The island of Sardinia (Sardegna) sits off the west coast of central Italy, inside the Mediterranean sea. It’s about the same size as Sicily, but much further away from the Italian coastline; its physical separation often excludes it from talk of Italian wine.
However, its Mediterranean climate and hilly terrain make it a great place to plant grapes. About 85% of the island is covered by mountainous plateaus that feature granite and volcanic soil, creating sloped vineyards that can best soak up the sun. Helping the region’s reputation was the recent reduction in planting; slowly Sardinia is becoming known more for quality than quantity. Its best-known red grape is Cannonau, the Italian version of Grenache / Garnacha, and the most famous white is Vermentino. Granted, if you’re a casual wine drinker and/or not heavily into the Italian wine scene, you may have never heard of these two varieties — but trust me, if you see either in the US, chances are it will be worth trying.
After Cannonau and Vermentino, there is Monica. No, not the character from “Friends”, but the grape Monica. During Sardinia’s high-production days, Monica was an important grape, as it grew easily and produced consistent, if unspectacular, juice. The grape’s been dismissed as “undistinguished” by the highly respected wine authority Jancis Robinson, but at this point I’ll have to respectfully disagree, based in part on this wine, Argiolas Perdera.
Argiolas is a highly respected winery in Sardinia, and the one thing that I love about the estate is that they focus on indigenous grapes. You won’t see Argiolas jumping on the bandwagon and producing a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio simply because that is what the market is demanding. Rather, they stick to the tried and true, the traditional grapes of the region. At the same, while holding to tradition, they’ve also been innovative. For example, in the early 1970s, they were one of pioneers of reducing production in Sardinia, going as far as to pay farmer to NOT grow grapes. They’ve also made significant investments in technology through the years, and recently, hired Giacomo Tachis of Sassicaia fame to consult on their winemaking. (You may recall that Tachis also consulted on another Sardinian wine reviewed here, Santadi Grotta Rossa.) The result are wines that you may not have heard of, and have difficulty pronouncing, but would be remiss if you did not try them. In other words, if you see Argiolas on the label, it will be well worth your ducats.
Perdera is made from 90% Monica, 5% Carignano and 5% Bovale Sardo grapes grown in the Argiolas’ Perdera vineyard. 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. This is a full-flavored, robust red on the rustic side, at a nice price. Match it with grilled meats, beef/steak, pasta with meaty sauces, sausage, mushrooms, cheesy dishes, cheeses. An excellent value, and a cheap alternative to high-end Chianti or Super Tuscans.
a-7 t-7 b-8 fc-10 v-10 ~ 92 Points
Imported into the US by WineBow