Vermentino di Sardegna “Abidoru”
Vermentino di Sardegna is a wine DOC of Sardinia, introduced in February 1988. The increasing quality of Sardinian Vermentino production at that time was signalled by the arrival of this DOC, a full 15 years after most of its counterparts around the island. One can only assume that the improvements continued as the new millennium approached, because, in 1996 the Vermentino di Gallura DOC was promoted to full DOCG status.
Vermentino di Sardegna is a regional DOC, much less origin-specific than its DOCG cousin. It covers Sardinia in its entirety, spanning the whole island from Sulcis and Cagliari in the south to Gallura in the north – a distance of approximately 175 miles (265km). It is one of several DOCs to have this broad catchment area: the others include Cannonau di Sardegna, Moscato di Sardegna and the Sardinian curiosities Monica di Sardegna and Sardegna Semidano.
As is clear from its title, Vermentino di Sardegna wine is made from the Vermentino grape variety, which is increasingly significant in Sardinian wine. Some ampelographers suggest the precise origins of Vermentino are more complex than they first seem – most wine students accept the grape at face value as being Italian, with particular focus on the north-west of the country, specifically Liguria. Further inspection reveals that the variety is also widely represented in the most southerly French regions of Provence and Languedoc Roussillon, where it has been known as Rolle for many centuries and is now sanctioned for use in AOC and IGP wines. Most significantly here, though, it is a key variety on the island of Corsica.
Corsica lies immediately north of Sardinia (the two are separated by the Strait of Bonifacio, just seven miles across), and the two have a great deal of mutual history. Prior to the Quaternary Period (the geological age we currently live in) the two were a single island, and today their regional flags bear the same emblem of a Moor’s head wearing a white bandana. The arrival of Vermentino in Sardinia, then, could be traced just as easily to southern France as northern Italy. There is also strong evidence that Vermentino is of Spanish origin, even if the variety is barely known there now. If this theory is accurate, then the variety would most likely have arrived via Alghero, which has had a succession of rulers of Spanish origins over the centuries.
Whatever the origins of Vermentino and however it arrived in Sardinia, today it is becoming one of the island’s most successful varieties and it may prove to be the wine with which Sardinia becomes associated in the future.
Sella & Mosca
In Italy and elsewhere in Europe, wine connoisseurs and industry professionals rate Sella & Mosca among Italy’s most outstanding wine estates. Sella & Mosca’s I Piani estate in Sardinia constitutes one of the largest contiguous vineyard in Italy and counts itself among the country’s most impressive wineries. Situated in the northwest corner of Sardinia, just inland from the pretty, historic port of Alghero, this 1,600-acre property with more than 1,200 acres of vines is one of the largest wine estates in Europe. Sella & Mosca, which celebrated its centennial in 1999, was founded by Messrs. Eriminio Sella and Edgardo Mosca, two Piedmontese gentlemen and adventure lovers. Today, the property is owned by Campari Group. As Sardinia’s foremost wine producer, Sella & Mosca is renowned for premium wines made exclusively from estate-grown grapes. In addition to native varieties such as Vermentino, Torbato and Cannonau, the winery has successfully pioneered the introduction of international grape varieties, notably Cabernet Sauvignon.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens and a profusion of flowering oleanders, the estate winery features multiple tasting rooms, an expertly designed enoteca and a fascinating exhibit showcasing replicas of archaeological finds unearthed on the estate and now housed in museums. Each year, especially during the summer months, the estate attracts visitors from all over Europe, who come to see this spectacular property for themselves. News of its intriguing wines has started to resonate with American lovers of fine Italian wines.