This Vermentino-based blend hails from the noble terroir of Gallura, a complex mosaic of chalky, fossil-rich limestone and decomposed granite in the stark, windswept mountains of northern Sardinia. A field blend featuring other indigenous varieties such as Nasco, Malvasia, Moscato, and Arvesiniadu, Prama Dorada digs back deep into the island’s past, giving us an idea of what Sardinian whites might have resembled before modern enology introduced techniques like commercial yeast inoculation and sterile filtration. Full-bodied, fleshy, slightly cloudy, and packed with alluring scents of wild herbs and flowers, this saline beauty has a place alongside the great wines of Arena and Abbatucci among the most compelling whites of the Mediterranean.
Vigne Rada is a young estate founded by Gino Bardino, a former banker who quit his office job to follow his dream of making wine. Gino and his family built a modest winery and began to plant vineyards on the slopes outside their home of Alghero, a colorful city on Sardinia’s northwest coast still distinguished by the cultural influence of fourteenth-century Catalan colonists. The folks at Vigne Rada grow only varieties traditional to the area, including Cannonau (known elsewhere as Grenache), likely an import from that period of Catalan occupation. This elegant island red—gorgeously perfumed of sweet fruit with a mineral note akin to rain on hot asphalt—suggests the grape is perfectly adapted to the local terroir.
The village of Mamoiada lies in the heart of the Gennargentu, a mountain range far removed from the postcard-worthy rocky coves and turquoise waters that make up Sardinia’s spectacular coastline. This high above sea level, nighttime temperatures reach icy lows, creating a long and steady growing season for the small plots of stubby, twisted old Cannonau vines that dot the rustic landscape. Giovanni Montisci cultivates two hectares of vineyards in the granite soils here, which he farms organically (tilled by bull!) and tends like little gardens. Naturally fermented and bottled unfiltered, his 2016 “Barrosu”—a local word for someone who is brazen or bold—shows just what Mamoiadan Cannonau is capable of achieving. Imposing as its name suggests, this imperial red recalls wild strawberry, juniper, and Mediterranean scrubland. Lovers of Barolo and Châteauneuf—or the venerable wines of Quintarelli—will not want to miss it.