Panevino Isola dei Nuraghi Rosso Tankadeddu 2008
What do you say about a winemaker whose self-professed greatest influences are Bob Dylan and Jesus? Gianfranco is a rare soul in the wine business. He is an empath/winemaker. First, his love for the vines is so strong that he says he feels a particular relationship with each one. Furthermore, he thinks the vines tell him what to do with the grapes. He has been working these vines for a long time now, so I can imagine some deeper understanding of one’s vineyards comes through with that much time. Whether there is really a dialog happening is anyone’s guess. But as proof, Gianfranco has stylistically changed the wines from the cannonau grapes for the past 4 years. He has also changed their names to reflect the stylistic differences from year to year, always reflecting a personal point of view on the vintage through the new name. In 2005 the wine was called Perdacoddura and it was above 15.5%, a big, brawny wine. In 2006, the expression of the same wine was called Mariposa and at a little above 14% was the results of a search for the more elegant and seductive side to the grape. In 2007, a very good harvest, it is called ‘Ogu – which means 1. fuoco – fire 2. occhio – eye 3. occhio – bud and at 14.5% represents something more ideal for Gianfranco. It is wine born of fire (there was a raging wildfire that year that stopped literally at the next hill over from his vineyards and house) and it is through this wine which Gianfranco presents his vision and through which the world sees him.
Of course, minimal treatments (2 of Bordeaux mix) and plowing, no use of systemic treatments, herbicides or pesticides are tolerated at Panevino (we visited an estate in Bossa that was doing a treatment. After artfully haranging the owner for using these systemic treatments and offering to show him how to get along without them, sensitive Gianfranco became violently ill from the bad air). The vinifications are carried out on the natural yeasts of the vines and cellar culture. The wines are aged in 12 months in barrique of at least 3 years. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration. The wines are all certified organic by the AIAB, an Italian organic certification board.
In 2008 Gianfranco planted another 1.5 ha of cannonau from massale selection. In 2009, he had hoped to plant 2 more, but the weather was not being cooperative last we heard. I am pretty sure they finally were planted.
Gianfranco only rarely makes bread these days (mostly classes and demonstrations for children and young adults) but when he does, he must be very carefully with clothing and hygiene to keep the two cultures of yeast from intermingling.
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.
Full of color, ripe fruit, plenty of texture and earthy goodness, Mourvèdre is an important grape in many key regions in the south of France, as well as in Spain and the New World. Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance (there known as Monastrell or Mataro) and is the key variety in Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla. It truly thrives, however, in Provence’s Bandol region, where it shines on its own as a single varietal red and in Southern Rhône where it palys a major part in blends . It is also of great importance in the Southern Rhône alongside Grenache and Syrah—and in California and Australia, as a single varietal wine or in Rhône blends.
In the Glass
At their finest, Mourvèdre wines are robust and full of brambly red and black fruit, and aromas and flavors of herbs, leather, earth, dark chocolate and licorice. Well-aged examples can show an impressive degree of elegance and an attractive perfume. In blends with Grenache and Syrah, Mourvèdre provides fleshy texture, tannic structure and deep color.
This earthy Mediterranean variety loves rustic food—think cassoulet, wild boar ragu or smoky ribs. Mourvèdre’s tannins are bold but not bitter, lending both weight and texture.
Mourvèdre used to have significant plantings in California, but the vine lost popularity during the 20th century in favor of other varieties. However, in the 1980s, a group of California winemakers inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley have been working to bring the variety back into the spotlight. Plantings have since increased and Rhône blends are now a highly-regarded specialty of the Central Coast.