The island of Sardegna, 200km off the west coast of the Italian mainland, is a repository of multiple, quite disparate cultures and only truly became ‘Italian’ when it was ceded to the kingdom of Savoy in 1726. Its stellar list of conquerors include Carthage, ancient Rome, Byzantines, Arabs and then finally ending up in the hands of the Spanish for 400 years. This last occupation undoubtedly explains why Spanish varieties – Vermentino, Cariñena and Garnacha (known locally as Cannonau) – still dominate Sardegnan vineyards. The island’s wine industry has only recently begun to modernize and is just finding its way into foreign markets for the first time. Its economy has been based on grain production and raising livestock, mostly sheep, for milk, cheese and meat. Until 15 years ago, almost all Sardegnan wines were consumed locally. Vermentino and Cannonau show the most promise.


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