Cannonau di Sardegno is actually Grenache grown on the Italian island of Sardinia. And anyone familiar with Southern Rhone wines would recognize the Grenache heritage immediately.
The color is a medium light brick color, much lighter than I expected for an 11-year-old wine. And the smells and flavors are also much more mature. Wild berries, red cherries and peppercorn. This wine has the intensity and focus of Grenache from low-yielding vineyards (as opposed to most of the Grenache from Australia, California and Spain). Warm and satisfying. This is very much like a good Chateauneuf du Pape, but one from the late 1980s rather than 2005.
As an interesting comparison, on the second night I tasted it side-by-side with a 2004 Cotes du Rhone from Domaine Sainte-Anne. The Cotes du Rhone is a year older but is several shades darker in color and tastes much younger with fresh, bold strawberry fruit flavors. This is not your run-of-the-mill Cotes du Rhone, though; Sainte-Anne ages well over many years. At this stage, the Cannonau is by far the more interesting wine. Five years from now, I'll probably prefer the Sainte Anne.
As a poor person's Chateauneuf, Cannonau di Sardegna is a good value at about $14 a bottle. But don't put it away for any longer than a decade.