From the stony vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape comes great wines made primarily from grenache, some of which sell for hundreds of dollars and are fought over by collectors. From the wilds of Sardegna (Sardinia) comes great grenache that doesn’t cost fifteen dollars a bottle. While it doesn’t taste like the supercharged wines coming from Chateauneuf these days it certainly does remind of the wines from that region twenty years ago.
Proving itself year-in-and-year-out as a tremendous wine value is the Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva from Sella & Mosca and the 2004 vintage is no exception. Cannonau is the Italian name for grenache. Easily found for under $15 this is a great bargain and a quick look at WineZap showed some retailers under $10. If your reference point is grenache from Australia or new wave Spanish wines you won’t recognize this wine as a grenache. However, if traditionally styled wines are your thing you’ll love this wine for what it is not. It’s not purple, opaque, jammy or 15% alcohol. What it is, is graceful with with no small dose of complexity. Light ruby in color with a touch of garnet it is quite translucent as in good pinot noir. Leaning the glass over you can easily read through it. The nose is spicy and earthy with hints of leather, wild mushrooms, ripe plums and maybe, just maybe, a touch of brett. It hits the palate with a graceful lightness at first, but then firm tannins and warmth remind you it is indeed grenache. The finish is ripe and warm with a hint of prunes and closes with a tannic snap. While you can’t claim that this is a great wine, it is a very good wine and for the money a great deal.
Perhaps I like wines like this because they are so distinct. Wines made in traditional ways just have a more individual personality. I can’t imagine this wine coming from anywhere but Sardegna. I like that.
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