wine in Sardinia
B&B Mario e Giovanna
INTRODUCTION TO SARDINIAN WINES
Sardinia's oenological vocation dates back to ancient times: prehistoric vases and other equipment, somehow related to wine, have been found in the Island, and probably come from the Mycenaean area, famous for its wines. Grapes were most likely imported in the Island by Phoenicians; in 1992, in Monastir (CA), remains of red wine were found in a stone press, along with a Greek style jug (IX sec. B.C.). Further discoveries of grape seeds in the Genna Maria Nuraghe, in Villanovaforru (900 B.C.) and in the Phoenician necropolis of Monte Sirai (580 B.C.) seem to confirm this data.
Wine was certainly produced during the Carthaginian domination, but the Punic did not love wine, and therefore ordered that all fruit trees be cut down, including vines. Most of the land was used for wheat growing, officially marking the beginning of Sardinia's reputation as the granary of the Mediterranean.
This situation persisted during the Roman period, up to the Empire, but later on vine growing was liberalised, and a wine trade between Rome and Sardinia began. In some cases, acts of worship developed, as the numerous statues of Bacchus-Dionysus found in the centre of Cagliari seem to prove.
A prosperous economy, connected to vine growing, existed in Sardinia during the XII and XIII cent., as proved by legislative sources: the Statutes of the Commune of Sassari and the "Carta de Logu", the most important law text dating from the period when Sardinia was independent, forbade any wine import and set corporal punishments for those who uprooted vineyards. Wine remained, for a long period of time, one of the most important resources of the Island's economy.
The grape harvest took place, like nowadays, between the end of September and early November.
The creation of the Royal Oenological School in Cagliari, during the 19th century, marked a turning point in local oenology, providing a stimulus to wine activities in that period.
After a crisis due to an invasion of phylloxera (vine pest), a parasitic insect which attacks plants, at the end of the 19th cent. vine growing began again at high rates, and Sardinian wine is today officially recognised for its quality. All the efforts to improve the latter have gained important results, and today Sardinian wines are not only used to enrich foreign wines, but are also held in high esteem for their specific characteristics.
Here are some of the most renowned wines:
- Cannonau, red wine, good with typical meat dishes;
- Carignano, red or rosé, excellent with starters, roast meat, and aged cheese;
- Semidano, white table wine, ideal with first courses, fish soups, lean meat soups; it's also a Brut sparkling wine;
- Nuragus, white wine, excellent with fish dishes;
- Vernaccia, classic aperitif wine, also good with almond-paste sweets;
- Malvasia, dessert wine, probably imported during the Byzantine period; a sparkling wine is produced with the same grapes;
- Vini Novelli (New Wines), obtained by fermentation of must inside airtight containers, not in the open air as usual; you can taste these wines in early November.
Most of these species of vine, originally imported, are nowadays Sardinian in all respects.