Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)

(images: Sella & Mosca)

Wow.

We’re now at the point where the Covid-era virtual visits/tastings for producers who have previously been doing virtual visits/tastings are coming around yet again, with new rounds of vintages to explore. We’ve officially lapped in the “wine in the time of Coronavirus” series.

Holy sh*t.

Back in part 41(!) of this series, I got to taste some samples alongside the folks from Sardinia’s Sella & Mosca. For the 61st post in this series, we’re back with Sella & Mosca. And I think my head is going to explode, in both the good (these are some very tasty wines) and bad (for f*ck’s sake, this pandemic has been looooooong) senses.

For this round, we were joined (virtually) by Giovanni Pinna (their Winery Director) and Alfonso Gagliano (who handles the American market for Sella & Mosca). For those of you who, like me, have been robbed of travel to Sella & Mosca’s home turf of Sardinia, here’s a quick primer:

Sardinia sits south of Corsica, and is on of Italy’s largest islands, though it’s much less populated than its other large island, Sicily. During the Summer moths, things really get into swing on Sardinia—its population of 1.2 million or so roughly doubles at t hat time. There are usually twice as many goat and sheep on Sardinia than there are people. Geologically, it’s more similar to Provence (from which it once detached) than to, say, Tuscany. Its isolation birthed uniqueness in several forms, including in culture, language, and gastronomy.

Now that we’re up to speed, let’s drink…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2020 Sella & Mosca Torbato Spumante Brut, Alghero, $25

Vines for this bubbly are “very near the sea, and the Mistral brings the salt on to the vines” according to Pinna. Interestingly, the Torbato grapes develop a sticky film that tends to capture a crust of salt on the skins. Iodine, white flower, white grapefruit, saline and citrus pith all greet you here. It’s almost delicate in flavors but not in texture or in aromatics (hello, Charmat method!), and it feels ultra-refreshing in the mouth. Herbal hints send it off on a long finish. You could do SOOOOO much worse in terms of a beachside sipper.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2021 Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna, $14

Citrus, tropical fruit, wet stone, saline, jasmine, and herbs… ahhh, Vermentino, how I love thee. Especially this one, which is both generously tropical in the mouth and also excitingly vibrant, showing just enough structure to be intellectually interesting as well as just plain ol’ delicious. This is a perennial overachiever and remains a white not to be missed (especially for the $) by Vermentino fans. There’s good reason this is one of the best-selling Vermentino labels in the U.S.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2020 Sella & Mosca Monteoro Vermentino di Gallura Superiore, $28

Sourced in the Gallura area, on the slopes of the south side of Mount Limbara on sandy soils derived from granite, this white sees 4 months of lees contact in stainless steel. The extra lees activity make this perfumed and heady, richer in the nose and the mouth and more exotic in its tropical fruitiness. Herbs and underbrush, lively acidity, salty hints… It makes me want to kiss the glass, and not in an entirely ‘just-friends’ way.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2019 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, $15

Aged for 2+ years (with 6 months in wood, though none of it is new), this red is showing its Grenache family connection with all of those dried violets, pepper, and bright red fruits on the nose. Fresh and balanced in the mouth, with some spice notes, lots of friendly cherry and plum fruit flavor, this vintage might not be quite as elegant as previous releases, but is uber-friendly (and is going to make a lot of drinkers quite happy).

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2018 Sella & Mosca Tanca Farrà 2018, Alghero, $32

A 50/50 split of Cannonau and Cabernet Sauvignon that Pinna describes as “a really good marriage.” Indeed, it is. Savory with red and black cherry, balsamic, sweet tobacco leaf, there’s also plenty of cassis, earth, and just-ripe black plum. The Cabernet comes out in the mouth, where it brings some funk, dried herbs, and blackcurrant action. Quite long in the mouth, with a nice balance between savoriness, vibrancy, structure, and textural tension.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases)2016 Sella & Mosca Marchese di Villamarina, Alghero, $70

Cabernet Sauvignon, all on its lonesome here. Mature and quite earthy, with leather, funk, game, stewed red fruits, cigar box, sweet herbal spices and licorice, yet still young in the mouth, and feeling silky. Lots of dark fruit is served up with plenty of savory balsamic drizzle. Soooo fresh, and that freshness does NOT let up despite the great length of the finish. Elegant stuff, and you might think that you’re sipping on a well-crafted 3rd Growth Bordeaux if you had this one blind.

 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 61: Here We Go, Again (More Sella & Mosca Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)

Antonella Corda (image: Antonella Corda)

When I joined a media tasting (back in January… f*ck you, we just had a baby!!!) to go through samples of recent releases from Sardinia’s Antonella Corda, we were missing one important attendee: Antonella Corda.

Corda was unable to join the tasting of her namesake’s wares because she was about to give birth, making her motto “di madre in vigna” particularly apt. And so, as they say, the proceedings were pregnant with more than just possibilities.

Antonella herself has never been a stranger to the wine world, as she is related to one of the most important wine families on the island, the Argiolas. Located in Serdiana (about 20 kilometres north of Cagliari in the southern part of Sardinia), Antonella Corda (the estate, not the lady) was founded in 2010. Producing about 60,000 bottles/year (along with some olive oil) from their sand, clay, and loam soils, their vines are influenced by cooler northern winds (which helps mitigate the infamous Sardinian Summer heat in the vineyards), restraining maturation and retaining acids.

They farm two main vineyards. First, there’s Mitza Manna, the favorite vineyard of Antonella’s grandfather (Antonio Argiolas), sitting at about 200 meters in elevation, and growing Vermentino and Nuragus (which benefit from the calcium deposits of the soils there). Next, there’s Mitza S’ollastu, located on the border of the town of Ussana, where they primarily grow Vermentino and Cannonau. Soils are mainly riverbed influenced, with pebbles, sand, loam and clay (making it a great spot for developing structure and balance in the grapes, according to them).

As longtime 1WD readers are already aware, I am a total sucker for Vementino, so you probably already know where this one is going…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2020 Antonella Corda Vermentino di Sardegna, $20

I’m like a broken record when it comes to Sardinia’s Vermentino (well, the well-executed examples, anyway). White flowers, minerals/wet stone, citrus, light herbal notes, yellow apple, white peaches, and freshness… It makes me want to buy several bottles, and I almost never actually buy wine with my own money any more. Notes of oranges, citrus zest, and mild hints of earth add complexity to this hand-harvested little delight. This is Elegant without sacrificing deliciousness, juiciness, or fruitiness.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2020 Antonella Corda Nuragus di Cagliari, $19

This variety was typically used in the south of the island as a low-brow house wine; here it gets the premium treatment. One hectare of plantings produced just 5,000 bottles of this one. It’s quite floral, and heady, with a saline note and also some savory elements. And Fresh!, with stone fruits, pear, and lime zest. Consider this one lighter/medium bodied and just friggin’ delicious. It’s the kind of white that evokes the seaside and makes you want to drink all day. That interesting pithy note on the (very long) finish will wake you up from your nap.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2018 Antonella Corda ‘Ziru’ Isola dei Nuraghi, $NA

Ziru is a skin-fermented Vermentino, aged in amphora for 24 months. Just 2,500 bottles were made. Unfiltered because why not. The name comes from the traditional term for amphora used to store wine and oils in Sardinia. Almost neon lemon in color, it offers a savory, mineral, salty nose, with dried white fig, lemon peel, peach, apricot, and orange rind. Matured notes of dried tropical fruits emerge on the palate, with roundness but also tons of vibrancy. Almost smokey, with lemon drop hints and great structural elements. Super long. So, yeah, the love affair with this grape variety continues unabated.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)2019 Antonella Corda Cannonau di Sardegna, $30

10% Syrah, 90% Grenache, 15% abv, 100% sexy. It’s a lovely light red in color, but don’t let that fool you. Little hints of game and leather show up, but this red is dominated by fresh, ripe red berries, rose petals, red cherries, white pepper, and mint. Equal parts smooth and fresh, with good length, it holds the alcohol level well, though you do feel it on the long finish. Sultry stuff that goes down dangerously easy. Hangover warning!

Cheers!

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases)

image: Sella & Mosca

Recently, I was invited to taste some S&M samples via Zoom.

Ok, your randy peoples, we’re talking about a very particular, vinous S&M here – specifically, Sardinia’s Sella & Mosca. The one Founded in 1899 by two Piedmont businessmen, Erminio Sella and Edgardo Mosca, who after the Phylloxera epidemic ambitiously wanted to reclaim vineyards in the island’s I Piani area. Now, the I Piani estate is the second largest contiguous vineyard in Italy, and still employs the cellars built in 1903. Notice I wrote cellars and not dungeons

Anyway, for this particular tasting we were joined by winemaker (and Sardinia native) Giovanni Pinna, and Sella & Mosca Export Manager Alfonso Gagliano, who walked us through the tasting, as well as through the history of both Sardinia and Sella & Mosca. Regarding the former, Sardinia came (millions of years ago, of course) as a chunk off of the Iberian Peninsula, from what is now the south of France. So, it has similarities geographically to Provence, along with a Mediterranean climate (given it’s now in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea). Interestingly, the most traditional foods are inland, and not seafood, since historically Sardinia was a prime target for invasion, which over time became a serious deterrent for coastal activities such as fishing (suckling pig preparations there traditionally date back 2000 years, for example). The island is also famously part of “The Blue Zones” – those regions of the world containing the highest concentration of people that live into their 100s. Of course, this being the wine biz, we like to credit that longevity to alcohol somehow – traditionally, the homemade wine in Sardinia was “crafted” from varieties with high resveratrol content (thought to be healthy… maybe… probably), and the locals started drinking small quantities of it with meals from relatively early ages. Your mileage, of course, will probably vary when it comes to combinations of personal lifespan and Sardinian wine drinking.

As for Sella & Mosca, their winery is located in Alghero in northwest Sardinia, a fortified city founded by the Catalans. Much of their vineyards are there in the hot and dry climate, plus holdings in the very north (Gallura), central-east (Ogliastra), and far southwest (Sulcis). And here’s a prime wine trivia question candidate for you: Sella & Mosca’s 1,600-acre I Piani estate constitutes the second largest contiguous vineyard in Italy, covering more than 1,200 acres of vines (which also makes it one of the largest such wine estates in Europe). There estate vineyards are all organic, focusing mostly on “native” varieties. As for how the founders got there: they were bankers who vacationed and hunted in Sardinia, and noticed that the vines there weren’t succumbing to the Phylloxera epidemic the way that most European vines had been at the time (business opportunity alert!).

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s drink!…

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases)2018 Sella & Mosca Torbato Brut (Alghero, $21)

Sparkling and seaside are a natural combo, but sparkling and Torbato might not seem quite as natural a paring to many of us, so here’s some more background: Torbato is an ancient grape variety from the Malvoisie de Roussillon family, probably introduced from the Aegean to the Iberian coast by the Phoenicians and brought to Sardinia by the Catalans around 600 years ago. It basically disappeared in Spain, and was headed for the same fate in Sardinia as it’s difficult to grow and to vinify (its name comes from the word for turbid, because it produces a cloudy must). Sella & Mosca are widely considered to be the savior of the variety, leading its resurgence (well, at least on Sardinia). The soils for these single vineyard grapes are chalky (something Torbato seems to love), supporting 20 year old vines. Assertive and fruity on the nose (thanks to the Charmat production method), this exudes acacia flower, grapefruit, and lemon rind. The palate has a mix of savory and fresh citrus notes. Very fresh, with light herbal hints, iodine, and a long finish. It just feels like an island wine, appropriately.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases)2020 Sella & Mosca La Cala (Vermentino di Sardegna, $14)

Sardinia’s flagship white variety is used to create La Cala, named after a particularly pretty stretch of coastline. La Cala comes from Alghero, with soil rich in lime and clay, in a spot that enjoys strong sea breeze influences. Apples, tropical fruits, and several kinds of pears mark the nose, followed by hints of mineral, saline, white flowers, lemons and limes. I love the palate – equal parts citrus pith, refreshment, and “exotic” tropical fruits. A little welcome bite of astringency linear acidity, a ton of minerality and a long finish all make this white overachieve. There’s just a lot to like for the price here.

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases)2018 Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche Torbato (Alghero, $21)

This is Sella & Mosca’s archetypal Torbato, sourced from their inland vines growing on a mountainous terrain of granite, schist, sandstone and limestone. The grapes are harvested later than for the Brut. Acacia is back, joining hints of grilled citrus and honey. Nice and fresh, but also has some round edges to it. Quite elegant overall, with nice salinity, though not terribly complex in terms of its grilled citrus and peach flavors (trust me, you won’t mind).

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases)2018 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva (Sardinia, $18)

Recent archeological work has uncovered several hundred year old grape seeds in Sardinia, and they happened to be Cannonau. Part of the Grenache family, Cannonau is the region’s most widely-grown red wine grape, probably brought to the island by Phoenician traders (given the dating of the grape seed findings). The nose has a lot going on – dried violets, pepper, jammy red plums, black cherries, dried herbs, and balsamic. Juicy and immediately pleasing on the palate, this red is very fresh, and quite elegant. This needs foods to tame some of that raging acidity, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling piquant and lovely, and carrying its 14% abv and structure extremely well.

 

Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases)2015 Sella & Mosca Tanca Farrà (Alghero, $26)

This 50/50 split of Cannonau and Cabernet Sauvignon sees 12 months in French oak (partly in second use French barrique, and partlky in oak casks). At the rish of sounding like a broken record here, this red is… elegant. Cloves, spices, herbs, earth, tar, blackcurrant, leather, some game meat, and matured notes like stewed red and black plums… it’s quite a nose, really. It’s supple, balanced, and almost Bordeaux-like in how it presents on the palate with its balsamic notes and ample freshness. It’s structured, vibrant, and delicious. Still plenty of fruit left, but you’ll need to like them on the mature side to get fully into this one.

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 41: A Little S&M (Sella & Mosca Sardinia Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!