Sardinia's Answer to Sassicaia

Tenuta San Guido winemaker and Cantina Santadi release a joint-venture wine.


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This week, Dr. Sebastiano Rosa, winemaker at Tenuta San Guido, the Bolgheri winery that produces the legendary super Tuscan, Sassicaia, unveiled his newest creation. The 2002 Barrua Isola dei Nuraghi IGT is a bold red from Agricola Punica, a Sardinian property that Rosa owns with Cantina Santadi and other investors (those with smaller stakes in the endeavor include Tenuta San Guido, consulting enologist Giacomo Tachis, and Santadi president Antonello Pilloni). The partners purchased two estates near the town of Santadi in early 2001. What's surprising about its vineyards are that they contain no white winegrapes ("The idea was not to do the same things that Santadi was doing," like mastering Vermentino), and that Cannonau was pulled out in favor of Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cab Franc and Petit Verdot will follow in short order.

"We wanted to do [a project] together," Rosa said, the "we" being Rosa and his stepfather, Tenuta San Guido's Marchese Nicoló Incisa della Rochetta. "There was no point in making another super Tuscan—the real challenge for us was to go to a new region."

And in a new direction. Whereas San Guido's Sassicaia is Cabernet dominant and their second wine, Guidalberto, is equal parts Cab and Merlot, with a small amount of Sangiovese, the 2002 Barrua is 85 percent Carignan, with Cabernet and Merlot making up the balance. The wine sees 80 percent new oak, which Rosa said was "very strange for Tachis, and very strange for us" but helped them achieve the smooth, gentle feel that they were going for. Though fairly closed at its young age, the Barrua did show purple fruit and bramble flavors with air, with tannins that were both smooth and strong—bottle age should bring out more complexity. The venture's future plans? Just the Barrua through the 2004 vintage, with a second label coming online in the 2005 vintage.

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