The red grape Grenache is a mainstay of the Mediterranean wine world — from southern France and Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, to the Italian island of Sardinia, where it’s called Cannonau.
What unifies these areas is a climate that is hot and dry — conditions in which the variety thrives. A great introduction from Sardinia is Sella & Mosca’s 2017 Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva.
Sella & Mosca, with its 1,200 acres of vineyards, is the largest wine estate in Sardinia, the second largest in Italy, and one of the biggest in Europe. Although it grows other varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Vermentino, and Sauvignon Blanc, it is best known for its Cannonau.
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The 2017 Cannonau is fermented in stainless steel tanks and receives six months of barrel-aging. The oak influence, while present, doesn’t dominate. I have found that the grape can be beautifully expressive with only minimal oak aging and even without it. Conversely, too much oak can lead to wines that are unwieldy, and the grape is not unlike Pinot Noir in that regard.
The aromas and tastes in the Sella & Mosca suggest jammy raspberries, strawberries, and figs, with earth, white chocolate, and a hint of thyme in the background. Ample acidity keeps things fresh and makes this an excellent food wine.
Sella & Mosca’s 2017 Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva almost demands meat; we enjoyed it with grilled Porterhouse steaks. Lamb and pork are also natural pairings, as are burgers and pizza.
At around $15, it’s an unbeatable value for everyday drinking and, with complexity that over-delivers at this price, you’ll find it impressive for just about any occasion.