Sardinians are great travellers, called from home by their status as an island people, their colonisation by different Mediterranean nations and their need to seek their fortunes elsewhere. If that’s a historical truth, it’s one which has taken on new meaning for the people of the Sulcis area in south-western Sardinia in recent times. Think of this as Sardinia’s Yorkshire (but with better weather), a coal-mining region where the coal mines have been shut by government decree. For the people of Sulcis, alternative employment came typically either through migration – it’s said that if you look in any Italian restaurant kitchen in London you’ll find at least one Sardinian working there – or through grape-growing. Local producer Santadi is a product of that process of reinvention, with the company’s dozens of growers producing wines prized throughout Italy for their suppleness and refinement.
They don’t tend to shout about it – Sardinians are often unassuming and, by Italian standards, even introverted – but these Carignano and Vermentino wines are suffused with distinctive character and a perfectly pitched combination of warmth and freshness. That’s because of the inherent quality of Santadi’s vineyards, but it also owes a debt to the involvement of legendary Antinori winemaker Giacomo Tachis, who was involved in the setting up of the business as a consultant.
The arenaceous terrain of Sulcis' coastline is unique in that pre-phylloxera rootstock survives and thrives: the finely textured, wind-swept sand naturally prevents phylloxera from depositing its eggs. This red grape, incidentally, can only be produced from the grafts ‘alberello’ vine (‘goblet’ or bush), which in turn can only be grown on sandy soils such as Cantina Santadi’s.
After stemming and crushing, the grapes are fermented and macerated for 12-14 days in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature of 25-28 °C. During this period, the must is frequently pumped up, thus fully absorbing the noble tannins typical of bush-grown carignano. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is transferred to small, fine grained 1st and 2nd-passage French oak casks for 10-12 months, to further develop its biochemical and chemical-physical properties, aroma and taste. Further aging in the bottle for several months enables early bouquet development.
This wine has a deep, almost solid ruby red colour. The aromas are intense, with fruity notes of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, myrtle, leather and liquorice. The palate is big and velvety, has great structure and a long aromatic finish. This is a full-bodied wine.
Santadi recommend that the Rocca Rubia goes well with red meats, wild boar, roast suckling pig and mature Pecorino cheese.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.