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Sardinian wines and native vines of Sardinia

Sardinian wines and native vines of Sardinia

Sardinian wines are one of the reasons why our island is so well known. It is not difficult to understand why: the characteristics of the territory, the climate and the peculiarities of the grapes grown under the Sardinian sun and wind make the wine produced in this land a real treasure. Each area produces a product with its own characteristics, depending on the methods and places where the grapes are grown. Softer and more alcoholic wines if born from vines grown on clay, fresh and savoury if coming from sandy soils, high quality if born from calcareous-marly soils...

Sardinia has a century-old tradition precisely because of this heterogeneity and the truly rich variety of autochthonous vines. The island and wine have such a deep bond that the area cultivated with vines is now very large (more than 26000 hectares!) and the correlation between this drink and the longevity of the Sardinian people has been investigated for years.

But which are the typical Sardinian wines and which are the native vines?

If we think of Sardinia, the first Sardinian wines that come to mind are Cannonau and Vermentino. The first, the true Sardinian symbol, is a full-bodied and alcoholic red wine, perfect with traditional meat dishes; the second is enjoyed cold with aperitifs and seafood dishes. Few people know, however, about the many other grape varieties that make up the many excellent Sardinian wines.

vini e liquori sardi

What is a native grape variety?

A native grape variety is a variety of vine that is grown and propagated in the same historical area of origin. It is therefore a variety that has not been transplanted from other areas, but originates in the same area where it is grown to produce wine. Each native vine has certain distinctive characteristics in terms of the shape and size of the leaves, the berry and the bunch, but also with regard to the special features it gives to the wine.

In Sardinia there are as many as 150 native vines, 21 of which are listed in the National Register of Vine Varieties. These are:

Cannonau, indeed

We spoke about it a few lines ago and also in an article entirely dedicated to it. Cannonau is a vine variety that gives life to the wine of the same name, now defined as the elixir of long life. It is distinguished by its finesse in taste and flavour, which are different depending on the area where it is produced. Cannonau is a wine with a good structure and notes of flowers and red fruits; in the Riserva or Fortified types, the most famous Sardinian wine has warmer and spicier scents than ever.


Particularly typical of the south-west of Sardinia, Carignano is known for its resistance to sea winds, which has allowed it to be cultivated in this area, where it makes up 70% of the cultivated vines. Carignano fills glasses with a beautiful ruby red colour wine, fruity, warm and persistent. It is dry and savoury and is suitable for pairing with roasted red meat and mature cheeses.


The Bovale variety includes two distinct varieties: Sardinian Bovale and Bovale di Spagna (or big Bovale). The wine obtained from its grapes is a red wine with light garnet shades and notes of ripe fruit or jam. It is perfect with dishes dressed with long cooking sauces and roasted or stewed meats.


One of the oldest Sardinian vines, Monica is cultivated on a total area of 3000 hectares. Suitable for cultivation on calcareous soils in hilly areas, the wine obtained from it has a delicate taste and is warm and soft on the palate, with aromas of blackberry and cherry, red fruit jam and almond notes.


The Cagnulari is cultivated in a restricted area in the north-west of the Sassari province, usually on well sunny calcareous-clayey soils. It is often grown as a Sardinian sapling; its concentration of sugars and polyphenolic substances give the wine good structure and complexity. It stands out for its balsamic notes and the intense and elegant scents of wild berries. Perfect to pair with traditional local dishes: seasoned pecorino cheese, wild meat, snails, roasted capretto (baby goat).


Vermentino needs no introduction: it is a white wine that goes well with fish dishes such as seafood first courses, soups, risottos and baked fish, as well as traditional seafood starters. It has intense floral aromas reminiscent of aromatic herbs and a straw yellow colour with greenish or gold reflections. In Sardinia it is protected by two labels: the Protected Designation of Origin for Vermentino di Sardegna and the Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin for Vermentino di Gallura, the only Sardinian wine to bear this label.

 vini e liquori sardi pregiati


Vernaccia is particularly typical of the Oristano area, where it is cultivated and vinified using ancient techniques. It gives life to a long-lived, complex wine that is the perfect companion to typical Sardinian almond-based desserts. The oak or chestnut barrels in which it is refined are left to drain, so that the presence of oxygen favours the development of yeasts capable of creating the typical aroma of the wine.


Already known in Sardinia since the Roman times, the ripe Nasco grapes and the wine made from them have a characteristic musky aroma. The cultivation of this variety is limited to the Cagliari area; the wine made from it is fortified, golden yellow in colour, with aromas of bitter almonds and a slightly bitter finish.


 Nuragus is another white grape variety, which is mainly cultivated in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano, with 2000 hectares of vineyards. Introduced to Sardinia by the Phoenicians, it is known for its adaptability to all types of terrain. The wine obtained from this grape is straw-coloured, with notes of green apple and citrus fruits, fresh. It goes well with fresh cheeses, starters and soups.


Moscato is a very common grape variety in Sardinia, especially in areas well exposed to the sun and sea winds such as the hinterland of the Gulf of Cagliari and the hills of Romangia, but also in Gallura, where it is used in particular for the production of Moscato spumante. Moscato wine has floral aromas, candied fruit, caramelised almonds and sultanas; it is perfect with traditional sweets and candied citrus fruits.