Sardinia is an island with an eventful past, to put it mildly. Its wines reflect that history: in the provenance of their grapes, and in their character, which is often surprising.
In the southwest of the island lies the Sulcis. This is not a town, nor a province, rather a zone that stretches over some 30 kilometres, from the inland town of Santadi towards the coast at Porto Pino and further westwards towards the peninsula of Sant’Antioco. In Porto Pino, you find the famous white sand dunes and beaches that appear in many a vacation guide. Going inland, however, all is quiet. That is where many of the Santadi soci (‘members’) grow their wines. Some of the vineyards however are situated near the sea side on an extremely meagre soil where phylloxera never got a chance; here we find vineyards older than 100 years, where up till 5 generations of winegrowers did nourish the same vines.
The countryside rises slowly, from sea level to Santadi at 135 metres. Immediately behind the town, however, high peaks reach for over a 1000 metres. That is how the hot Mediterranean climate is tempered, both by the sea and by the mountains. This is a land for strong red wines, and indeed you encounter some grapes that also fare well in Mediterranean southern France, like the Carignano (Carignan) and the Cannonau (Grenache), resulting in the Carignano del Sulcis DOC and the Cannonau di Sardegna DOC.
A local grape they employ, the Monica, is protected by the Monica di Sardegna DOC. Some Carignano del Sulcis wines from the Cantina Santadi are for ever price winners. For example, their Terre Brune (Carignano del Sulcis Riserva) wins year after year the top awards. In spite of the climate, also some local white grape varieties, like the Vermentino and the Nuragus, make for splendid Santadi wines. Finally, a fine and rare case is their Latinia, made from the local Nasco-grape, which in its sweetness and alcohol rather resembles a sherry.
In the words of Raffaele Cani, the Cantina Santadi owes its success to the man who, in the eighties of the last century, fell in love with Sardinia and its viticultural possibilities. Giacomo Tachis was the person who, even long after his official retirement, continued to look after the winery. It will be no surprise that today’s consulting winemaker, Umberto Trombelli, has been a student of Tachis.