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This Italian Mediterranean island has wonderful conditions for making beautiful wines but hasn’t entirely joined the modern winemaking world yet. It has plenty going for it though, including ancient bush vines of interesting local varieties. Many of those grapes came from Spain centuries ago, when Sardinia was controlled by the Kingdom of Aragon.
Sardinia is home to one of only a handful of DOCG white wines in Italy: Vermentino di Gallura, a crisp and characterful white that is a great partner to all manner of seafood dishes. The success of this wine comes in the marriage between the grape Vermentino and the northeastern region of Gallura, with Vermentino benefiting from Gallura’s high temperatures and sea breezes.
The island’s best-known red comes from the grape Cannonau (the native version of Garnacha) which is used to make both dry and sweet (passito) wines. These can be produced anywhere on the island to use the name Cannonau di Sardegna, just as Vermentino can be grown anywhere to be called Vermentino di Sardegna.
In the southwest of the island, gnarled old bush vines of Carignano (Carignan) produce what is probably the island’s best red, Carignano del Sulcis. This is regarded as the best spot in the world for Carignan, which elsewhere is almost always blended.
Other wines to look out for are reds from the Nebbiolo grape and whites from Moscato (Muscat) and Torbato.
Sardinia is the largest Mediterranean island, and rather more famous as a beach holiday destination than as a source of fine wine. Although it is part of Italy, its geography, climate and wine have rather more in common with French Corsica just to the north than with mainland Italy. In the Middle Ages both islands were part of the Aragon Empire which was based in northern Spain. Many of their grapes consequently hail from Spain ‐ but probably not this one.
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