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Carignan is an ancient blue-skinned grape varietal, thought to be indigenous to the Aragon region of Spain. However, today it is most commonly associated with the fine wines of southern France, and has been grown in many countries around the world which have the warm and dry conditions it requires to thrive. Carignan is recognized as being quite a sensitive vine, highly susceptible to all kinds of rot and mildew, although producing excellent results when given the right conditions and handled correctly. Its high tannin levels and acidity make the Carignan grapes very astringent, and as such, they are often used as a blending grape to give body to other, lesser bodied varietals. Despite this, with careful treatment, Carignan can produce superb single varietal wines packed full of character and unique attributes.
The beautiful Mediterranean island of Sardinia is a haven for wine lovers, and viticulture is very much a part of the lifestyle of this special patch of land off the Italian coast. Indeed, Sardinia is renowned as being home to an impressive high number of centenarians, their longevity said to be a result of the amount of red wine they regularly drink. Although winemaking has only really taken off on Sardinia over the past couple of centuries, wines have been produced in Sardinia for well over two thousand years. Vines were originally cultivated by travelling settlers such as the Phoenicians and then boosted by the Roman empire, whose influence is still felt in the landscape today.
Sardinia may have been designated as one of Italy’s main wine regions in the mid 18th century, but its island status has long ensured that the winemakers here have their own identity and viticulture, of which they are very proud. Unlike other Italian wine regions, Sardinia is strongly influenced by French and Spanish viticulture, and it isn’t unusual to find fine wines from the island made from Garnacha or Cabernet Sauvignon, although Italian varietals such as Malvasia are also very popular. Sardinia has one DOCG appellation, Vermentino di Gallura, which produces beautifully elegant white wines made from the Vermentino grape which grows with great expression on the island.