Beginner’s Guide to Sardinia: Sardinian Wine

Beginner’s Guide to Sardinia: Sardinian Wine

If you like your wines, then you’ve probably tasted at least one Italian wine at some stage.

A sign I came across during my travels in Australia – it matches the topic nicely!

Even if you’re not too familiar with Italian wines in general, it’s likely that you’ve probably heard of Chianti from Tuscany, or perhaps even Pinot Grigio, hailing from the northern regions of Italy.

These are just two examples – Italy is definitely no stranger to a huge range of award winning wines the world over. Sardinia is no different.

Sardinian Cannonau grape vines

Now, a bit of a disclaimer before I begin…

I‘m no expert, but I do enjoy a glass of wine or two in good company, and have tried almost everything that Sardinia has to offer.

With this guide you’re not likely to impress a sommelier, but it will give you an idea of what to look out for on your trip to Sardinia. 

So, without further ado, here is the ‘Beginner’s Guide to Sardinian Wines’.

Cannonau

Cannonau is the most common red wine found in Sardinia. The Cannonau grape is known as Grenache in France, and Garnacha in Spain, and is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world.

The origin of the Cannonau grape is disputed. The Spanish say that the grape originated in Spain.

Sardinians however maintain that it originated in Sardinia, and was spread to Spain during their conquest of the island.

One thing is for certain though, Cannonau is strong, both in flavour and alcohol strength. The alcohol content rarely ever goes below 13%.

It’s this full-bodied flavour and alcohol content that make it perfect for strong cheeses – Casu Marzu anyone? – and Sardinian Porcheddu.

There are three variations of Cannonau grape found in Sardinia, located in three distinct areas.

Cannonau from Jerzu

This is the type originating in the town of Jerzu on Sardinia’s Ogliastra coast.

Cannonau from Capo Ferrato

This is probably the least famous of the three types of Cannonau grape. It hails from Capo Ferrato, close to the town of Muravera, on Sardinia’s southeastern coast.

Nepente from Oliena

This is probably the most famous of the three varieties of Cannonau, originating in the Barbagian town of Oliena, in central Sardinia.

Vernaccia di Oristano grapes

Monica

Monica di Sardegna is probably the 2nd most popular red wine in Sardinia, and it’s grown all across the island. This red wine is generally lighter than Cannonau, and rarely goes above 11% volume of alcohol.

Monica di Cagliari is a notable sweet wine made from the grape, however Monica di Sardegna is a drier wine.

Monica can be classed as a crowd pleasing table wine, and it pairs well with Malloreddus alla campidanese – traditional Sardinian pasta made with pork sausage ragù.

Carignano

Carignano del Sulcis is a red wine made from the Carignano grape, grown in the Sulcis area in the south west of Sardinia. The area of Sulcis now falls into the province of Sud Sardegna.

According to the specification, at least 85% of Carignano del Sulcis must be obtained from Carignano grapes. The remaining 15% can be matched by other non-aromatic red grape varieties suitable for cultivation in Sardinia.

Vermentino

Vermentino di Sardegna is a widely planted grape in Sardinia, and by far is the most famous white wine on the island. The Vermentino grape produces a slightly fizzy white wine.

The most famous Vermentino on the island hails from Gallura, in the northeast of Sardinia.

Vermentino wine goes great with any fish or seafood dish. It’s also great for an aperitivo!

Vernaccia

Vernaccia di Oristano, as its name suggests, comes from the province of Oristano.

The Vernaccia di Oristano grape is used to make a range of white wines, both dry and sweet. Some ‘sherry-like’ fortified wines are also made from this grape on a local level.

Despite the similar names, Vernaccia di Oristano is not related to the Tuscan grape Vernaccia used in the production of Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Vernaccia di Oristano is believed to have been introduced to Sardinia in 800 BC by Phoenician settlers.

Nuragus

Nuragus, is for lovers of particularly dry white wines.

This variety of grape is generally found in the south part of Sardinia. The name is related to the town of Nuragus in Sardinia’s Campidano area.

Similar to Vernaccia di Oristano, it’s believed to have been introduced by Phoenician settlers.

A typical Sardinian vineyard – Province of Oristano

Overview

In my time here in Sardinia, I’ve had my fair share of these wines and they all offer something different!

My absolute favourite though, hands down, has to be the Nepente from Oliena – it goes perfect with any traditional Sardinian meat dish…

Bottles of Nepente can be found in supermarkets all over the island, and although it always costs that little bit more than other wines, it’s worth the extra couple of euro!

Vineyard with a view – Dolianova, South Sardinia

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what your favourite Sardinian wine is in the comments section below…

Also, be sure to follow Viva La Dolce Vita on Instagram here, or Facebook here, for daily pictures, and weekly posts about Sardinia!

4 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Sardinia: Sardinian Wine”

  1. Love your blog Barry. I found it in the FB Sardinian group. The articles have been really helpful and useful, so thank you for sharing your insights, knowledge and experience.

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