2012 Cantina Gostolai, Cannonau di Sardegna, Nepente – Riserva “Sos Usos” Nepente di Oliena, Sardinia, Italy.
The 2012 Gostolai “Sos Usos” Cannonau di Sardegna Nepente Riserva is a glorious old world wine that without being loud or flashy is absolutely captivating, casting a beautiful spell on those lucky enough to experience it showing a deep earthy fruit dimension with pleasing mouth feel, intriguing complexity and compelling length, making for an impressive wine. Cannonau, which is Grenache, is the Island of Sardinia’s signature red grape and wine, with Gostolai’s version being exceptionally distinct showing brandied cherries, strawberry, plum, brambly raspberry and red currant fruits along with forest floor, bay leaf, cigar wrapper, cedar, dried flowers, peppery spices and minty anise. While there is furious debate between Sardinia and Spain as to the historical origin of Grenache, carbon dating has interestingly now presented Sardinia with the edge with the earliest known grape extract of Grenache found so far. These Sardinian examples of Grenache are unique, they have their own characteristics with one of the most noticeable differences being the pigment which is more like Nebbiolo in hue with a deep garnet and brick edged color, like this one shows, much less purply that the Rhone, Spanish, Australian and or California versions. This value packed 2012 Gostolai Riserva is really coming into its peak with silken tannin, secondary maturity of flavors, as well as displaying elegant transparency, making it an artfully made wine that has plenty to offer wine enthusiasts, especially Italian aficionados, in fact their is many elements of this wine that will appeal to Tuscan and Piedmonte fans.

I featured Gostolai recently, highlighting one of their white wines made from a rare native varietal, and I’m glad to have been introduced to this winery, again many thanks to Sardinian native and Italian sommelier Giuseppe Cossu for sharing these wines with me, they have re-ignited my excitement for this Island’s wines. The Cantina Gostolai, based in Nepente di Oliena in the northeast side of Sardinia, is mostly known for their Vermentino di Sardegna and this Cannonau (Grenache) di Sardegna wines, but they also produce small real rarities as well, including a sweet Muscat and the almost unheard of local varietal Arvesiniadu, a grape not found anywhere else in the world, which I reviewed earlier this month. Sardinia has many distinct terroirs and climates that have a huge range of soils from ancient volcanic to deep decomposed granite sands, which Connonau loves, that all give very individual flavors to the wines here on this Mediterranean island, which just might be the birth place of western Europe’s wine trade. This Riserva, sourced from 25 year old vines at about a 1,000 feet of elevation on the granite based sandy soils, saw about two weeks of maceration on the skins, with the grapes going through a severe selection and being 100% de-stemmed, and fermented in stainless before being racked to large used 750 liter Tonneau (barrel), where it is aged for about 20 months. After being bottled this wine then gets rested in the cellar a further year to mature before release, allowing the wine the time it needs to show its full personality and come together. This Cannonau di Sardegna, Nepente – Riserva “Sos Usos” by vini Gostolai has a raw sex appeal, it is a stand out example and a wine that has lots to admire, it goes fabulously well with food, as you’d expect from an Italian red, especially rustic cuisine and or hard cheeses, it won’t be easy to find, but well worth searching for.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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