Vigne Rada “Riviera” (Cannonau di Sardegna 2016) Red
Special Price: $146/6-pack (~$24/bottle)
You already know of our affinity for the wines of the Catalonia region of Spain, and you are certainly aware of our small but carefully selected set of Italian wines. With many apologies to Rudyard Kipling, the ‘twain has met’ with the cuvée “Riviera” from Vigne Rada, a tiny winery that is rapidly growing in stature in the town of Alghero on the northwest coast of Sardinia.
The grape variety that forms the plush and energetic character of “Riviera” is named Cannonau, although most people know it from it’s Spanish name Garnacha. Wine production in Sardinia can be traced back to eighth century BCE, but it was around the fourteenth century CE, when the Crown of Aragon ruled the island, that Sardinian wine got its Catalan tang.
Indeed, present day Alghero is steeped in Catalan influence in its architecture, cuisine, and local dialect. In this region particularly known to produce wines of distinction is where passionate winemaker Luigi “Gino” Bardino and his family built their small estate to harness fresh maritime breezes and poor, rocky soils and transform them into high-quality wine.
A banker by trade, Gino fled the stagnant office environment to devote his life to wine. After years of studying enology in his spare time he planted his own vineyards and established Vigne Rada. He chose only traditional grape varieties to the region, planting in two distinct terroirs: Monte Pedrosu, where the winery is located, features sandy and clayey alluvial soils with abundant riverbed stones and quartz, while the sloping Cubalciada site is home to clay, limestone, and some chalk. Farming is sustainable, by hand, and with help from the whole family.
The cuvée “Riviera” is 100% Cannonau fermented in stainless steel tank. 70% of the wine ages in stainless steel for 10 months, 30% ages in 225L and 500L oak tonneaux (no new oak) for three to four months and is then blended with the stainless steel until bottling one year after harvest. The result is a bright and pure island expression, with pretty aromatics of fresh-cut flowers, cherry candy, and dried coastal Mediterranean herbs. A sip is light on the palate yet filled with ripe fruit and a coiled, mineral finish perhaps not so surprisingly similar to many of the Corsican wines that we carry. Pour this on the patio with some lamb chops off the grill.
All prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)
~$22 “Stria” (Vermentino di Sardegna 2016) White
100% Vermentino with aromatics of crunchy yellow orchard fruits and fronds of fennel. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tank and the wine is then aged three to four months in stainless steel on fine lees with regularly stirring for a wine that is simultaneously dense and crisp.
~$31 “Arsenale” (Alghero Cagnulari 2015) Red
Although very much a Sardinian variety today, the Cagnulari vine was likely brought to the Island centuries ago by Catalan conquerors. Rich but not heavy with heady aromas of ripe fruit, mint, and grilled herbs a sip is both dense and juicy. Pair with a plump steak or huge, olive oil-soaked Cremini mushrooms off the grill. The wine ages in stainless steel tank for 12 months and then four to six months in 500L oak tonneaux (no new oak).
~$40 “3 Nodi” (Isola dei Nuraghi Passito Bianco 2016) White
The Maestrale wind that cuts through the ideally exposed vineyards of Monte Pedrosu allows the Vermentino grapes to dry naturally on the vines. Botrytis develops on grapes before drying and harvest in mid-October. The result is a sweet and aromatically complex dessert wine, ideal for pairing with fat and salty cheeses.