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What our expert thought of Gabbas ‘Lillové’ Cannonau di Sardegna




the tasting

The Tasting


Cannonau’s skins are not deeply coloured (one of the reasons it is usually blended) and you can really see that in this wine’s transparently pale ruby colour.  I know there are small amounts of Graciano and Carignano in this along with the Cannonau, but they must be really tiny amounts since both those grapes are very dark.  I also suspect that the maceration has been particularly gentle, so as not to extract too much tannin from the skins in a wine intended to be drunk young.
 
The delightful nose is earthy, fragrant and floral, with geraniums and violets over very ripe soft red fruits: cherry, strawberry and wrinkled plum.  Adding complexity are notes of dried bayleaf and cinnamon.
 
Dry but sweet-fruited, this has good acidity for this grape and surprising elegance for a wine at 14%.  It’s rounded and warm, but there’s a lovely unoaked purity to the ripe red plum and cherry fruit, which is given some depth by a distinct note of liquorice and a minerally iron tang.
 
Velvety smooth tannins add structure and weight, especially on the warm, sweet-tasting finish, which is spicy with white pepper.  The iron note appears here too, along with a lingering impression of tea leaves.


Assessment


Whether you call it Cannonau, Garnacha or Grenache, this is a wonderful example of the warm, red-fruited charms of this underappreciated variety.  Its fragrance, purity and mineral streak remind me of the fine Marañones Garnacha from Spain’s Gredos mountains that we enjoyed last year.
 
However, that wine showed Garnacha at its most Pinot Noir-ish, while this one is perhaps more typical of its grape.  It’s a lovely example of the lighter side of Cannonau di Sardegna, a wine that is all too often hot with alcohol (15% and up) and thick with mouth-puckering tannin.  But, as this delicious red demonstrates, when it’s good it’s very, very good.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear pale ruby, strong legs
Nose

Intensity medium+, fragrant & fine

Aromas earth (tilled soil), floral (geranium, violet), ripe red fruit (cherry, strawberry, wrinkled plum), dried herbs (bay), spice (cinnamon)

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness dry, but sweet-fruited

Acidity medium

Body medium+, round but elegant for 14%

Tannins medium(+?), velvety, very smooth

Intensity medium+

Flavours juicy ripe red fruits (plum, cherry), spice (liquorice), mineral (iron)
Finish

Length medium+

Flavours as palate, warm, spice (white pepper), mineral (iron), ends on tea leaves
Other notes
No reduction. Unoaked. Bright soft fruit.


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