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Extensive online gallery featuring over 1,000 Italian wine labels
Extensive online gallery featuring over 1,000 Italian wine labels


Sardinia Native Vines – Second Part
Rosa D'Ancona – August 15, 2005

White Native Vines

Albaranzeuli Bianco
This Sardinian vine, known also as Albillo, or Albicello, shows similarities to the Albanello or Albanella from the Marches or Sicilian regions. It is a humble vine, with rather abundant production, resistant to illness, and gives good results in blends with other native grapes. Its origin is uncertain, it may have Spanish roots and is currently almost extinct. The limited cultivation are found in municipalities in the province of Oristano, where it is known as Lacconargiu or Lacconarzu, in addition to in some truly old vineyards around Nuoro. There are no known organoleptic data for varietal wines made with this grape.

This native vine is almost extinct as well. Known also as Arvu Siniadu, Argu Ingiannau or Uva Oschirese, is found sparsely in the province of Sassari. It's a vigorous vine well adjusted to grow on rocky hills and produces big, long bunches with sparse, small grapes. It is used exclusively in table wine blends and there are no specific organoleptic data available.

Moscato Bianco (White Muscat)
The Moscato is one of the most ubiquitous European vines. Among its different clones, the Moscato Bianco (White Muscat) has been known since time immemorial, and is believed to have been brought to the island by the ancient Romans. Adapting for centuries to the different climate and soil, the vine grows characteristically different from that of its original counterpart on the mainland. Because of the different soil/micro-climate conditions, there are three different varieties of Muscat wines produced on the island: Moscato di Sardegna, Moscato di Cagliari and Moscato di Sorso-Sennori.

  Vernaccia di Oristano
  Vernaccia di Oristano

Already known in Roman times, this white grape got its name from the Latin "muscus", or "moss", because of its characteristic aroma, especially developed in the ripe fruits and aged wines. The fact that is found exclusively inland from Cagliari, gives basis to the theory that it was introduced on the island in ancient times from the southern port of Karalis. Of medium grape vigor and productivity, it expresses itself best in a warm, dry climate.

Currently it's cultivation is limited to just a few hectares in municipalities in the province of Cagliari, and is the base grape for the DOC Nasco di Cagliari. The wine is liqueur-like, golden-yellow, with delicate aromas reminiscent of Muscat and bitter almonds, medium structure and a pleasant bitter finish.

The origin of the Nuragus vine is lost in the past. Without doubt, it's one of the most ancient Sardinian vines, probably brought over by the Phoenicians when they founded the ancient settlement of Nora, whose ruins are found in the southern part of the Campidano flatland. In addition to the fact that the prefix "nur" has Phoenician roots, this theory is backed also by the geographic location of this vine, which is limited to the area inland from the ancient port. This vine is highly adaptable, quite resistant to bacterial illnesses and has good productivity, in fact, traditional alberello (small tree) vineyards can produce up to 100 q/hectare (about 4.5 tons/acre), whereas other vines in similar conditions rarely produce as much as 50 q/hectare (about 2.25 tons/acre). The high productivity is the main reason that, when replanting the vineyards decimated by the phylloxera, local vintners preferred this vine to the more delicate, though better quality, Semidano grape. The grape is used to produce the DOC Nuragus di Cagliari, which can be either sparkling or still. TIn other cases, the grape is harvested early and used as a base for making Spumante brut wines. In addition, the wine is used as either a base or blend for vermouth dessert wines.

Known also as Bianca Lucida (Bright White), Retagladu, Rechilliau o Retellau, in the different zones where it is grown, this vine is believed to be truly native of the island. It is a strong, highly productive vine that  performs better on dry, calcareous-clayey soil, with good sun exposure. Currently the grape is sparsely grown in Gallura, where it's used in blends with Vermentino and other local varieties to produce high quality wines. 

This grape has been on the island since time immemorial, and has been a favorite of the various invaders that dominated the islands at different times. The production was stabilized in the 19th Century, during the Regno Sardo (Sardinian Kingdom) ruled by the Piedmontese, at a time where all over Europe, many vineyards were destroyed by a terrible phylloxera epidemic. It is currently widely grown in various parts of the island and is used in various single vineyards DOC Semidano and Sardegna Semidano DOC.

Vernaccia di Oristano
It is believed that the name Vernaccia derives from the Latin vernaculus, which means "from the place", or "local". According to the most widespread theory, the vine was introduced by the Phoenicians who brought it over from the port town of Tharros. The Vernaccia di Oristano, not to be confused with the Tuscan Vernaccia di San Gimignano, is grown exclusively in Sardinia, in the river Tirso Valley, an area well known exactly for its cultivation. The DOC wine made with its grapes is yellow with golden and amber highlights, has high alcohol content, delicate perfume with notes of almond blossom, fine flavor, thin, warm, with slight, pleasant almond finish. The minimum alcohol content is 15.5% by volume and must be aged for at least two years in either chestnut or oak barrels. It is a typical end-of-meal wine.

To gain the Superiore qualification, the Vernaccia must be aged for at least three years and have over 15.5% alcohol content, while the Riserva must be aged for at least four years before release. It is also produced in the version liqueur-like, either sweet or dry, aged for at least two years and minimum alcohol content of 16.5% for the sweet variety and 18% for the dry variety. these are considered dessert or meditation wines. The winemaking is particularly interesting. The wine ages in partially empty barrels in rooms subjected to high thermal excursions.

Native Black Vines

  Bovale Sardo
  Bovale Sardo
  Carignano del Sulcis
  Carignano del Sulcis

Bovale Sardo
Similar in some ways to Corsican Mourvedre, Morastrell and Minustrello this vine, probably an evolution of Bovale Grande, or Bovale di Spagna, is also known as Bovaleddu. Is characterized by high productivity, good adaptation to different climates and environments, as well as medium resistance to bacterial attacks.

Used usually in blends with other local varieties, gives to the wines color, acidity and body. It is used in the Mandrolisai DOC wines produced in the provinces of Nuoro and Oristano, as well as in the Campidano di Terralba wines produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano.

Known also as Caddu in Bosa, Niedda Perda Sarda in Terralba, and Caddiu Nieddu in Oristano, this vine is found almost exclusively in the lower part of the Tirso Valley. It's a strong variety with medium yield, good resistance to cold winters and bacterial infections. The grapes are used as blend in making table wines, and used as table grapes as well because of its consistency and the size of the grapes.

Possibly of Spanish origin, this vine is found mostly in the Sassari area. Sometimes called Caldareddhu in Gallura, this grape is probably a clone of the Spanish Bovale, though, in many ways, is similar to the Mourvedre. It is widely grown in the municipality of Usini, but there are interesting cultivation in the municipalities of Ossi, Tissi, Uri, Ittiri, Sorso and Alghero as well. The grape is used to make table wine blends.

The origin of the Cannonau vine is not documented, but the enological community has agreed with the hypothesis that it was brought to Sardinia by the Spaniards at the time of their domination of the island.

Recent discoveries though, appears to squarely contradict this theory.

Whatever the roots, the Cannonau found in Sardinia the ideal environment, and the local vintners have planted it virtually all over the island, so much so, that it it accounts for the 20% of all vineyards in the region. The Cannonau grapes are used to make red and rosé wines with high alcohol content, its DOC zone covers the whole island and includes three sub-zones: Oliena (which encompasses the Oliena and Orgosolo municipalities in the province of Nuoro), Capo Ferrato (which includes the municipalities of Castiadas, Muravera, San Vito, Villaputzu and Villasimius, in the province of Cagliari), and Jerzu (which make up the Jerzu and Cardedu municipalities in the province of Nuoro.

Of uncertain origin, this vine is found almost exclusively in Gallura. According to some experts, the grape is native to the island, while according to others it was imported from the nearby Corsica island, where it is known as Bonifaccencu or Carcaghjolu Nero, or "black (vine) that produces a lot of grapes". Others still, believe that the vine is either a mutation of the Tuscan Vermentino Nero, or is derived from the Mourvedre Nero, or PortugueseBonvedro. This is a rustic, resistant vine that produces abundant grapes, thrives on soil with high silicon content, and produces deep ruby red wines, with red fruit aroma, good tannins, and low acidity.

Carignano del Sulcis
Once again, this is a vine of uncertain origin. The most agreed-upon theory is based on the analysis of its many dialectal monikers and has it introduced from the west, probably from the Spanish region of Aragon, from where it expanded with different names from southern France to the coastline of Algeria and Tunisia. In Sardinia, the vine found an ideal environment in the southwestern part of the island, thanks to its resistance to the salty sea winds. The grapes produce truly pleasant wines that pair excellently with a wide range of food.

For the Monica grape as well there are no documents related to its origin. Some believe that it might have been brought to the island by the Moors, but a wider crowd follow the theory that has it was introduced from Spain, cultivated at first in the Alghero area and subsequently in the rest of the island by the Camaldolesi monks. The second theory would explain the name of the grape (Monica, from the Italian "monaco", or "monk"). The grape is found in the whole island, though it shows different levels of quality according to nature of the soil and climate where it is grown. There are two DOC appellations for this variety: the Monica di Sardegna and the Monica di Cagliari. The main production area is encompassed between Cagliari, Iglesias and Oristano. Many believe that the Monica is the most representative among the Sardinian vines.

This grape produces deeply colored wines. Once again there is no certainty about the origin of this vine, though some believe that it is a specific biotype of the Carignano. The vine is sparsely cultivated in the zones of Cagliari, Nuoro and Oristano. It is used to produce the excellent Valle del Tirso IGT Nieddera Rosé by the Casa Vinicola Contini.

Selected Wineries

S.S. Arzachena – Sant'Antonio, Km 6
07021 Arzachena (Sassari)
Tel: 078980800 - 078980612

Partially responsible for the success of the Vermentino grape in Gallura, the winery took it upon itself to connect tradition with innovation. Wisely, the winery topped the quality production with great care for the estate image and marketing.
Label: Vermentino di Gallura Vigna ‘Ngena

Contini Attilio
Via Genova, 48/50
09072 Cabras (Oristano)
Tel: 0783/290806

To maintain the prestige acquired in recent year with the production of excellent wines from native grapes, such as Vernaccia and Nieddera, the estate has widened its wine portfolio.
Label: Nieddera Rosso

Argiolas SPA
Via Roma, 28
09040 Serdiana (Cagliari)
Tel: 070/740606

With the numerous prizes and recognitions won internationally, this excellent estate contributes enormously to promoting the Sardinian wines worldwide.

Sella e Mosca
I Piani
07041 Alghero
Tel: 079/997700
Fax: 079/790301

Label : Nuraghi Majore Isola dei Nuraghi Igt

Cantina Trexenta
Viale Piemonte,28
09040 Senorbi
Tel: 070/9808863
Fax: 070/9808113



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