Gallura, Sardinia, Italy 2018
GRAPE: CARIGNANO [car-eeg-NYAHN-oh]
The best guess origin for Carignan is probably, (definitely) the town of Cariñena in Spain, which then made its way all over the Iberian peninsula, passing through the Mediterannean, and on to the take on the entire world centuries ago. It’s locally also called “Bovale di Spagna,” more than hinting at that Spanish origin. High in acid and endowed with bright red color but often gruff tannins, it takes a deft hand to display such an elegantly beautiful example of Carignan’s potential greatness.
GROWER: Despite the previously often lackluster reputation of Sardinian wines, (which were blended and amended for many years,) the Capichera estate, family-owned since the 19th century, has been leading the charge for varietal expression and quality wines with great aging potential. Located in the northeast pocket of Gallura, they are in prime Vermentino country, with their 1980 Vermentino recently lauded by Parker as one of the best aged white wines in Italy, and lovingly critiqued as “Mediterranean Montrachet;” their reds are not to be outdone and possess the same power. Capichera purchased old Carignan vineyards planted in the granite unique to Gallura and named this bottling after the rising sun in the East: “Liànti” in Gallurese.
GLASS: The Gallura granite here gives this Carignan its exotic Mediterranean mineral sheen, with an alluring red fruit and black plum crispness dusted with a skosh of cocoa powder. For having its roots in a dry arid plateau, there is an intriguing seaspray coastal forest floor character that is as mesmerizing as it is quenching.
Side Notes: SARDEGNA a la Española
Sardinia is as Mediterranean as it gets, smack dab in the middle of the sea with Iberia to the West, Corsica just 10 miles North, the whole boot in the East, and Sicily a skip to the South. And it’s been a trading hub since ancient Phoenicia, with relics all over the island like 4,000 year old stone hut ruins where grapes were crushed, so yeah, wine and Sardinia go way back. As the second largest island in the Med and a hotbed of agriculture and trade, Sardinia is a cultural melting pot with a pretty notable 400 years of Spanish reign from 1323-1720. Most of Sardinia’s native grape varieties, (and there are a lot!) are not truly sprung-from-the-soil indigenous, but Spanish cultivars brought centuries ago and adapted to the island’s hot and dry sun-soaked climate to become Sardinian staples. The island is a cornucopia of the Mediterranean diet; a smorgasbord of seafood of course (sardines, anyone?) lamb, olives, semolina, artichokes, and wine wine wine. Small family farms with wee vineyards often share in co-op wineries to make their own little production, making co-op bottlings the main wine to come off the island, affordable and delicious. In the last few decades though, more and more small producers have built their own wineries and ignited interest in world-class vino Sardo.