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.
The Vermintino grape varietal has been grown in northern Italy for centuries, but is perhaps most closely associated with the island of Corsica, where it is the most widely planted grape varietal and is one of the key flagship grapes on the island. Thought to have originated in Spain, the Vermentino grape quickly spread to other countries, and is now found in many parts of Mediterranean Europe and the New World. The grape itself is prized by wineries due to the crispness of its acids, and the wide bouquet of refreshing flavors it carries. Most commonly, Vermentino is known for holding flavors of green apple and lime, and for having a relatively light body with a low alcohol content. As such, it makes a perfect match for a wide range of foods, and is particularly popular when paired with shellfish.