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Cannonau

Cannonau is the red wine that perhaps best represents Sardinia, but it cannot be stated with certainty that its grape variety is indigenous. Its origins are uncertain and could be Spanish. In fact, this grape is genetically the same as Alicante and Tocai Rosso and belongs to the same family as Grenache. Nevertheless, it has found its birthplace on the Italian island, and today covers as much as 20% of the entire vine-growing area, giving life to enological expressions of a full-bodied and structured character, traditionally produced in the Nuoro, Ogliastra and Cagliari areas. Thanks to its rich, concentrated aromatic profile and its warm, Mediterranean personality, it is now considered one of the island's enological symbols.

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Cannonau is the red wine that perhaps best represents Sardinia, but it cannot be stated with certainty that its grape variety is indigenous. Its origins are uncertain and could be Spanish. In fact, this grape is genetically the same as Alicante and Tocai Rosso and belongs to the same family as Grenache. Nevertheless, it has found its birthplace on the Italian island, and today covers as much as 20% of the entire vine-growing area, giving life to enological expressions of a full-bodied and structured character, traditionally produced in the Nuoro, Ogliastra and Cagliari areas. Thanks to its rich, concentrated aromatic profile and its warm, Mediterranean personality, it is now considered one of the island's enological symbols.

Grenache, Garnache, Alicante or Tocai Rosso?

For a long time, people have been trying to determine where this grape variety comes from, and it appears that its origins have been revealed in recent years. A study in 1990 showed that it is the same Spanish grape variety known as Garnacha, originally from Aragon, which then spread to France under the name Grenache or Alicante. Research in the early 1900s had already proven the link with Grenache, but it was not pursued or supported.

The question arises: why did Garnacha become Cannonau? To answer this question, we need to go back to the 13th century, when the Spaniards of Aragon, under the leadership of Peter IV, conquered the city of Alghero and settled in Sardinia. It is likely that the Spanish conqueror imported the most widespread vine in his territory, which then took the local name a few centuries later. In fact, in a public deed of the notary Bernardino Coni of Cagliari in 1549, the term 'Cannonao' appears for the first time. In the 18th century, its fame began to conquer the whole region and thanks to the work of the Savoys, it was also spread outside the island. This event explains why we can find Alicante in some areas of central Italy and how it arrived in the Iberian Hills under the name of Tocai Rosso: different names that identify the same vine.

Recent excavations, which began in 2002 in the town of Borore at the site of Duos Nuraghes, have brought to light something really interesting that seems to contradict previous hypotheses. In fact, in some fossils grape seeds dating back to around 1200 B.C. have been discovered, most probably belonging to the Sardinian Cannonau. This discovery has not only established the town of Borore as one of the oldest wine-producing towns, but has also given rise to the idea that the vine most probably originated on the island. A thousand-year history that continues to this day.



The Cannonau DOC

It originates from a vigorous vine that has spread through drought-prone soils, which explains how it has adapted wonderfully to low-humidity Mediterranean climates. The grapes accumulate a high sugar level, which allows them to develop a high alcohol potential. It is therefore often a warm wine, with non-invasive acidity and intense, complex aromas. In most cases it is very full-bodied, and the perfect companion to savoury main courses of the local cuisine: game (such as the typical Sardinian wild boar), mature cheeses, braised meats and grilled red meat.

Modern winemaking techniques can also offer younger, fruitier and fresher interpretations. These are contrasted by the Cannonau Riserva, aged in barrels for at least 6 months, with a warm, smooth and full-bodied profile and intense aromas of fruit preserves, wild spices, fruit preserved in alcohol, black pepper, herbs, Mediterranean scrub and toasted notes of coffee, cocoa, liquorice and other sweet spices.

The production regulations allow the term Classico if it is produced in the territories of Nuoro and Ogliastra, if it has an alcohol content of at least 13% and if it is aged for at least two years, 12 months of which in wooden barrels.

In order to bring out the best in Cannonau, the sommelier recommends serving the more evolved and aged versions in large wine glasses at a serving temperature of around 18°C. We recommend uncorking the bottle a few hours beforehand, possibly using a decanter to encourage proper oxygenation. The younger and more modern types can instead be served in medium-sized glasses at around 16°C and do not require oxygenation.

Would you like to discover the best Cannonau wines? On Callmewine you will find a vast selection of this type, complete with characteristics, sommelier advice, pairings and detailed information sheets. Discover all the wines on offer and buy Cannonau at unbeatable prices.