Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Note on Cannonau di Sardinia

As a long-time fan of the Grenache-based wines, it embarrasses to admit that only yesterday did I buy my first bottle of Cannonau, the Italian version of Grenache. The bottle I purchased was the 2004 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna, I wine I had enjoyed a few months earlier from a restaurant wine list. The wine reminded me of a good Gigondas or Cairanne.

The Cannonau grape, I have learned, was brought to Sardinia from Spain in the 14th century, when the Spanish ruled the island. Ampelographers believe that it corresponds with the Canonazo of Seville and the Garnaxa of Aragon. One smell or taste will convince you that it is also a close relative of the Grenache of the Southern Rhone (as well as the Garnacha of Spain).

Cannonau is widely planted on Sardinia, but production remains low because of the traditional "alberello" pruning practices that limit yields. Low yields, of course, mean more concentrated flavors. I am sure that modernized practices are being introduced in Sardinia as they are elsewhere in the world, and they are always a mixed blessing. With newer pruning methods, Sardinian Cannonau wines are less alcoholic and more drinkable than they once were, I read. Are they also less concentrated, I wonder?

Cannonau di Sardinia is now on my radar. I am looking forward to trying the Sella & Mosca again and will have my eye out for other Cannonau di Sardinia wines.

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