2017 Cantina Gostolai, Rosa ‘e Monte, Vino Bianco, Sardinia, Italy.
This intriguing golden white wine from Gostolai is made from mainly an ancient local varietal, Vernaccia Oristano that is estate grown in Sardinia’s high elevation Oliena zone, along with some fresh Gallura sourced Vermentino that adds some refreshing zip to this structured and gripping wine. This Rosa ‘e Monte Vino Bianco tastes more mature than its vintage would suggest, though that seems to the varietal expression more than any other factors with a lurid yellow glow in the glass and dried apricots leading the way on the palate in this wine that saw some 24 hours on the skins, reminding me of something you’d find in Italy’s Northeast, like Skerk’s Vitovska orange wines from the Carso region. The layering feels almost red wine like and while this wine only saw stainless steel, there is a richness and yellow fruit density to go with its zesty kick and medium bodied mouth feel with supple layers of preserved lemons, apple, quince and the mentioned apricot fruit as well as a hint of tropical essences, verbena, garden herbs and very subtle florals. This is very unique stuff, and doesn’t taste like anything you’d expect from this Mediterranean Island and this terroir, but has loads of historic personality and is wonderfully, if not surprisingly, good with food, making for a nice pairing with farm cheeses and or Moroccan dishes like Lemon Chicken. My experience lately with this winery has made me want to explore Sardinia and all of its distinct terroirs, which range from deep sands to Dolomite like granite soils, from sea level vineyards to high mountain vines that get a cool breeze and cold nights, as this Gostolai gets.

Cantina or Vini Gostolai, a winery that I have grown really fond of in a short time, started making wines in 1988 with the goal to highlight local historic traditions and shine a spotlight on the best grapes, with ancient origins that grow in Oliena’s territory. Sardinia, well known for Cannonau (Grenache) and Vermentino, is still a mysterious place, that the wine world has only scratched the surface its past and its Vinifera importance, with thousands of years of winemaking history here. My Sardinian friend and Italian sommelier Giuseppi Cossu has been instrumental in educating me on some of the island’s rarities, like this unusual wine and grapes like Vernaccia Oristano, which was first documented here over a thousand years ago, and the many unique styles that it is traditionally made into, like this skin contact version as well as a Madieira or tawny port style example, which I will follow up with in the future. The 2017 Rosa ‘e Monte gains dimension with air and adds lime blossom, almonds and a hint of papaya along with a mineral and saltiness that is compelling and its dry extract lingers on the finish. The winemaking here is light handed with a focus on transparency and varietal expression with this wine, 70% Vernaccia, grown holistically on Oliena’s chalky calcareous soils and 30% Vermentino, grown on granite and sand in the Murta Maria (Gallura) area, seeing a natural native yeast fermentation, all at controlled cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks. This vintage, with the mentioned 24 hours on the skins, got a gentle pressing and then saw a 10 month elevage on the fine lees, again only in the stainless tank before bottling. This wine is impressive stuff and I am enjoying the full collection of Gostolai offerings, especially their Cannonau (Grenache) wines, all of which I recommend searching out.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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