Cannonau wine tasting Italy

Cannonau is the iconic wine from Sardinia where is the most grown red grape and cover the 30% of the whole wine production on the island. For a long time was believed that Cannonau coincides with Garnacha and that was introduced in Sardinia by the Spanish in the XV century during the Aragonese domain.

In 2002 ,during an archaeological excavation in Sardinia, were rediscovered ancients Cannonau grape seeds dating XIII century bc that disapproved the theory about the Spanish origin. As the Phoenicians arrived in the island not earlier than IX century bc (read more about the history of wine on our blog)  can be stated that Cannonau is more likely to be an indigenous variety of Sardinia and got to Spain only in later times.

The name Cannonau origins from the Sardinian slang “cannonare” which indicates the action of pumping up and punching down the sediment floating on the surface during the wine fermentation.

The first time Cannonau appeared as a vine in an official document was on 1549 when was mentioned by Bernardino Coni, a notary from Cagliari. After other witnesses of few writers during the XVII and XVIII century, a more detailed contribution comes in the XIX century when the priest Vittorio Angius illustrated the spread of viticulture in Sardinia confirming Cannonau as the most planted vine in the island.


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Cannonau Wine Tasting Italy

Cannonau is a mid-late ripening grape which adapts very well to poor soils and warm dry climate thus , this variety, found in Sardinia the perfect terroir.

In 1972 was created the appellation “Cannonau di Sardegna DOC” to regulate the viticulture of this grape in the island. (Read more about the regulations in Italy here) “Cannonau di Sardegna” can be produced without any geographical restrictions through the island and must contain at least 85% of Cannonau within a minimum abv of 12,5%. The wine can be labelled as “Riserva” if it ages at least 2 years which 6 months must be in oak.

Cannonau di Sardegna Classico” can be produced only in the district of Nuoro and Ogliastra within a maximum of 9 tonnes per hectare. The wine has to contain at least 90% of Cannonau; the minimum abv is 13% and it has to age no less than 2 years which 12 months must be in oak.

Cannonau gives full bodied wines with firm tannins and high alcohol. However, Sardinia benefits from constant cooling breeze from the sea and it is surrounded by the amazing Mediterranean scrub that provides the wines with authentic flavours. Therefore Cannonau on the nose displays aromas of ripe blueberries with notes of aromatic herbs and scent of balsamic. On the palate it is a warm silky feeling that wind up in the mouth along with a pleasant touch of coffee and liquorice well integrated by the gentle use of oak

In terms of food, Cannonau can be perfectly paired with “porceddu sardo” that is a regional speciality and consists of a roasted pig slow cooked on the spit. It has a very savoury and pungent taste that goes well with the balsamic and aromatic notes of Cannonau. The smokiness of the pork finds a beautiful match in the oaked fragrance of the wine and both blend nicely together in a long lasting after taste.

Nowadays in Sardinia there are 7.500 hectares in vineyards farmed by Cannonau that represents, among the inhabitants , the wine to drink at any time with anything or nothing else.

Cannonau is so widely consumed by the Sardinian people that it is considered to be one of the reasons why there are many centenarians in the island. A teacher of  Sassari university has been doing  a research for 16 years about 3000 Sardinian centenarians and resulted that 93% of the men, as well as 63% of the women, drink 2 daily glasses of Cannonau. Moreover the reputable American doctor Mehmet Oz stated that, thanks to the higher proportion of antioxidants (10 times than other vines), Cannonau is very good for the health and is the secret why Sardinians are between the most longeval people in the world.

Cannonau within more than 3000 years of history is not only an indigenous grape from Sardinia but probably one of the oldest wine of the Mediterranean. A very intense wine, good for health, one of the oldest…: there are many reasons why you will be probably going to try Cannonau but, if you do, surely you will be looking for it again.

Author: Riccardo Pepi

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History of wine

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