Capichera Assajé Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011
The island Carignano of Sardinia is, like many of the other French grapes planted there, built with a distinctly rugged personality. The island’s wines lean more toward Italian in style than French but also have a quality that’s not quite in the same line of expression as the Italian mainland.
The island has more sunlight and is hotter than the Italian mainland and was originally known for dessert wines. Its unique climate, which is also impacted by the African scirocco wind, makes red wines of a distinctly savory, herbal and rugged quality. The reds go well with the traditional Sardinian foods such as spit roasted suckling pig and lamb offal, and challenge the expectations of those familiar with the likes of Grenache and Carignan (there is nothing elsewhere that tastes like the Grenache (Cannonau) or Carignan (Carignano) of Sardinia).
Though traditionally agrarian and grain based, Sardinian farmers were encouraged and incentivized to plant wine grapes by the Italian government following World War 2. Most vineyards today derive from that time.
Rugged Red Wine
Tenute Capichera is a traditional Sardinian estate now headed by piemontese winemaker Beppe Caviola. The winery was founded in the 1980s and is most famous for its Vermentino. In fact it claims it is the first winery in the world to have fermented Vermentino in barriques. The vineyards where the Carignano and other red varieties are planted were acquired in the 1990’s.
Carignano is best in the southwestern part of Sardinia, known as Sulcis. It is here that the scirroco has its greatest impact and that is ideal for the powerful and fruity grape. Capichera’s version is one of the best. I’d desribe the Assaje, which is 100% Carignano, as darkly fruited, herbal and surprisingly savory for such a powerful 15% ABV wine. It is fermented in steel and then aged in barrique. The wood signature is restrained. Because of the acid and structure of the wine and the fact it avoids too much extraction or sweetness, it pairs quite well with meaty foods, or cured meat pizzas.
~$55 + tax at Kits Wine