All the facets of Cannonau: the first head to head

The Italian Championship of Grenache starts: after the presentation of the tournament, starts with the knockout with the first part of the head to head after the selection of the best 32 wines. There are surprises among the Sardinians Cannonau, the powerful Bordò and the amazing Grenaccia Ligurian:

1) The contenders: Tenute Soletta – Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva Keramos 2008, Bisson – Colline del Genovesato IGT Makallè 2009

The Keramos 2008 by Soletta is an interpretation of Cannonau balanced between a modernity that is never try-hard and a respect for the vines and for family traditions: rich, purplish, notes of black fruit, hints of dark tobacco, the palate is rich in pulp but also has an alcoholic breath that does not disturb and is supported by freshness and minerality. 

The Makallè by Bisson, a producer also famous for the Spumante Metodo Classico fined under seawater in baskets, is a Granaccia, a synonym for Cannonau from the Italian region of Liguria, a wine that despite the alcohol on the label and a slight surmaturation, combines  notes of citrus, of exotic and spiced wood to a unsuspected smoothness.

The comparison: face to face.

At the first smell, one suspects immediately that the second is not a Sardinian Cannonau: but there is no clear winner. The power of Keramos and maybe a "perfectionist" style only just beat (4-3) the smoothness and grace of Makallè. 

2) The contenders: Montisci –Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva Barrosu ’11, Meloni – Cannonau di Sardegna Le Sabbie Rosso 2010

Montisci is a young and small producer from Mamoiada that has managed to enhance its vineyard heritage (some of the vines are more than 80 years old) and the experience of the historic district, which has always safeguarded a wine production tradition that only in the last 10 years has become appreciated outside Sardinia. The Borrosu 2011 is powerful and velvety, still young but already capable of expressing itself, notes of maquis and lively tannin, compared to some previous versions it does not even suffer when barely opened.

Meloni is a big producer based in the province of Cagliari, the label is a medium complexity Sardinian Cannonau with a small share of Sirah and Sardinian Barbera, with a profile of smoothness and pleasantness, without exasperated search for concentration: the tannin lacks refinement, but the wine is enjoyable.

The comparison: face to face.

On paper the challenge should be difficult for  “Le Sabbie”, but obviously the great complexity and youth of Barrosu did not win over the palates of the panel: the result of 4-3 nonetheless certainly gives credit to Meloni's bottle.

3) The contenders: Bisson – Colline del Genovesato IGT Granaccia ’11, Meloni – Cannonau di Sardegna Terreforru 2011

Once again Bisson with a Granaccia ‘11 that impressed the panel during the selection stage: the wine shows great elegance and smoothness, starting with the smell rich in hints of red fruit and spicy notes, to then confirm citrus and bitter orange, with a great freshness that encourages one to drink-on.

Another selection also for Meloni that demonstrates a very high average quality, despite the large amount produced: the Terreforru 2011 (pure Cannonau) has excellent matter, with well resolved tannins, although one notices an excessive use of wood during the fining, possibly also due to the young age of the wine, which compromises the overall pleasantness.

The comparison: face to face.

Elegance and juiciness compared to matter and technique: this is how one could summarize the comparison. The result of the direct knockout was very close, once again 4-3, which certainly does not penalize the defeated.

4) The contenders: Oasi degli Angeli – Marche Rosso IGT Kupra 2010, Biovio – Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC GranacciaGigò 2012

Marco Casolanetti, soul and author of Oasi degli Angeli together with his wife Eleonora, can for good reasons be considered the discoverer of Bordò (the local name of Cannonau o Grenache) and Kupra is in some ways the prototype of this kind of wine from the Marche. The 2010 version was convincing during the selection stage, where it emerged as one of the leaders with a very fine fruity and floral profile(marasca cherry and withered rose), full bodied and intense that is followed by an overwhelming taste rich in substance and matter, balanced and with a dried fruit and sweet spice finish.

Again a Granaccia from Liguria, this time by BioVio, the 2012 version, very young, with a tannin that is still rampant, maybe too much, with hints of green and crunchy fruit and a refreshing and youthful flavour that divided the panel from the start, earning it nonetheless and quite deservedly a spot in the finals.

The comparison: face to face.

Granaccia verse Bordò: on paper the comparison between wine originating from upcoming areas seemed to leave no hope to the one from Liguria, which however stood up for itself and was voted by 2 members of the panel. But the predictions were respected and even assessment in hundredths find appropriate comparisons.

5) The contenders: Montisci – Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva Franzisca ’11, Trexenta –  Cannonau di Sardegna Conte Auda

This time it's the selection by Franzisca di Giovanni Montisci to achieve a unanimous assessment by the panel: the nose is sweet of flowers, summer maquis and myrtle berries; the sweetness of the mouth is replaced by an enveloping and rich flavour that never becomes excessive, in an admirable synthesis of power and elegance (the same elegance of Cassius Clay when he dealt a blow!).

The Cantina della Trexenta is a Sardinian cooperative that should be taken as an example: important numbers but always a careful eye on quality and on the re-evaluation of local varieties. The Cannonau Conte Auda is a selection based on Cannonau (90%) that after an initial reduction, displayed a pleasant nose despite being not very original with red fruits and spiciness; the tasting also revealed a correct approach, with a tannin that needs to be perfected and a medium-bodied structure.

The comparison: face to face.

The tasting of the Franzisca selection was overflowing, with a result that the position in the elimination phase and the centesimal evaluation predicted: a hands down win that must not sound as a failure for the Trexenta bottle, also in view of the following assessments....

6) The contenders: Gostolai - Cannonau di Sardegna Sonazzos’09, Sedilesu- Cannonau di Sardegna  Riserva BalluTundu 2010

Gostolai is the representative of one of the most traditional and oldest wine production areas of Sardinia: Oliena. The Sonnazzos 2009 selection sees Cannonau completed by a 10% of Bovale, a hint of volatile in the nose does not disturb, myrtle and aromatic herbs complete a broad and fascinating smell, but the best part is drinking, fresh and enthralling despite not lacking complexity, structure and alcohol contents. For the panel it ranks almost among the top ten by just a few tenths.

As mentioned, Mamoiada is also becoming a stronghold  of Sardinian wine-making tradition and undoubtedly a producer that is giving an important contribution to this tradition is Sedilesu. The Riserva Bullu Tundu is made from century-old vines, rich and balsamic although marked by a volatile just above the line, the mouth is rich, alcoholic despite a tannin that is not perfect penalizing the finale.

The comparison: face to face.

A challenge more uncertain than the premises predicted; in the end the panel only just preferred the richness and depth to elegance and flavour: 4-3 and a small regret for Sonazzos that ended its hopes with a convincing performance.

7) The contenders: Ferruccio Deiana – Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva Sileno 2010,Gabbas -  Cannonau di Sardegna Lillovè 20124

The producer Deiana is located in the Medio Campidano and over time has achieved success by valuing modern techniques and traditional varieties. The Riserva Sileno is the company's top brand and is confirmed here (among the top ten) with an original olfactory profile, broad and captivating, walnut husk, dark spices, balsamic, the mouth is rich, with an important body and a consistent alcohol breath: perhaps close to a model of modern, but well performed Cannonau.

We move to Barbagia with Gabbas and its Lillovè that, despite dividing the members of the panel, passes the most important selections: still crunchy black fruits, dark hints of walnut husks and great freshness accompany a medium body and a premature balance.

The comparison: face to face.

Here once again the comparison is between a light and heavy weight, at least as far as concentration and structure research, with an outcome that is not predictable. The panel only just assigned the victory (hundredths of point) to the outsider probably because in the direct comparison they judge smoothness and lightness more that power and concentration.

8) The contenders: Sedilesu – Cannonau di Sardegna S’Annada 2011,Cantina di Oliena –Cannonau di Sardegna  Nepente di Oliena 20114

Again Sedilesu, this time with a vintage selection, as the name suggests; great value for money ratio for a convincing bottle, which however is not homogenous between different bottles. The scent reveals notes of volatile acidity, to then clean again and steer towards citrusy and maquis notes; the mouth is smooth, fresh and young, a wine that does not seek and give great complexity but to be enjoyed at the table.

The  Cantina di Oliena presents on the label the denomination Nepente di Oliena  which achieved great success during the selection stages. It's a simple wine that however is never banal, with blood orange and oriental spice notes, fresh and with a rhythmic smoothness that gives great satisfaction and was appreciated by all panel members.

The comparison: face to face.

In the coupling the wine challenge between  Mamoiada –Oliena surfaced again, with an uncertain result on paper, with the Nepente overcoming its rival, but confirming the balance and correctness of the selection stage, but also a dose of uncertainty in the direct knockouts.

(Author: Stefano Ronconi)

Tags: cannonau / red wine / bordò / grenache / wine / italy /

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