*Observations from a sponsored press trip to the region during September 2015
First, there is the stone, the granite.
It commands the landscape.
It sinks into you, permeates consciousness, overseer of the primal bond between land and man.
On Sardegna’s northeast coast, in the area known as Gallura, granite hills play host to an especially profound expression of Vermentino known as Vermentino di Gallura. The region’s granite soils contribute to the wine’s complexity, body, minerality and beguiling perfume.
And, in Gallura, if you stand still just long enough, you will feel that the wind, too, is there with you.
Keeping the vines dry, preventing disease.
Its antediluvian whispers carry the subtle scent of Mediterranean Sea, a deliciously salty grace note that can be tasted in the region’s wines.
Stone. Wind. Sea.
Holy trinity in which Vermentino di Gallura finds it identity under the Sardinian sun.
Vermentino is grown widely in Sardegna and along Mediterranean coastlines. When cultivated in Gallura, however, Vermentino expresses itself in a truly exceptional manner. In fact, Vermentino di Gallura is the only of Sardegna’s wines designated DOCG status, a nomenclature at the top of Italy’s appellation hierarchy, and is surely one of Italy’s most important white wines.
Vigne Surrau, a young winery founded in 2004 located in the area of Porto Cervo / Arzachena, is producing high quality Vermentino di Gallura wines of massive personality and charisma, made in a clean, elegant, and balanced style. The winery owns over 40 hectares of vineyards and produces a stunning line of wines guided by innovative, forward thinking oenologist Mario Siddi, who interprets tradition in a way that links yesterday and today, and points toward a relevant tomorrow. I recently had the good fortune to taste the Vigne Surrau lineup while visiting at the winery. Let’s focus on the winery’s Vermentino wines here (I will cover their reds in a subsequent post):
Branu – An exceedingly splendid example of the sublime freshness and minerality that typify Vermentino di Gallura. Fermented in stainless steel, Branu is a wine of youthful personality, medium body, vitality on the palate, richly textured in the mouth. Vivid flavors and scents of ripe yellow fruit, florals, citrus, minerals, grace notes of salty mint. With fish, shellfish, first and main courses, or alone as an aperitif.
Sciala – Produced from the best grapes selected from Surrau valley’s finest vineyards. Rests on lees for several months. Focused peachy fruit set as background for more exotic notes of jasmine, ginger, sage, mint, saline, underlined with stony minerality, round and pleasingly fat in the mouth. A tremendously interesting wine, Sciala presents a more intense, structured side of Vermentino, with good longevity. The 2008 vintage which I tasted showed gorgeous notes of petrol reminiscent of cellared Riesling and gave good testimony to Vermentino di Gallura’s potential for aging.
Sciala Late Harvest – Made with the same grapes as Sciala, picked 10 days later. 50% of the must ferments in non-toasted French barrels, the other 50% in steel. Big bodied and voluptuous, this late harvest version of Sciala calls out with scents of peachy ripe yellow fruit, herb, delicate florals. Peach flavors transfer to a soft, seductively viscous palate to join tastes of tropical fruit, orange peel, flecked with delicious licks of seasalt. Wonderfully supple, complex, with great persistence.
Surrau Brut Millesmato – With many months spent on lees and a second fermentation in bottle, this 100% Vermentino is intense, complex, structured, in the most refined of ways. Fragrant scents of bread crust typical of “metodo classic” production intermingle with delicate notes of flowers, apple, and herb. Dry, with fine bubble perlage and delicious mineral acidity that enlivens an impeccably fresh palate. Elegant and aristocratic. Excellent with shellfish, first courses, or as an aperitif. But, be good to yourself: enjoy this wine with fresh oysters
Sole di Surrau – So luminiscently golden honey is the color of this Passito di Vermentino that it seems to radiate light from inside to out. As a “Passito”, Sole di Surrau is produced from 100% Vermentino grapes dried open air on mats for one month after harvest. Intense, honeyed notes of caramel, hazelnut, candied orange peel, the wine rolls across the palate with gorgeous syrupy liquidity. Excellent with desserts, seasoned cheeses, or quiet time 🙂