfect meditation / conversation wine that can be paired with the most refined of the traditional island pastries.
Also of ancient origins is the Semidano grape, which in recent times saw new appreciation for both the dry and sweet versions. From the Oristano area comes the Nieddera as well, a wine particularly good with barbeque and game. Moving to the southernmost tip of the island, one finds the Nuragus di Cagliari DOC made from the Nuragus, arguably the most ancient grape cultivated in Sardinia. A dry white wine that recently acquired national respect thanks to the careful production of local winemakers. In recent years, the warm and full-flavored Malvasia di Cagliari DOC has also seen a rise in popularity similar to that of the Nuragus.
Along the plain of Campidano and in the areas of Serrabus - Muravera are produced various brands of excellent Cannonau di Sardegna and delicious Monica di Cagliari DOC.
As final a final destination on our wine testing tour of the island from north to south, we would like to propose the Carignano del Sulcis DOC. Probably imported in ancient times by the French, the Carignano del Sulcis is today a precious wine that confirm the excellent connection between the ancient and the modern achieved by Sardinian oenology.
As a corollary to the wine list of Sardinian wines, we must not forget the production of dessert wines, liquor-like wines and meditation wines that are usually passiti and contains higher alcoholic percentage. The Cannonau produced around Alghero, Oliena and Tortolì are red passiti, while Vermentino and Nasco produced around Monti and Alghero are white passiti. In addition, excellent grappe from single grapes are produced all over the island, such as the Cannonau Passito or Nasco Passito of Alghero, the Vermentino of Monti, Moscato and Vermentino in Bosa and the Vernaccia in Oristano.
- WINE LIST
- GRAPE VARIETIES