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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Super Sardinian


Agricola Punica is a sprawling 370 acre estate that lies in the southwestern region of Sardinia, splicing its land between the Barrua & Narcao sites. Admittedly, the only reason I sampled the Barrua was due to its high pedigree, as it is the brainchild of Sebastiano Roca of Sassicaia fame, the President of Catina Santadi Antonello Pilloni & under the technical supervision of Giacomo Tachis. Whatever the catalyst, I’m glad to have Barrua as part of my vinous consciousness.

Tachis found enough similitude from his origins at Bolgheri to jump into Sardinia waters & explore the virtues of old bush trained Carignano. As for Barrua, it is labeled under the I.G.T. of Isola dei Nuraghi, which makes allusion to the Neolithic stone towers that were erected by the Nuragic civilization, an archetype of the pre-Roman Sardinian landscape. The Barrua vineyard is a cross-section of 25 acres of old vine Carignano & 50 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and younger Carignano vines, planted to soils of clay and sand.

Intense Scirocco African winds are a thumbprint of the southwestern Sardinia climate, sprinting over the hot Sardinian sea like a southern Rhone mistral. The arid, sun-baked summers draw another parallel to the Rhone, which further elucidates the success of Cannonau (Grenache) in the island. The more I traipse through the tunnels of the island’s climatic data, the more I dig it.

Barrua is a blend of 85% Carignane, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Merlot. It represents the finest lots, unfined and unfiltered. The elevage is exacting, as the wine spends 18 months in a third of new, a third one year old & a third 2 year old Allier oak barriques. The wine retails in the high 30’s price range.

Agricola Punica Barrua, 2004
I loved the '03 vintage of this wine & the '04 version follows suit. This novel Sardinian blend represents the nexus between Sassicaia's Cabernet and the rugged garrigue of the Rhone valley. The perfume is redolent of warm, Cabernet Franc-like scents, with thyme, cedar, pepper and menthol essences seeping from the stem. Its richness of character translates to the palate, as a lacy entry drives spicy red currant and plum flavors along a finely textured frame. The symmetry & elegance are of Bordeaux text, yet a certain zesty freshness speaks in another volume, 94 points.

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