Contini Vernaccia di Oristano 2003
Hailed for centuries as a Mediterranean vine-growing paradise, multiple cultures over many centuries have ruled the large island of Sardinia. Set in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Phonoecians, Ancient Rome, and subsequently the Byzantines, Arabs and Catalans have all staked a claim on the island at some point in history. Along the way, these inhabitants transported many of their homeland’s prized vines and today Sardinia’s modern-day indigenous grape varieties claim multiple origins. Sardinia’s most important red grapes—namely Cannonau (a synonym for Grenache) and Carignan—are actually of Spanish origin.
Vermentino, a prolific Mediterranean variety, is the island’s star white. Vermentino has a stronghold the Languedoc region of France as well as Italy’s western and coastal regions, namely Liguria (where it is called Pigato), Piedmont (where it is called Favorita) and in Tuscany, where it goes by the name, Vermentino. The best Vermentino, in arguably all of the Mediterranean, grows in Sardinia's northeastern region of Gallura where its vines struggle to dig roots deep down into north-facing slopes of granitic soils. These Vermentino vines produce highly aromatic, full and concentrated whites of unparalleled balance.
Today aside from its dedication to viticulture, Sardinia remains committed to maintaining its natural farmlands, bucolic plains of grazing sheep and perhaps most of all, its sandy, sunny, Mediterranean beaches.
Vernaccia's intricate history has roots in San Gimignano, whose main village’s quaint restaurants and steep pedestrian-only cobblestone streets make it as romantic—if not more—as any other Tuscan village. The idyllic countryside upon which this vine grows was actually named Italy’s first DOC in 1966. The 13th century marks its first written record and the grape was celebrated widely in literature, for example in poems by Dante and Franseco Redi.
Sapid with a mineral persistence, Vernaccia also offers up generous amounts of white peach and melon. It has lovely floral qualities, plenty of verve on the palate and often a fresh note of green almond. Vernaccia goes with so many dishes including cooked or raw fish, puff pastry appetizers and hard-to-pair vegetables like asparagus and artichoke.