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The Cannonau grape (a.k.a. Grenache) finds a grandiose expression in Mamoiada, in the heart of Sardinia’s mountainous interior. With a mere two hectares of vines and a radically artisanal approach to his craft, Giovanni Montisci has earned a cult-like following for his powerful and distinctive wines from organically farmed old vines grown at 650 meters elevation. The chilly nights here preserve freshness while favoring a deep, complex expression of Cannonau that ranks among the world’s finest Grenaches. Naturally fermented, aged in large casks, and bottled unfiltered, Giovanni’s 2016 “Barrosu”—a local word for someone who is brazen or bold—is imposing as its name suggests, recalling wild strawberry, juniper, and Mediterranean scrubland.
Sardinia may be surrounded by water, but in Mamoiada, the landscape is rugged and mountainous, with cold, harsh winters. The local cuisine reflects this, and specialties are from the land rather than the sea. The rich, powerful wines produced here perfectly complement this hearty, rustic, earthy cuisine. Featured dishes of the area include culurgiones—large ravioli stuffed with potatoes, pecorino, and wild herbs—as well as pastas with porcini mushrooms and wild game, which can be found in abundance. Giovanni’s cellar is dotted with hanging legs of prosciutto, to be sliced up and served during a tasting; the luckiest guests will have the fortune of enjoying his wife’s crispy, tender roast suckling pig—a match made in heaven with an exquisite Cannonau.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171