Sardinia may be known to outsiders for its stunning rocky coves and inviting turquoise waters, but the Mediterranean coastline only tells part of the story. The island’s interior is just as beautiful and untouched, consisting of craggy mountainsides covered in wild flowers and shrubbery, far removed from the surrounding postcard-worthy blue waters. In their vineyards near the town of Perfugas, Carlo Deperu and his wife, Tatiana Holler, cultivate primarily Vermentino (under the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG) but also some red varieties from a fascinating, steep terroir that combines chalk, granite, limestone, and volcanic elements. Familia is a blend of organically farmed Cannonau with the local Muristellu grape, fermented naturally and aged in concrete and steel tanks. This inky black beast features aromas of violets, spice, and blackberry; loads of flesh on the midpalate; and a grippy tannin suavely wrapped in a cloak of generous, juicy fruit. It begs for grilled meats but also works well with roast octopus.
Carlo Deperu and his wife Tatiana Holler are crafting some of the most serious whites of the Mediterranean basin. The couple met in Milan, where Carlo earned his degree in viticulture and enology while Tatiana had come to study advertising from her native Brazil. In 2005, they returned to Carlo’s hometown of Perfugas, where his family had long made wine. The couple replanted the family vineyards and added new parcels, ultimately growing to 6 ha. Vermentino thrives here, giving full-bodied, mineral wines that rank among the Mediterranean’s most complex whites. The couple also produces a perfumed, chewy red from Cannonau and Muristellu. These wines are loaded with local character and brilliantly complement Mediterranean cuisine.
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.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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