2022 Vini Contini, Karmis Cuvée, IGT White, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardinia, Italy.
Fresh from Sardinia, the Karmis Cuvée from Contini is a bright, fresh, ultra dry and mineral driven white blend of native varietals Vermentino and the rare Vernaccia di Oristano, which is its own distinct grape that is used to make both dry and sweet wines on the island, and helps give this wine added complexity and verve. This new vintage is crisply detailed and perfect for the sunny Spring and Summer weather and will be fabulous with lighter cuisine and especially briny shellfish dishes and outdoor dinning with tangy citrus and stone fruit on the lively palate. As this pale golden white opens in the glass you get an almost white Rhone or Provence like character with tangerine, tart peach and melon fruits, a steely taut frame, saline, wet stone and hints of white flowers, tropical essences and snappy herbs, reminding me of Grenache Blanc and Clairette based wines. This all stainless steel fermented and aged white is lean and vibrant, but has enough vinous quality to impress and it should prove rewarding for short and midterm aging, though you’ll very much enjoy this right now and no patience is needed, it is a great alternative to the sea of generic offerings in its price point, in fact it is an exceptional value and a very unique taste of the Mediterranean! This wine comes from mostly bush trained vines set across three terroirs, Tirso valley, Sinis peninsula and Terre di Ossidiana, all about 200 meters up with a combination of soils, including, according to the winery, partly alluvial, sandy, slightly clayey and some volcanic in make up, which adds to the depth here.
In the last year or so I’ve been introduced to a few bottlings of Vernaccia di Oristano, an at least 3,000 year old local grape with no know relatives outside of Sardinia and unrelated to the famous Vernaccia di San Gimignano in Tuscany and native to the Tirso river valley that crosses the island of Sardinia before emptying into the Gulf of Oristano, hence the name. My friend and winemaker/sommelier Giuseppi Cossu, a native of Sardinia, who lives here in California most of the year, has now on a few occasions brought back from Sardinia some amazing wines to show me, sadly many of which don’t get exported to the states. Vernaccia di Oristano, which was first documented in 1327, was originally thought to have been introduced to the island of Sardinia by the Phoenicians, but grape seeds now have been found here that were over 3,000 years old, making it almost certainly a native grape that was here much earlier than previously thought. Vermentino, which retains loads of acidity, is more widely grown around the Mediterranean and known as Rolle in parts of France, it is commonly found in the Rhone Valley, has a long history here on Sardinia, though also very famous on Corsica as well in the Liguria region of Italy too. This was my first Contini wine, a winery that dates back to 1898, previously I had Gostolai with these grapes blended, and I was thrilled with the Karmis, which was made to highlight the Vernaccia di Oristano, with about 70% and backed up by the Vermentino 30% in the typical vintage. Soft, direct pressed to temperature controlled stainless steel vats where it saw about 3 or 4 months with some lees stirring, but no malos, before being bottled to preserve absolute purity and its refreshing character.
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive