Agricola Punica Samas 2016
An undertaking between world renowned names in the winemaking business, Agricola Punica is a joint venture between Dr. Sebastiano Rosa, Sardinian winery Cantina Sociale di Santadi, Tenuta San Guido, Santadi President Antonello Pilloni and legendary Tuscan consulting oenologist Giacomo Tachis. Sebastiano Rosa, oenologist and winemaker at Tenuta San Guido since 2000 and Santadi, the highly respected Sardinian cooperative, represent the majority ownership, with forty percent each. Tenuta San Guido, under the direction of Marchese Nicoló Incisa della Rocchetta, holds ten percent, with Giacomo Tachis and Santadi president Antonello Pilloni equally sharing the remaining ten percent. The ties among these entities are many. In collaboration with Mario Incisa della Rocchetta and his son Nicoló, Tachis was instrumental in the development of Sassicaia, the ground-breaking “Super Tuscan” wine produced at Tenuta San Guido since the 1960s. He continues to act as consultant with oenologist Sebastiano Rosa, Nicoló Incisa’s stepson, and will serve as the technical director for Agricola Punica.
Sardinia is an extraordinary land with thousands of years of unique history dating as far back as 6000 B.C. To look at much of the island today, particularly the Barbagia region in the island’s mountainous middle, one might feel as though one has stepped back in time. From the dusty roads to the tiny towns miles apart from one another to the 7,000 prehistoric stone towers known as Nuraghi (that date back 3,500 years) scattered all over the island, much of Sardinia remains “untouched”.
From the first time Tachis visited the island, he was convinced of Sardinia’s outstanding winemaking potential. In the mid 1980s, he began to consult for the Sardinian regional wine consortium and eventually, more specifically, for Cantina Sociale di Santadi. It was during this time he first began thinking about a joint venture. Dr. Rosa recounts, “It was Giacomo Tachis who turned us on to Sardinia and Carignano. He convinced us that we could make a great Carignano-based wine. We bought the estate in 2002 because we knew what the region is capable of. In fact, we’ve released our first vintage and we all agree, it’s going to be an amazing wine.”
Hailed for centuries as a Mediterranean vine-growing paradise, multiple cultures over many centuries have ruled the large island of Sardinia. Set in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Phonoecians, Ancient Rome, and subsequently the Byzantines, Arabs and Catalans have all staked a claim on the island at some point in history. Along the way, these inhabitants transported many of their homeland’s prized vines and today Sardinia’s modern-day indigenous grape varieties claim multiple origins. Sardinia’s most important red grapes—namely Cannonau (a synonym for Grenache) and Carignan—are actually of Spanish origin.
Vermentino, a prolific Mediterranean variety, is the island’s star white. Vermentino has a stronghold the Languedoc region of France as well as Italy’s western and coastal regions, namely Liguria (where it is called Pigato), Piedmont (where it is called Favorita) and in Tuscany, where it goes by the name, Vermentino. The best Vermentino, in arguably all of the Mediterranean, grows in Sardinia's northeastern region of Gallura where its vines struggle to dig roots deep down into north-facing slopes of granitic soils. These Vermentino vines produce highly aromatic, full and concentrated whites of unparalleled balance.
Today aside from its dedication to viticulture, Sardinia remains committed to maintaining its natural farmlands, bucolic plains of grazing sheep and perhaps most of all, its sandy, sunny, Mediterranean beaches.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.