Isolation in mid-Mediterranean has made Sardinia the most idiosyncratic of Italian regions. The island’s vines tell a story of their own, frequently with a Spanish accent. The Mediterranean stalwarts are there in the various clones of Moscato and Malvasia, but several other varieties are unique in Italy, such as Girò, Cannonau, Nuragus, Monica, Semidano, Torbato and Vernaccia di Oristano...
Among DOC wines, whites prevail by nearly two to one over reds. The island’s most productive vineyard area is the Campidano. The varieties grown there, Girò, Malvasia, Monica, Moscato, Nasco and Nuragus, carry the name of Cagliari in their denominations.
The wooded slopes of the northern Gallura peninsula and the northwestern coastal area around Sassari and Alghero are noted for premium whites. Vermentino dominates the dry wines though the Torbato under Alghero DOC can be equally distinguished. Vermentino makes a white of winning style in the Gallura hills, though it can be produced throughout the region under the Sardinia DOC. Moscato can be either still or sparkling, but it is always sweet.
Still another refined sweet white is Semidano, which has a DOC for all of Sardinia, though it is most noted from the town of Mogoro.The most individual of Sardinian wines is Vernaccia di Oristano. From a vine of uncertain origin grown in the flat, sandy Tirso river basin around Oristano, it becomes a Sherry-like amber wine with a rich array of nuances in bouquet and flavor.The most popular white variety is Nuragus. It is the source of a modern dry white, clean and crisp, if rather bland in flavor.
The island’s important red varieties are Cannonau, a relative of the Granacha brought from Spain, and Carignano and Monica, also of Spanish origin. Cannonau and Monica can be dry or sweet, though trends favor the dry type. Cannonau also makes a fine sweet wine, which can be reminiscent of Port. A rising star among red wines is Carignano del Sulcis. A curiosity among the reds is the moderately sweet Girò di Cagliari. In addition to its 20 wines of DOC and DOCG, Sardinia has 16 IGTs, the most of any region.