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Details for Gabbas ‘Lillové’ Cannonau di Sardegna

AppellationCannonau di Sargegna DOC
Grenache / Garnacha
(click to find out more)


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.


The Gabbas estate has been part of the Gabbas family for generations.  The family first planted vines here in the early 19th century, but it wasn’t until 1995, after much replanting under the stewardship of current owner and winemaker Giuseppe Gabbas, that they started to bottle and market their own wine.  At first the wines were made elsewhere, but their success inspired Giuseppe to construct his own state-of-the-art winery on the estate. Since the turn of the century the wines have been made there, allowing Giuseppe and his Tuscan oenologist Lorenzo Landi complete control.
Winning a string of Gambero Rosso awards, Giuseppe Gabbas is now one of the most renowned winemakers in Sardinia, acknowleged as the master of Cannonau.  The 35 hectare estate now has 20 hectares under vine, 80% of it Cannonau.  There’s also some Vermentino for the estate’s sole white wine, and a few hectares of Muristellu, a traditional Sardian variety long thought to be indigenous to the island that has recently been shown to the same as the Graciano of Rioja.
The farm sits in the Locoe valley at the foot of the dramatic Supramonte mountains in Barbagia, just east of the island’s centre, and close to the famous wine town of Oliena.  Although Cannonau di Sardegna can come from anywhere in the island, this region has long been recognised as the best for Cannonau and has recently been declared the Classico zone.

about this wine About this wine

This wine takes its name from the location of the vineyard, planted almost entirely with Cannonau at around 320 metres above sea level. The medium-textured granite soil retains enough moisture for the vines even in the dryest of summers, while the low rainfall and windy aspect keeps the vines disease-free, minimising the amount of intervention needed in the vineyard.
The back label reveals (in Italian) that there are small amounts of other local red grapes added to the Cannonau, but doesn’t give any details.  There’s actually around 5% of Muristellu (a local clone of Graciano) and an even smaller splash of Carignano in this wine.
The 2016 vintage was excellent, with plenty of summer heat relieved by just enough rain in September.  The grapes were fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks at 26°C for two weeks.  Aging was also in stainless steel for eight months, during which time the malolactic fermentation took place.  The wine was then aged in bottle for a further four months before release.

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