Showing posts with label Sardinia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sardinia. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A Fantastic White Wine From Sardinia

The Sella & Mosca estate - I Piani - holds some 1,200 acres of vines, reportedly the second largest contiguous vineyard in all of Italy. The scenery is beautiful but the climate is hot and dry on the island of Sardinia, where the Torbato grapes for the 2018 Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche grow, in the Alghero Torbato DOC.

The Torbato grape is not indigenous to Italy. It traveled from Spain to France before being brought to Sardinia by the rulers of the day. It is a white grape - known in France's CĂ´tes du Roussillon as Tourbat - and is known for its smoky notes.

This wine was vinified by Giovanni Pinna in stainless steel tanks. Alcohol hits only 12.5% and it sells for a ridiculously low price of about $15. I got mine on sale at Eataly for a few dollars less.

This white wine has the color of light onion skin - a nice hue for a white which has been in the bottle for some five years. The nose is immediately familiar to me, even though I have never tasted this grape before. It smells like the white wines of the Midwest and northeastern U.S. There is a strong fruit aroma - apricot and Meyer lemon - and an even stronger mineral aspect. A little bit of melon brings what little sweetness I pick up. The palate shows a basket full of savory notes - lanolin, minerals, citric tartness, pepper, spice and sage. Acidity is fine - not too tingly but not too flat. The finish is lengthy and focused on the fruit. I am impressed. 

This wine paired magnificently, by the way, with the turmeric and lemon bowtie pasta I bought at Eataly. I mixed it with cabbage and onions in butter. So simple, so good. 

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Two Sardinian Vermentino Wines

A recent series of virtual wine tasting experiences took a host of wine writers on a trip through Italy, thanks to Gambero Rosso International.  The wine guide provided wines for the tasting to which they awarded the status of Tre Bicchieri, or three glasses, their highest honor.  Today, two fabulous Vermentino wines from the Italian isle of Sardinia.

Pala Vermentino di Sardegna Stellato 2019

The Sardinia Pala wine estate was founded in 1950.  Mario Pala is the third generation of the family to tend the vines, with the help of his wife Rita and the fourth generation of the family: Massimiliano, Elisabetta and Mariantonietta.

The Vermentino grapes for this wine were grown in a single 60-year-old vineyard.  The wine was fermented in steel and aged there for five months on the lees, the spent yeast cells.  This gives additional heft to the wine and a fuller mouthfeel.  Alcohol gets up to 14% abv and the wine sells for and average price of $18.

This Vermentino delivers what I love about the grape, especially those from Sardinia.  It is a smell that is more than simple salinity, it is the ocean.  With flowers floating on it.  The palate brings a savory smattering of citrus, along with a gentle acidity that lets us know that it is there without ripping a gash in our tongues.  Seafood time.

Surrau Vermentino di Gallura Superiore Sciala

Vigna Surrau is also located on the Italian island of Sardinia - Sardegna, if you prefer.  The isle is mainly mountainous, and the winery says there is plenty of unspoiled wilderness and forests of oak and cork trees.  

Their 2019 Vermentino di Gallura Superiore Sciala comes from Sardinia's jagged coastline, the part in the island's northeast corner, called Costa Smeralda - the Emerald Coast.  Gallura - which means "stony area" - is the first and only Sardinian DOCG.  The 100% Vermentino grapes were grown in that region's granitic soil.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the average price for a bottle is $24.

This wine has a floral nose, but that does not shortchange the minerality.  There is a good bit of lemon and salinity in the mix, too.  The palate shows the citrus and minerals strongest, with a very nice bit of acidity.  Extremely nice, actually.  I should have had some seafood with it, but it was cream of mushroom soup day at the house, with some rice on the side.  It paired quite well.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Red Blend From Sardinia

Today's wine comes from the Italian isle of Sardinia.  The 2015 Barrua Isola Dei Nuraghi  is made mainly from the Carignano grape (85%) with splashes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot thrown into the mix.  The grapes were grown on Sardinia's southwest corner, in the Sulcis and Iglesiente regions, the Barrua and Narcao vineyards.  Alcohol is a lofty 15% abv and the wine sells in the $40 range.  It is imported in the U.S. by Kobrand.

Carignano, is known in its native Spain as Carignane, a grape which the winery identifies as being known for its elegant and velvety tannins.  The 2015 vintage was reportedly a good season - there were only a few days of rain in late September which had no effect on the grapes. 

This Sardinian wine is extremely dark and smells of tart, red fruit and a strong herbal accent.  It really has a wonderful nose.  The palate comes on a bit riper, but not much.  The acidity is quite fresh and racy, while the tannins are firm enough, but do not get in the way.  Pair this wine with salami.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two Vermentinos

Wine made from the Vermentino grape is one of the more refreshing experiences in life.  Often a Vermentino wine will come from the Italian island of Sardegna - or Sardinia - but the grape is also cultivated elsewhere, like in France, California and Virginia.  Vermentino has been found through its DNA to be identical to the Pigato grape in Liguria and the Favoria in Piedmont.  

There are few true Italian grape varieties planted on Sardegna, and Vermentino is one of the few.  The grape varieties found on the island tend to be those with more of a tie to France or Spain - Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malvasia and Bobal are plentiful, as is Cannonau, a Grenache clone.

A new restaurant in Los Angeles - Gusto, on 3rd near the Beverly Center - specializes in homestyle Italian with wines to match.  Chef Victor Casanova says the place is designed as a "cool neighborhood joint with an informal vibe and intoxicating aromas," and he has succeeded in those efforts.

Gusto has a nice wine list, too.  It’s tidy and well-stocked with good Italian choices.  I had the Villa Solais Vermentino, from Sardegna, with my meal.  The golden color is lovely and the nose - rather than being all about the aromas of the ocean, also shows traces of wood and an herbal note that is intriguing.  The wine has a great acidity - great with food - but it also feels somewhat full and creamy in the mouth.  It’s $8 by the glass.

We had appetizers of tomatoes stuffed with burrata and fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese, followed by the roasted chicken and a side of rosemary potatoes.  The freshness of the food is simply amazing - Gusto instantly became our favorite Italian food in Los Angeles.

The Vermentino, unfortunately, did not hit the mark for Denise with the tomatoes - a little too much acidity in that mouthful - but it was excellent with squash, the chicken and the potatoes.

Some Vermentino was poured in Las Vegas, too, at the Terra Rosso restaurant at Red Rock Resort.  The Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Vermentino is part of the Antinori wine group.  It comes from the Guado al Tasso estate on the Tuscan coast .  The wine is vinified in stainless steel tanks.

The pale straw color tips me off to the fact that it might be a stainless steel wine, since wood usually imparts more of a golden shade in a white wine.  Smelling the wine offers that wonderful “oceanesque” salinity, but there’s also a nice presence of apricots here.  The acidity level is wonderful, and it feels vibrant in my mouth.

It would have been a better match with seafood, but it did alright with the late-night snack of arancini bolognese - fried, mozzarella-stuffed risotto.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010


Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino

There are some pretty good options from which to choose in Los Angeles when I want to take my Italian-heritage wife for a birthday-month lunch.  For this outing, I opted for one of our favorite spots, Il Buco on Robertson in Beverly Hills.
For one thing, they treat us like it's our birthday every time we dine there.  For another, the food's great.  Also, they have a pretty decent Italian wine list.  Okay, that last one was on my side of the checklist.  It still counts.  A shrimp salad for the lady, I'll have the chopped, and a glass of Vermentino.
Sella and Mosca is a pretty big deal on the isle of Sardegna - Sardinia, if you prefer.  Their property contains a 1,600-acre estate just inland about four miles.  Their La Cala Vermentino is one of the prizes of the island and is exactly what I look for in this special grape.
La Cala is named for a small cove on the edge of the estate, and it's a natural to pair with seafood thanks to the slight saltiness in the wine.  You can thank the Mediterranean Sea for that.
This 100% Vermentino white is a pale, greenish straw color in the glass.  It delivers a soft nose of grassy salt air and lemons.  There's an alcohol content of 11.5% abv, and it serves up a bracing palate of minerals and tart lemon zest with a nice acidity that lies just beneath the surface.  It's a really good buy at $8 a glass.
It paired well with the shrimp, but also fit nicely with my meatless salad.  It does something good with the garbanzo beans in the chop.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Santadi Vermentino 2008

Denise and I recently had lunch with our friend Guido at Sprazzo on Westwood Boulevard.  Well, that was the plan, anyway.  The wires got a little crossed, and when Guido didn't show in his usual timely manner, we started without him.  Guido arrived about the time we were getting up to leave, so we hung around and watched him eat a Caesar salad.   It worked out fine for me - I got to have lunch with my wife, visit with our pal, and have one of my favorite Italian grapes.

Vermentino is a specialty of the island of Sardegna, and Santadi is a winemaker's co-op there.  The wine is a beautiful golden color with a greenish tint.  It looks wonderful in the glass.  It smells great, too.  There's a floral scent that is laced with an overriding minerality, sort of like flowers that have been trod into some wet rocks.  Pears and melons are on the palate, but again it's the minerals you really notice.  The taste is almost salty or briny.  Perhaps that's only to be expected from grapes grown in Sardinia.  Their seafood staples are a natural match for this wine.  I had it with a salmon salad but would imagine it's even better with marinated calimari or scungilli.

If you've never tried a Vermentino with seafood, you really should do yourself a favor.  You'll be pleased.

Winemaker:  Cantina Santadi
Appellation:  Italy > Sardinia > Vermentino Di Sardinia
Vintage:  2008
Cost:  $11 per glass at Sprazzo
Acquisition disclaimer:  Purchased by the author