Sardinia Wine

Guide To Sardinia Wine, Italy: Grapes Used, 10 Best Wines

by Hunter Robillard

Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean sea, is famous for its picturesque landscape, indigenous grape varieties, and unique styles of wine. 

It is one of Italy’s five autonomous regions that has produced distinctly “un-Italian” wines for the past few centuries. Today, the beautiful town is home to eclectic wine labels, ranging from rich, tannic reds to delicate, sweet whites.

This article explores the island’s scenic vineyard regions, dynamic terroir, and iconic grape varieties. We’ll also look at the ten exceptional Sardinia wines to buy in 2022 and the best food to pair with them.

Sardinia Wine Production Areas and Terroir 

Sardinia Wine Region

The region has 40,000 hectares of vineyard plots spread across the capital Cagliari, the Olbia plateaus, and the Costa Smeralda coastline. 

The prominent Sardinia vineyards and wine production zones are concentrated in the north, west, and south, with terroir influenced by the Mediterranean sea.

  • Northern coast: North Sardinia has a rocky terrain and limestone-rich soil with a maritime climate. It also houses Sardinia’s only DOCG commune – Vermentino di Gallura. 

The leading wineries here are Vigne Surrau, Capichera, Mura, and Masone Mannu.

  • Western coast: This region extends from Alghero and Bosa to Oristano. The Phoenicians brought wine grapes to Oristano in 800 B.C. Today these grapes are used in the making of the Vernaccia di Oristano DOC wine. 

Sella & Mosca is a notable winemaker of the Alghero province in this Italian region.

  • Southern coast: The hot, dry climate and the sandy soil make the south Sardinia coast ideal for resilient grape varieties like Carignano. The region’s prominent DOC commune, Carignano del Sulcis, is known for its red wine production.

Terre Brune is the area’s signature wine style. The top wineries of southern Sardinia are La Cantina di Santadi and Cantina Mesa.

Sardinia’s Iconic Grape Varieties

Sardinia is home to several unique grape varieties. These include:

1. Cannonau


Cannonau is the Italian name of the French Grenache or Spanish Garnacha grape variety. It is Sardinia’s most widely planted grape, accounting for about a third of all the varietals grown on the island.

The Cannonau wine is the island’s flagship red with a full body, and fruit and spice tasting notes.  Cannonau di Sardegna DOC is the leading producer of this wine.

2. Malvasia


Malvasia is a white grape grown in Sardinia, though it usually refers to a class of both red and white grape varieties. The grape is grown in the DOCs of Bosa and Cagliari and is used to craft dry and sweet wines. 

While Malvasia di Bosa is a dessert wine, Malvasia di Cagliari is dry with vibrant acidity and tropical fruit flavors.

3. Carignano


Carignano or Carignan is a red grape variety cultivated in Sulcis and Carbonia-Iglesias in south Sardinia. It produces full-bodied red and Rose wines with balanced acidity and berry flavors. 

Terre Brune is the primary Carignano red wine blend. The region’s Rose style is light with around 11% ABV.

4. Vermentino


Vermentino grapes are grown predominantly in Sardinia’s Gallura province. 

The vine plantations of this popular Sardinia white grape variety are grown on the north-facing slopes of Sardinia. Vermentino wine is crafted in both still and sparkling styles.

Vermentino di Gallura is the only DOCG-designated Sardinia wine, and Vermentino di Sardegna is the major DOC province that produces wines from these grapes.

5. Nuragus


Nuragus is a widely cultivated white grape grown in the Cagliari province. It is indigenous to Sardinia and produces dry, approachable wines, best served young at room temperature. 

Only a small proportion of Nuragus wine is exported to mainland Italy. 

6. Cagnulari


Cagnulari is a red grape variety (native to Spain) grown in the Usini region of Sardinia. Giovanni Cherchi, the pioneer of Sardinian viticulture, revived the ancient grape variety and made the wine quite popular.

It produces ruby-red wines with bold, fruity flavors.

7. Torbato


Torbato is an ancient white grape variety grown in Sardinia’s Aragon region. It produces full-bodied wines with a unique smoky aroma and white fruit notes.

8. Bovale


Bovale is a red grape variety grown throughout Sardinia, especially in the Mandrolisai region. The grape shares genetic characteristics with the wild grapevine and is known by 24 names in Sardinia. 

It produces a smooth medium-bodied wine with firm tannins.

Besides these signature varieties, Sardinia also produces small quantities of Bovale Sardo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Moscato, Giro, Monica, and Nasco.

10 Exceptional Sardinia Wines to Buy in 2022

Here are 10 excellent wine labels from Sardinia with their tasting notes and prices:

1. 1968 Silvio Carta Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva ($400)

1968 Silvio Carta Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva

This exquisite dry white wine displays a nutty aroma and citrus fruit tasting notes. This fine wine label from the Silvio Carta winery shows balanced acidity and a lingering finish.

2. 1997 Cantine Argiolas Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi Rosso IGT ($241)

1997 Cantine Argiolas Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi Rosso IGT

Here’s an excellent wine that boasts a black tea, red fruit, and dried spice bouquet in a layered palate of blackberry and ripe cherry flavor. The Sardinian wine has refined tannins and a long finish.

3. 1981 Sella & Mosca Anghelu Ruju Rosso Passito Alghero Riserva ($232)

1981 Sella & Mosca Anghelu Ruju Rosso Passito Alghero Riserva

This incredible Sardinian wine from the Sella Mosca winery opens with addictive dark chocolate, coffee, and oak scents offset by a charming flavor of honey, fig, and almond.

4. 2015 Capichera Santigaini Vermentino Isola dei Nuraghi IGT ($170)

2015 Capichera Santigaini Vermentino Isola dei Nuraghi IGT

The 2015 Vermentino wine presents spring flower, cedar, and stone fruit aromas balanced by a rounded almond, pear, and citrus palate. This white wine is full-bodied with vibrant acidity and refreshing mineral undertones.  

5. 2004 Tenute Dettori 'Dettori' Badde Nigolosu Rosso Romangia IGT ($118)

2004 Tenute Dettori 'Dettori' Badde Nigolosu Rosso Romangia IGT

Licorice, red currant, and coffee fragrances complement this label’s sweet, red fruit flavors. The fine wine boasts a lovely crispness, subtle minerality, and an incredible length. 

6. 2015 Giovanni Montisci Barrosu 'Riserva Franzisca' Cannonau di Sardegna ($99)

2015 Giovanni Montisci Barrosu 'Riserva Franzisca' Cannonau di Sardegna

Here’s a bold, Cannonau wine from the Giovanni Montisci Barrosu winery that opens with eucalyptus, pepper, and oregano scents. This red wine presents a luscious palate of raspberry and ripe cherry flavors. 

7. 2008 Pala 'Assoluto' Bianco Isola dei Nuraghi IGT ($68)

2008 Pala 'Assoluto' Bianco Isola dei Nuraghi IGT

This remarkable Sardinian wine presents honey, vanilla, and stone fruit aromas offset by ripe fruit and almond notes. Its sweetness and cloying mouthfeel are balanced by zippy acidity. 

8. 2015 Ferruccio Deiana Oirad Isola dei Nuraghi IGT ($61)

2015 Ferruccio Deiana Oirad Isola dei Nuraghi IGT

Here’s a white wine blend from the Ferruccio Deiana winery, made from overripe wine grapes grown near Costa Smeralda. It boasts potent honeysuckle aromas, oak, almond, chocolate notes, and a long finish.

9. 2017 Antonella Corda 'Ziru' Isola dei Nuraghi IGT ($57)

2017 Antonella Corda 'Ziru' Isola dei Nuraghi IGT

This dry white Sardinian wine offers peach, mineral aromas, and a delicious pineapple and passion fruit flavor profile. 

10. 2012 Agricola Punica Montessu Isola dei Nuraghi IGT ($41)

2012 Agricola Punica Montessu Isola dei Nuraghi IGT

Here’s a remarkable red blend with balanced acidity, truffle, cedar, and mushroom aromas in a tantalizing raspberry, cherry, and pepper palate.

Best Food to Pair with Sardinia Wine

Sardinia Wine with food

The red Sardinian wine labels are great companions to roast pork, chicken, and cured meats.

You can pair the island’s vibrant white wines with seafood, pastries, cheese, Fregola pasta, and desserts.

Sardinia Wine: The Versatile Italian Tipple 

Sardinia Wine Region

Sardinia’s distinctive grape varieties produce a diverse portfolio of red, white, and sparkling labels unique to the idyllic island. Several wineries also offer wine tasting tours for wine lovers hoping to indulge in the region’s signature wines.

While some Sardinian Cannonau blends can be aged for 5 to 10 years, most of these wines are best drunk young. 

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