A new Sassicaia from carignan?
Agricola Punica is a new vineyard in Sardinia with close ties to the legendary Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia) in Tuscany. In Sardinia they make two wines, “entry level” Montessu and the more ambitious Barrua . Winemaker Sebastiano Rosa was in Stockholm to present his wines. BKWine’s Roland Eriksson reports .
It was a dazzlingly beautiful late summer day when the winemaker and oenologist Sebastiano Rosa first visited Stockholm and the view from the Royal Room at the Gondolen Restaurant was awe-inspiring! Imagine what a beautiful city we live in (but please abolish winter!).
Sebastiano is best known for his involvement in the family estate Tenuta San Guido in Bolgheri producing Sassicaia. Sassicaia is one of Italy’s most famous wines. It was originally produced as a family wine by Sebastiano’s grandfather back in 1948 before it was launched to the market as a vino da tavola (= ” simple” table wine) in 1968.
The father of Italian wine
Like so many other wine producers they seek challenges outside the home region and in this case the target became Sardinia, an island known for rustic and coarse wines without much note. The true advocate for this was a man called “the father of Italian wine” Giacomo Tachis, who helped bring on the Italian wine renaissance during the 1970s and 80s with clonal selection , high planting density , low yields , refined malolactic fermentation and careful aging in barrels, things that are a given in today’s top wines.
As a young man, he began work on making Sassicaia successful and he had primary responsibility for the vinification there until he retired at the age of 77 in 2010!
But Tachis is best known for taking cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux grapes to Italy where they first began to be used in the original so-called Super Tuscans such as Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Solaia.
But back to Sardinia.
Giacomo believes that carignano grape variety can produce great wines in Sardinia ! Especially if you blend it with some French grapes.
So they started Agricola Punica 2002 as a joint project between Sebastiano Rosa (40%), the Sardinian cooperative winery Cantina di Santadi (40%), Tenuta San Guido (10%), Santadis Chairman Antonello Pilloni (5%) and Giacomo Tachis (5%).
Southwest Sardinia has a warm calm climate with mild winters and hot dry summers. The vintage variations are small and proximity to the ocean provides some much needed cool. The soil is actually similar to that of Sassicaia in Bolgheri with brown sandy soil with some clay and limestone. They own the Barrua vineyards (30 hectares) and Narcao (100 ha). Both are located near Santadi in Sulcis Meridonale. They will plant another 60 hectares for which 40 hectares of land have already been found.
Two wines: Montessu and Barrua
Agricola Punica makes two different wines: Montessu and Barrua. Montessu is made from 60% carignano, 10% syrah, 10% cabernet franc and 10% merlot. Yields are 6000 litres / ha (60 hl / ha) . The wine is aged around 12 months in used French oak barrels. Approximately 180,000 bottles are produced annually.
Top wine is named Barrua. It is made from 85% carignano, 10% cabernet sauvignon and 5% merlot . Yields are 4000 litres / ha (40 hl / ha). The wine is aged around 18 months in French oak barrels, half of which new. Approximately 120,000 bottles are produced annually.
But let us give the word to Sebastiano himself so that he can tell us a bit about their wines:
—I first of all want to make balanced wines that appeal to wine drinker. It must be pleasant to drink both young and mature and must not be too tannic or too much oaky. They can make “wood juice” in California if they want!
—The thing I dislike the most is half- drunk glasses left on the table. Then the winemaker has almost always failed to make the wine good enough!
—When we discovered Sardinia’s potential, we had a great hopes to make as good wines as in Bolgheri.
The thing I dislike the most is half- drunk glasses left on the table.
It made me ask Sebastiano after the tasting if he thought that this wine will be the next Sassicaia?
—Well, hard to say. But we are, after all, the same family. Agricola Punica is a fairly young company with great skills and potential, so we will hope for the best in the future.
Montessu 2011 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Pink – violet
Nose: Young, medium body, red fruits and spicy.
Taste: Soft, medium-bodied and some berries, red fruit with some sweet cherries and light tannins. Good now but can keep a few years.
Montessu 2010 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Pink – violet
Nose: Young, quite full bodied, nice, with red fruits
Taste: Medium-bodied, quite soft, with more pronounced red fruit than in the 2011, tighter and slightly more tannins (a cool year).
Five vintages Barrua
Barrua 2010 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Dark red – violet
Nose: Young , medium , dark fruity with wild raspberries and cherries and a hint of caramel .
Taste: Quite full-bodied, soft, dark fruits, with some herbs and silky tannins with a hint of barrel character.
Barrua 2009 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Dark red – violet
Nose: Medium , dark fruits, a bit closed , some herbs and red currant
Taste: Quite full-bodied, slightly soft, berries, cherry, a hint of alcohol and some astringency.
Barrua 2008 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Dark Red
Nose: Medium , dark fruity, cherry , black currant
Taste: Full-bodied, dark fruits, soft and balanced, dark berries , currants, a little jammy and a hint of vanilla in the aftertaste.
Barrua 2006 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Dark Red
Nose: Large, quite intense, quite ripe dark fruits, black currant, some mature notes, a hint of smokiness
Taste: Full-bodied, powerful, dark fruits, slightly burnt, charcuterie and animal notes, the most mature wine.
Barrua 2005 ( IGT Isola dei Nuraghi )
Colour: Dark red
Nose: Big, quite ripe , dark fruits, flowery and toffee
Taste : Rich, quite ripe dark berries, cherry, spearmint , tannins and fairly long aftertaste.
A new Sassicaia?
A very nice tasting and fine wines, perfectly ok to drink young but the Barrua wines clearly benefit from 6-8 years of aging and can keep up to 12-15 years in a good cellar.
Could it be the next Sassicaia? Obviously I cannot answer, it is a long way to go. But we can still wish them good luck!
The wines are imported to Sweden by Vingruppen / VinUnic, who also arranged and invited us to this tasting.
Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.
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