Located off the west coast of Italy,Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, is famous for its clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and virgin coastline. But it’s also a paradise for wine lovers. Sardinia’s wines are very different compared to those in the Italian peninsula. The Island’s far Mediterranean location, as well as the diverse influence from other cultures, gives the wines and unique personality that is more in line with Spanish than Italian wines.
The most popular and most planted variety is Cannonau ( known in France as Grenache). It produces full flavoured and unique red wines. Carignano (Carignan) and Giro are other red varieties grown here. There is also Monica and Malvasia Nera as well. For whites, Vermentino is the most fashionable one, producing crisp, dry wines with wonderful character.
Some wineries, opt to produce are international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These grapes can be bottled as single varietals or blended with local grapes, like Cannonau. However, the viticultural bounty of Sardinia is in their autochthonous varieties. There are 20 confirmed indigenous ones and more than 100 types to be discovered.
Argiolas winery, soulful wines of Sardinia
The story of Argiolas winery goes hand to hand with their own family. The family roots go back to the early 1900s, in Sardinia a land of contadini, where in 1906, Antonio, the patriarch, was born. He is the person who began to plant vineyards in the pursuit to produce quality wines. His two sons, Franco and Giuseppe inherit his savoir faire from him, sharing and transmitting on to their wives Pina and Marianna, and then to their offspring. Today, in the winery, the third Argiolas generation, that of Antonio’s grandchildren is already at work. Antonio, Valentina and Francesca.
The winery is located in Sardinia, near Cagliari,in an area of rolling hills, cultivated for thousand years that are perfect for wine production. A bounty of sun and wind, with the sea near enough acting as thermostat to regulate heat and cold. The wines of the winery come from the grapes of five farms: Iselis, Su Pranu, Parteolla, Trexenta, Sulcis. Argiolas mission is to only produce wine from traditional grapes and resurrect ancient varieties.
Recently Panoram Italia had a chance to meet Valentina Argiolas, third generation of the family as well as its commercial director: Beppi Pinna. Together we tasted 4 of their wines available in the SAQ.
Argiolas Meri Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC 2016. SAQ # 13044416 $19.95. ( Next arrival Fall 2017)
100 % Vermentino
A Vermentino with lots of complexity. Citrus aromas bringing to mind freshly cut limes and meyer lemon. With time in the glass, in depth floral notes jump from the glass: Jazmin, Verbena, Magnolia with a subtle and delicate note of white pepper. On the mouth, the wine is round, enveloping your mouth with its freshness. A crispy and salty finale. Food match: Spaghetti with ricci di mare, carpaccio di tonno.
Argiolas Perdera Monica di Sardegna DOC 2014. SAQ # 424291. $16.05 ( Next arrival May 2017)
90 % Monica, 5% Bovale Sardo, 5% Carignan
Very special nose. Rich in spices , tobacco, wild herbs ( rosemary, eucalyptus), prunes and creamed cassis. Structured yet refined in the palate. Silky tannins with an exuberant finale. Long aftertaste with oak well integrated. Food match: Zuppa di Pesce, Fregula con Vongole.
Argiolas Costera Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 2014. SAQ # 972380. $19.90. ( Next arrival July 2017)
90% Cannonau, 5% Carignano, 5% Bovale
Lots of depth in this red. Rich in animal nuances bringing to mind cured prosciutto, cocoa with blackberry puree. On the mouth, full body, yet round with caressing tannins. More floral than dark fruit in taste. Very long with soulful vinous finale. Food match: Arrosto di Porcellino di maiale
Argiolas Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2012. SAQ # 12986727. $71.00. ( Next arrival in a near future)
85 % Cannonau, 5% Carignano, 5% Bovale Sardo, 5% Malvasia Nera
In depth complexity. Very redolent of ripe black fruits, roasted black earth, garum sauce and black cured olives. On the mouth, very racy and long. Oak is present but well integrated. Flavors bring to mind garrigue, wild herbs. Rich and layered texture. An harmonious finale. Food match: Cinghiale alla brace, Pecorino Fiore Sardo.