In advance of the Fall Publisher’s Tour visit to Sardinia, Buddy Fortunato, Publisher of the Italian Tribune, enlisted the help of his friends at the Winebow Group, the nation’s premiere importers of Italian wine, to set up a visit to a vineyard. Through Winebow’s assistance, a remarkable day was spent at the Argiolas Wine Estate, where the group enjoyed a tour, wine tasting and lavish multi-course lunch.
In 1938, Antonio Argiolas founded the Argiolas Estate, which has helped place Sardinia on the map of the world’s finest wines. His two sons, Franco and Giuseppe, inherited his passion for the vine, which they shared with their wives, Pina and Marianna and later was passed along to their children. Now, more than 80 years later, the winery is run by the third Argiolas generation – Antonio’s grandchildren Valentina, Francesca and Antonio. Antonio passed away in 2009 at the age of 102, not an unusual age in Sardinia, bearing in mind that on the island, Cannonau wine is considered to be the ‘elixir of life.’ The family looks toward the future with the same resolve as Antonio, rooted in the belief that Sardinia’s local grapes hold the key not only to the island’s winemaking past, but to its future. as well.
The Estate’s most esteemed wine is ‘Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi.’ It was first created by the family patriarch along with Italy’s revered oenologist Giacomo Tachis in the late 1970s. The wine is made with a dominant percentage of Cannonau (a variety of the Grenache grape), blended with Malvasia Nera, Carignano (Carignan) and Bovale Sardo. The red wine combines both Sardinian traditions and modern winemaking techniques and ages beautifully. Such was the success of the blending that the Estate’s 1988 vintage is now legendary; expect to pay roughly $1,000 per bottle if you wish to include it in your cellar. Over the last 80 years, the winery has also dedicated itself to researching local varieties to preserve biodiversity, with continual research on grape varieties, sustainability and integrated farming.
It all began in the small town of Serdiana, about 12 miles north of Cagliari, whose softly rounded hills have supported vineyards and olive groves for thousands of years. This is a land of farmers in the noblest sense of the word, where traditions run strong and families have worshipped in the same Romanesque churches for centuries.
It is in the center of the town that the Publisher’s Tour arrived. Set amid narrow streets and buildings made from ladiri, the locally produced adobe bricks, the Argiolas Estate contrasts old with new. Adjacent to the winery’s entrance are halls containing state-of-the art equipment. It is an environment that is both welcoming and impressive.
The hospitality center is quite new, having only opened its doors last year. The tour was conducted by Giulia Annis, the Estate’s hospitality manager, while later the group was greeted by Valentina Argiolas for the wine tasting and lunch. Like a great novel, the tour explored the facility as though they were chapters of a book, each with its own story to tell. The guests examined ancient equipment, the spaces where the must ferments and the aging room where casks of wine delicately age into varieties that were soon sampled at a tasting, while others were enjoyed during lunch.
The extensive wine tasting included three different white wines – S ’elegas, a fruity fragrant white; Costamolino, a drier white and Is Argiolas, a superb rich and balanced wine. The tasting included five reds: Perdera, an intense ruby red made from the Monica grape; Costera, a delightful Cannonau, which was also served at lunch and Korem, a velvety smooth Isola dei Nuraghi. It too, was served at lunch, as was the Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi, the undisputed star of the show. It was served with roasted veal and garden vegetables. Lunch also featured Senes, a Cannonau that paired beautifully with Malloreddus pasta served in a red sauce with locally produced Pecorino cheese. The ample four-course lunch had begun with cured Sardinian meats and a fascinating selection of cheeses and ended with Angialis, a white wine, which has a round, semi sweetness. It was served with a dessert of Sardinian cheesecake. The visit to the Argiolas Wine Estate was an extraordinary day of fine food, exceptional hospitality and remarkable wine.
The hospitality center not only offers wine tastings and tours, but also conducts cooking classes covering traditional dishes. If you happen to visit the area, you will even find the Argiolas Wine Bar at Cagliari Airport, which is an excellent way for travelers to this part of Sardinia to be greeted!
The Argiolas Wine Estate is located at Via Roma, 28/30 – 09040 in Serdiana (CA), Sardinia, Italy. Visit their website at www.visitargiolas.it.