Wine of the week… Top Sardinian drop under $40

2014 Montessu Isole dei Nuraghi $40 to $45

It may not sound like objective wine writing, but here goes: I love this wine.

It’s a total head turner, a delicious drink and it says far more about Italy’s earthy charms than it does about Cabernet’s usually astringent ones. And that’s why I like it so much because its earthy, spicy notes and nicely integrated background of fruit makes it far more complex, to me, than so many of the fruit bombs that dominate  red wine production right now. 

This top drop combines the heady charms of Cabernets Franc, Sauvignon and Syrah with the hedonistic ones of the big black Carignano grape. Meet Montessu – also known as Baby Sass’ – which is a quirky Sardinian red wine from a collaboration that includes the makers of the famous and unconventional Tuscan red, Sassicaia.

Montessu speaks more about Italy than it does of its makers’ unconventional blend of beautiful big red grapes. It’s a winning wine from an unlikely corner of the Earth, which is all about savouriness, earthy flavours and clean, complex aromas of spice, a note of pepper and dark, ripe fruit flavours. It’s dry, full bodied, dark in style and long on flavour. A lovely drink now – in a large glass since it begs to be decanted – and a wine that will come into its own in 4 to 5 years, possibly longer.

The stats…

Montessu is made from Carignano (60%), Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot; all 10%.

It’s made on the Isola dei Nuraghi (Sardinia) and qualifies as an IGT wine because it falls outside of any conventional Italian wine DOCGs on the island. Like Sassicaia, Montessu is made from non Italian wine grapes, using highly regarded French grapes instead. Montessu is made via a joint venture between the Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Group, Sardinian winery Cantina di Santadi, Santadi’s President Antonello Pilloni and the Tuscan consulting oenologist Giacomo Tachis, who first thought that Sardinia and Carignano might be a match made you know where when he visited the island in the 1980s. 

In 2002, Agripunica was formed to bring together Tuscany and Sardinia and to make a red wine that celebrated both places. The first wine was called Barrua and Montessu is the second label – it’s a pretty stellar red for a so-called second wine. The grapes are fermented between 25 and 30°C with regular pump overs to facilitate the solubilisation, malolactic fermentation to provide roundness to the wine and then 12 months of maturation in used French oak barrels.


Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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