From Super Tuscan to Super Sardinian

October 1, 2009

The Super Tuscan movement was considered heresy in its infancy. The thought of including international varieties of grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot into a red wine from Tuscany to coexist, or in some cases, actually replace the indigenous Sangiovese was unheard of.

Giacomo Tachis is a name synonymous with the beginning of this movement in Tuscany during the 1960’s. He has been associated with the birth of such famous wines as Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia, Antinori’s Solaia and Tignanello, and Argiano’s Solengo.

He “retired” in 2002. His focus has shifted from Tuscany to Italy’s southern islands of Sicily and Sardinia. I have written previously about his involvement in some of Sicily’s great wineries such as Donnafugata, Corvo, and Abazia Sant’Anastasia. His newest efforts that have caught my attention are based in Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean. This time his attention has focused on Carignano, a grape that is native to Spain. It thrives in a sunny, warm climate. This grape is similar to France’s Carignane that produces wonderful wine in its Languedoc-Roussillon region.

While previously working for Cantina Sociale di Santadi, he hinted to its owners that the Carignano grape would grow spectacularly in Sardinia, and vinified in the proper manner would make an equally excellent wine.

All those original thoughts came to fruition in 2002 when Agricola Punica was established as a joint venture between the Cantina Santadi and Sebastiano Rosa, the managing director of Tenuta San Guido. They bought a 370-acre estate in the southwest corner of Sardinia. Even though this area is affected by fierce scirocco African winds blowing across the Sardinian Sea, Tachis states, “the wonderful influence from the sea regulates the extreme heat and stabilizes the climate.”

My first taste of a wine from Punica leads me to believe that Tachis was 100% accurate. The 2005 Punica Montessu was an excellent wine with dark fruit aromas and a lingering elegant taste.a real treat for anyone searching for their first Super Sardinian.

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