Like much of the architecture and cuisine around Alghero, on the northwestern coast of Sardinia, the Cagnulari grape that grows here is rooted in the four-hundred-year Catalan occupation of this region between the early 1300s and early 1700s. Called Graciano in Spain today, and still grown widely in that country, this grape is found nowhere else in Italy. Here, on this sliver of the island, Gino Bardino and his family have crafted a delicious example of the rare variety and named it after the city’s former arsenal, which is now the site of the Archaeology and Oriental Art Museums and Municipal Art Gallery. If you crossed the dark, dried fruit, and tobacco of appassimento-style wines of northern Italy with the density and notes of eucalyptus and garrigue of some southern Rho?ne reds, you might come close to this Sardinian beauty. This unique, brooding beast is thrilling to come back to again and again. Try it with a rich stew and a variety of roasted vegetables for a soulful, warming winter feast.
A banker by trade, Luigi “Gino” Bardino long entertained exiting the stagnant office environment and devoting his life to wine, his true passion. After years of studying enology in his spare time, Gino finally followed his heart’s desire and in 2012 Vigne Rada saw its first harvest. Gino chose only traditional grape varieties to the region, planting one hectare each year between two distinct terroirs. Farming is sustainable, by hand, with help from the whole family. Like the man behind them, the wines of Vigne Rada are honest and straightforward—the result of a skilled artisan’s genuine passion for his craft. They deliciously reflect the coastal beauty of Alghero, and we are thrilled to offer them for the first time in the U.S.
Our first foray into Sardegna is very recent, and it only took one trip to fall in love with the island, its culture, and its wines. Similar to its northerly neighbor, Corsica, there is a strong regional identity here that goes far beyond its official status as one of Italy’s twenty regions. Its people are proud, strong-willed, and deeply attached to their traditions—a distinctive character often seen with island people and accentuated by its long history of invasions and outside rule.
This tumultuous past has resulted in diverse influences—Greek, Roman, Aragonese, Catalan, and Ligurian, just to name a few—that have shaped the island’s culture, language, cuisine, and wines over many centuries. While Vermentino and Cannonau (aka Grenache) reign, Sardegna also boasts a number of indigenous grapes that are capable of expressing something unique in its abundant variety of terroirs.
The Mediterranean plays a major role, providing cooling, salty breezes to coastal areas, while the rugged, mountainous interior is home to high-altitude sites where wines retain freshness in spite of the southerly latitude. The granitic highlands of Gallura and Barbagia come to mind as some of its most qualitative zones, but a range of soils, elevations, and varying distance to the sea mean that the island is capable of producing wines in all styles, from crisp whites to powerful reds and exquisite vini dolci.
The three growers we represent bring something new to the table, something fascinating that is not found elsewhere in Italy or even in nearby Corsica. Their wines evoke the rustic beauty of this fascinating island civilization, and of course, pair perfectly with the local cuisine, be it seafood-based or the hearty, earthy specialties of its interior.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa