Sardinia is known for producing high quality wines, both red and white, using mainly indigenous grape varieties, that is, native to the region.
Sardinia has a hot and dry Mediterranean climate, with long, sunny summers and mild winters. Climatic conditions are ideal for the production of white wines, particularly for grape varieties that require abundant sunlight to fully ripen. The region also has a wide variety of soils, from limestone soils to granite formations, which provide an ideal base for growing many types of grapes.Sardinian white wines are often characterized by hints of citrus, flowers and spices, and can have a light or fuller structure, depending on the grape variety used and the method of production.
The most common grape varieties used to produce Sardinian white wines are Vermentino, Nuragus, Semidano, Moscato, Torbato, Nasco, and Vernaccia.
Vermentino is a white grape variety native to Sardinia that produces wines with aromas of citrus, flowers and herbs, and a light, fresh structure. Wines made from Vermentino are often characterized by a light straw yellow color and a dry, mineral taste. Vermentino is grown in all wine-growing areas of Sardinia.
Wines made from white Nuragus grapes, a grape variety introduced by Phoenician navigators probably through the city of Nora and among the most widely cultivated in Sardinia, give medium-alcohol wines of delicate straw color, with notes of white flowers, green apple and citrus fruits, savory and fresh on the palate. Its popularity is due to its rusticity, adaptability to different types of soil and productive generosity.
Torbato is a white grape variety that produces wines with hints of exotic fruit and spice, and a fuller, more structured texture. Muscat is a white grape variety that produces sweet, aromatic wines with hints of flowers and ripe fruit.
The wines produced from the pure vinification of Semidano grapes are of great finesse, with a bright golden straw color, floral and fruity scents. Semidano was once widespread in Sardinia, but suffered a significant reduction in area due to phylloxera invasion in the late 1800s. When replanting the new vineyards, more productive and disease-resistant grape varieties, such as Nuragus, were preferred. At present, this grape variety is grown only in a small area of Campidano di Oristano, on clay-limestone soils of medium hilly consistency.
Wines made from Moscato di Sardegna grapes have intense aromas and flavors of fruit, honey, almonds, figs, apricot jam and cooked must. It is very sweet, warm and soft on the palate. Moscato is a grape variety of ancient origin, present in Sardinia since Roman times, who called it vitis apiana because it was the bees' favorite grape for its sweetness. The word Muscat may derive from its attraction to flies because of its high sugar concentration. It is found in most Mediterranean wine-growing areas, but in Sardinia it is mainly grown in the limestone and sunny areas of lower Campidano and Romangia, as well as on the granite soils of Gallura.
Nasco is a grape variety cultivated in Sardinia since ancient times. It is rare and fine, and is mainly cultivated in the sunny, calcareous soils of the hinterland of the Cagliari coast. The name "Nascu," derived from the Latin "Muscus" (musk), refers to its unmistakable aroma, especially in wine several years old. Nasco was widespread throughout the island until the middle of the last century, and was judged one of Sardinia's most prestigious wines at the 1873 World's Fair in Vienna. Currently, Nasco is experiencing a renewed interest, although its production is still limited and appreciated mainly by a clientele of discerning connoisseurs. It has an elegant amber and topaz color, dense texture, intense aromas of honey, dried fruits, dates, figs, candied oranges, and hints of Mediterranean scrub and musk.
Vernaccia is a dry wine with a singular personality, with amber hues and olfactory sensations of dried fruits, almond blossoms and bitter honey, which are amplified in a long taste persistence.
Vernaccia is an ancient and noble grape variety present in Sardinia since time, and cultivated mainly in the Province of Oristano, where it prefers low soils derived from the alluvium of the Tirso and Rio Mannu rivers. It is often bred as a Latin sapling. Its name is attributed to the Romans and means "local grape." The wine obtained from Vernaccia is left to mature oxidatively for at least 3 to 4 years in oak or chestnut barrels, in contact with oxygen, which promotes the rise of yeasts on the surface of the wine, creating a veil called "flor" that contributes to the typical aroma of Vernaccia, defined by the old dialect term "murrai."
In addition to these grape varieties, other white grape varieties, such as Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, are also grown in Sardinia and used to produce white wines with different characteristics.
Sardinian white wines are versatile in the kitchen and pair well with many types of food: from seafood dishes, raw fish dishes, white meats and cheeses.
In general, it is important to consider the level of sweetness, acidity, and aromatic intensity of Sardinian white wine and pair it with foods that enhance its characteristics.