Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Cannonau From Sardinia

Ambito 2007 Cannonau di SardegnaPinot noir is frequently described as a "difficult" grape. That makes sense — it's literally thin-skinned, fussy in the vineyard, and requires the right conditions (and guiding hand) to yield a wine that's simultaneously deep and graceful. Grenache is never described as difficult, but in its own way it strikes me as just that. Grenache may grow easily and be found at a variety of latitudes in warm climates around the world, but it too requires the right conditions (and guiding hand) to yield a wine that's simultaneously deep, graceful, and transparent. I mean, not everyone in the Rhône is Château Rayas, right?

Grenache — called garnacha in Spain and cannonau in Sardinia — is typically a juicy grape, and a lot of times this means the fruit will be very forward, plush, simple, and often blowsy. So it's often blended with other grapes to provide acidity, lift, depth, and additional interest. But as Rayas proves, grenache can have all these things on its own if all the conditions are right.

I'm not going to tell you that the $17 2007 Ambito Cannonau di Sardegna produced by the Cantina Sociale della Vernaccia has the depth or grace of a $100+ bottle of Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but I will tell you that this wine, as with the (only) other Sardinian cannonau I have tried, is plenty more transparent than your typical bottle of varietal grenache. Heck, I reckon that even noted grenache-hater Lyle Fass would appreciate this. Yep, it's juicy and imbued with dark, slightly-baked fruit, but it's neither plush nor blowsy. Instead, it's restrained by a strong undertow of juicy anise, bitter pith, wild herbs, and firm, dry earth. It'd be great if it was more structured, but it definitely features a nice slap of acidity.

My attempts to learn more about this wine have been frustrated. The producer's web site mentions nothing about the Ambito and US importer Selected Estates has zip on any of the producer's wines. So I've no idea how the grapes were raised or if this was aged in tank, concrete, and/or oak (although obviously not much of the latter, if any). What I can tell you is that it was terrific with a cashew and herb-laden pasta and I'm pretty sure it would be even better with lamb.


David McDuff said...

Hey Mike.

Co-op websites, when they exist at all, are notoriously and often purposely vague. If you haven't done so already, you might try contacting the importer directly to ask for more specific information.

Happy New Year,

Wicker Parker said...

Purposefully vague, eh? I didn't know that. I already checked the importer's web site to no avail, but your suggestion to contact the importer isn't a bad idea — maybe I'll drop 'em a line and ask somebody there to post a comment to provide more background. Heck, maybe I'll be more proactive about doing this for future posts.

Happy new year to you too!

Anonymous said...

If your looking for this wine, it's sold at Francesca's Fiore in Forest Park,Il. 708-771-3063