Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Villa Solais Vermentino di Sardegna (2005)

In my quest to discover new grape varietals and new wine styles, I find myself on the island of Sardinia (Sardegna).  Researchers have determined that the cultivation of grapes -- and most likely, the production of wine -- goes back to 1,200 B.C.  Further research has determined that some of the oldest grapes in the world have been found in Sardinia.  Wine cultivation grew during ancient times, when the Phoencians established settlements along the coasts of the island.  However, it was not until the arrival of the Catalans (later the Spanish), that grape cultivation and wine production really developed. 

Sardinia has a couple of native grape varietals.  One of those native grapes is the Vermentino grape.  The Vermentino is a late ripening, white grape that can grow under some fairly adverse conditions.  One of the more prevalent wine styles produced with this grape is the Vermentino di Sardegna.  This wine style has its own a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) that covers the entire island of Sardinia.

The Villa Solais Vermentino di Sardegna is produced by a co-op called Cantina di Santade from grapes grown on the island's southwestern, coastal area.  In that region, the soil consists of clay and volcanic rocks.  The wine is produced with 70% Vermentino grapes and 30% Nuragus grapes (which is another native white grape).  The label states that, after being harvested, the grapes are soft pressed and fermented at 16 degrees Celsius, the left on the lees for an additional time to maintain the freshness of the aromas and provide a pleasing roundness on the palate.

I have to say that the aromas and the tastes of this wine were a little muted, probably due to the fact that I held on to this wine a little too long.  Six years is a very long time to hold on to a white wine and, over time, the aromas and tastes begin to mellow.  However, other reviews generally find the aromas and tastes that you would expect from a white wine, such as pear, apple and cantaloupe.  Minerality is another flavor, which is expected in light of soil where grapes are grown.  

The winemaker suggests that this wine could be served with seafood and white meat, such as chicken or turkey.  I served this wine with the Insalata dell'Aragosta or Sardinian lobster salad. 

I got this wine at VinoMatique, which used to be in Berea, Ohio. Unfortunately, that great store has closed its doors.  I would definitely consider buying this wine again, if only to try it sooner to get a better appreciation of the aromas and tastes in the wine. 

For more information about the history of wine in Sardinia, check out TLC Cooking.  For more about the Vermentino grape, check out Mario Batali's Babbo Restaurante's website.

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