* Observations from a sponsored press trip to the Gallura region of Sardegna, September 2015
Sardegna is full of things that draw you into the island’s untamed wildness.
Shepherd dogs herding sheep in the moonlight.
Age-old nuraghi, megalithic structures from ancient Nuragic civilization.
Cork forests where time seems to stand still.
Granite stone curiously shaped by wind, eyes of the island, watching everything.
Absorbing Sardegna’s poem of powerful, mysterious, untamed wildness, goes a long way in listening for … and understanding … what Cannonau has to say.
On a recent trip to Gallura in Sardegna’s northeast corner, my visit to Vigne Surrau winery helped with the quality of that process.
Let’s begin by getting something sorted:
Cannonau is a synonym for Grenache, or Garnacha, if you are among the folks who believe that the vine was brought to Sardegna by the Spanish. The grape is also known as Alicante elsewhere in Italy. Cannonau is grown far and wide in Sardegna. In fact, the Cannonau di Sardegna DOC production zone covers most of the island, the vine having adapted well to the heat and dryness.
Now, how shall I say this politely … I have on other occasions tasted Cannonau that played second fiddle to the more preeminent wines of certain areas. So, regarding Cannonau in Gallura, one might naturally fear its role to be as an ornament in service to what many see as Gallura’s star DOCG attraction, Vermentino di Gallura.
I found Vigne Surrau’s Cannonau wines to be neither self-conscious nor derivative alongside Gallura’s Vermentino tradition, able to communicate that dimension of untamed wildness and the island’s natural environment. The wines drank with an appreciated rusticity controlled with a dose of modern polish, rich, earthy, with evocative Mediterranean notes.
Produced from Cannonau grown in decomposed granite soils. After vinification in stainless steel the wine spends several months in concrete tanks. Rich scents of wild berries, spice and black pepper, notes of Mediterranean bush. Svelte in the mouth, with a big yet supple structure, mineral sensations and great length. Sensational.
Sincaru Riserva 2011
Made only in the best vintages, after long maceration, spends 24 months in large oak. Powerful, intense, yet very smooth, this Riserva shows more nuance than Sincaru normale, a more jammy quality to the fruit, sense of forest floor, roasted meat, and a long, persistent finish. A stunning bottle of wine that sets a serious varietal benchmark.
A blend of Cannonau, Carignano, Bovale Sardo (Muristellu) and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French oak for twelve months and several more months in bottle. Full bodied and expansive with tons of plummy berry fruit, scents of Mediterranean bush, balanced notes of vanilla. Elegant, supple on the palate, and a persistent finish that ends with a pleasantly bitter note, courtesy, I suspect, of the Muristellu. Big personality.
A blend of Cannonau, Carignano, Bovale Sardo (Muristellu) and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vinified and aged in steel, three weeks maceration on skins. Spice and Mediterranean herbs against a bright, juicy core of fresh red berry fruit. Easy to drink.
Surrau Brut Rose 2010
100% Cannonau grapes produced using metodo classico, Surrau Brut Rose is held at constant temperature for 24 months for second fermentation, another 2 months in bottle after disgorgement before release. Light rose color like you’d see at sunset, elegantly perfumed, precise on the palate, with fine perlage. A classy, sophisticated wine.
Sole Ruju 2013
Produced with Cannonau and Muristellu (Bovale Sardo), grapes for this passito are picked during the last days of October and left to dry on trays. After fermentation is carried out in stainless steel, the wine is the aged in 500 litre oak barrels for several months. Deep ruby color, rich aromas of forest berries, fragrances that evoke the Mediterranean, and a finish that echoes on and on. A thought provoking wine of emotional intensity.