The wine highlight of our Sardegna trip was definitely the afternoon spent at the beautiful and newly-remodeled Cantine Argiolas. The Argiolas family has worked diligently to become the leaders in Sardinian wine making and insist on using only native Sardinian vines: Nuragus and Vermentino for white wines and Cannonau, Monica, Carignano and Bovale Sardo for reds.
The history of Argiolas began in 1918, when Francesco Argiolas planted his first vineyards. But it was not until Antonio Argiolas, took the helm of the winery that a new way of running the business began. A man of great enthusiasm and long experience in viticulture, Antonio purchased new properties with the aim of setting up a modern estate. He wrote, “A good wine comes not only from technique. It comes also from humility, passion, love and care for the vineyards and their products. I received this philosophy as a gift of nature, and I gave it to my sons and to anyone who has joined me in this extraordinary adventure.”
At the end of the 70’s, Antonio’s sons Franco and Giuseppe Argiolas gradually began reorganizing and modernizing all aspects of the business, from the techniques used in the vineyards to technological innovation in the cellars. More recently, they’ve hired Giacomo Tachis, one of Italy’s leading oenologists.
I’ve been a fan of their wines for a number of years, and could not pass up the chance to visit in person. They were incredibly gracious – even with much of the hospitality group in Verona for VinItalia, we were welcomed for a tasting of nearly all of their wines (as well as the olive oil they now produce).
Cerdeña: This is an outstanding white wine, made from Vermentino plus small quantities of other local grapes. The wine, which has the name of the island in the Catalan language, is obtained by a soft pressing of grape. Cerdeña is fermented (both alcoholic and malolactic) in cask and is aged in barrique for 6-8 months followed by 6-8 months in bottle. The wine shows a soft golden yellow color. The nose reveals intense aromas of pineapple, kiwi, lychee, and vanilla. There’s a long finish with flavors of hazelnut, kiwi, banana and vanilla.
Food pairing suggestions: Cheese! Also roasted fish, or maybe stuffed pasta.
Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi: Their most famed wine, Turriga, is produced with grapes harvested in the Turriga vineyard in the Selgias area. Only Sardinian grapes, Cannonau, Carignano, Bovale Sardo and Malvasia Nera, are used for this wine. Production of about 1 Kg per vine, (about 2.2 lbs.) allow the creation of this important and very interesting red wine. Must is macerated in skins for about 16-18 days and the aging is done in new French barriques (Tronçais and Allier) for about 18 months. Rich garnet in color, the Turriga offers notes of crushed blueberries, black cherries, bittersweet chocolate, tobacco, roasted coffee and Mediterranean herbs. On the palate, this hearty red is concentrated, yet refined and elegant, framed by ripe, firm tannins and is full-bodied with a velvety mouth-feel.
Food pairing suggestions: Roasted duck, goose, or beef.
Korem: Korem means “young girl” in the old language, and this wine is produced by the daughter of the family. It is a great wine, aged in barrique for 10-12 months followed by 6 months more in bottle. Intense ruby red in color with a powerful, lingering and well balanced nose. On the palate, this wine is velvety, full, harmonious, warm and well rounded. Tastes of minerals, grilled herbs, dark jammy fruit and French oak in a rich, full-bodied frame. The finish is very long with flavors of black cherry, blackberry, plum and blackcurrant.
Food pairing suggestions: First courses with meat-based sauces, spit-roasted suckling pig, grilled red meat, roast lamb, myrtle-flavoured hen, Sardinian sausage, mature Sardinian pecorino cheese.
Perdera: A excellent value, Perdera is made from 90% Monica, 5% Carignano and 5% Bovale Sardo grapes grown in the Argiolas’ Perdera vineyard. Malolactic fermentation in cement glass-lined tanks and development in small oak casks for 8-10 months. The nose exudes deep, ripe black and red berry fruits — blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry — as well as notes of earth and menthol. On the palate, it is earthy upfront, with black fruits following, and mellows into ripe blackberry and blackcurrant flavors. It gets fuller and more complex as it sits in the glass. Medium to high acidity and equally medium ripe tannins make it well structured and well balanced.
Food pairing suggestions: Grilled lamb, pasta with meaty sauces, mushrooms, cheese.