Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Cantina Santa Maria La Palma: All Aboard For Sardinian Wines
I was invited as a media guest to taste the wines of Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, a winery on the island of Sardinia, aboard a boat from the Stellar Yacht Cruises that toured the Boston Harbor. It happened to be a beautiful day, so there were calm waters and plenty of sunshine, the perfect setting for a wine tasting and lunch.
Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, a personable and charming advocate for these Sardinian wines. The winery was established as a cooperative in 1959 when one hundred growers decided to work together to produce wine. Currently, the cooperative includes about 300 farmers, working on approximately 700 hectares, with each farmer maintaining about 2-3 hectares. Many of the vineyards are about 20-30 years old, and Vermentino is grown on about 320 hectares while Cannonau is grown on about 106 hectares. The cooperative, which produces about 5 million bottles each year, is the largest producer of Vermentino in the world. The winery makes a total of about 25 different wines, importing several to the U.S.
The grape tends to produce aromatic and crisp wines, and is used to make a variety of different wine types. For example, under the Aragosta label, Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, makes four different Vermentino wines, including a Still, Sparkling, Spumante and Passito. Aragosta is the Italian word for the "spiny lobster" and it is pictured on the winery's labels.
Igor was very honest about this wine, noting that marketing was the number one reason for conducting this experiment. However, the environment during the aging of that wine is likely to effect the final product. The cold temperatures of the water, the darkness and the pressure all played a role in creating this wine. When it is removed from the water, they don't clean the bottles so the bottles do have growths from sea creatures. The bottle is placed into a plastic bag, which possesses the label, to maintain the integrity of the condition of the bottle when it was under the sea. I found this wine to be more full bodied, with a brighter gold color and smaller bubbles. It had a very similar taste profile, though I think the small bubbles helped to make it even more food friendly.
The 2015 Aragosta Rosé Alghero Rosato DOC is produced from a combination of Cannonau and Monica grapes. Monica, which adds softness to the wine, has been traced back to 11th century Camaldolite monks who cultivated the grape. This is a winter Rosé, a bolder dry Rosé with a dark red color, a full body and pleasing red fruit flavors with herbal accents. Germany is a major market for this wine.
The Cantavigna Alghero Rosé Frizzante DOC is made from several red grapes, including Cannonau, and also is more of a winter Rosé. It has a lighter red color, a mild effervescence, and soft flavors of strawberry and cherry with some herbal notes. I could see this working well in the summer too, the effervescence helping to cleanse your palate. As such, this would be an excellent food wine too.
With a medium red color, this wine has a compelling fruity aroma, and on the palate you get bold flavors of strawberry and cherry, with mildly spicy notes though the wine sees no oak. It is easy drinking and smooth, dry and robust, with a moderately long finish. This would be an excellent wine with pork and other meats, hard cheeses and fish such as salmon and tuna. You could even put this on you table for Thanksgiving. At this price point, it's an excellent value and highly recommended.