Why Visit Giuseppe Sedilesu?
- You want to understand what Cannonau is truly about
- You enjoy supporting family businesses
- You are curious to taste a rare white variety native to Sardinia and only grown in Barbagia
The Winery: Giuseppe Sedilesu
Giuseppe Sedilesu is a family owned and operated winery located in the heart of Barbagia in a village called Mamoiada. Barbagia is internationally renowned for growing the purest expression of Cannonau in the villages of Mamoiada, Olienas, and Orgosolo. Around 35 years ago the winery’s namesake, Giuseppe Sedilesu, along with his wife, Grazia, founded Azienda Vitivinicola Giuseppe Sedilesu with only a single hectare of vineyards. Originally, Grazia and Giuseppe produced only bulk wine, which they sold amongst the villages surrounding Mamoiada.
For many years, the Sedilesu family dreamed of bringing the aromas and flavors of the land they grew up on to the greater wine market. That dream came to fruition when Giuseppe and Grazia’s children took over the winery in 2000. This decision definitely paid off as Giuseppe Sedilesu was able to double wine production and build a new winery over the next 10 years.
Today, Giuseppe Sedilesu is entirely operated by Grazia and Giuseppe’s three children and their families. This includes their daughter Antoniette and her husband Emilio, son Francesco with his wife Rosa, son Salvatore and his wife Mariella, and a whopping total of 13 grandchildren. The winery also plays a significant role in developing the wine tourism sector for Mamoiada. Giuseppe Sedilesu is a member of the Consorzio di Tutela del D.O.C. Cannonau di Sardegna, a cooperative established with the intention of protecting the Cannonau D.O.C. brand. They are also involved with the burgeoning La Strada del Vino Cannonau (The Cannonau Wine Route) project.
The Tasting Experience at Giuseppe Sedilesu
We arrived at Giuseppe Sedilesu on the tail end of harvest and were greeted by five of the cousins working in the cantina. The cousins were busy racking red wines from tanks when we showed up. Pumps and hoses wound between tanks throughout the winery and the beautiful smell of harvest in the cellar filled the air. Giant bags of pressed off grape skins were lined up outside, waiting to be sold to the distillery to be made into aqua-vita or grappa.
After introductions and shaking wine stained hands, we were off on a tour of the gorgeous three-story facility. We started on the ground floor with the winery production area and bottling line. We met Francesco, one of Giuseppe and Grazia’s children, whom Marco knows because he studied enology at university with Simone, Francesco’s son. Simone actually has his own winery, Vike Vike, right across the courtyard from Giuseppe Sedilesu. Francesco is responsible for the winemaking at Giuseppe Sedilesu and is completely self-taught. Everything he learned about winemaking he studied or read in a book. I’m thinking he’s really smart because his wines are damn good and technically sound.
Next, we hopped in an elevator with the cousin who was hosting us and headed 3m below ground to an additional winery space. This subterranean level is mostly dedicated to wine storage, half for bottle storage and the other half home to concrete tanks and barrels. Most of the wines at Giuseppe Sedilesu are fermented in stainless steel tanks or open top fermenters. Fermentation is always spontaneous, on native yeasts and never inoculated. The wines are then transferred to concrete tanks to settle for a few days before being racked off. They actually have large hoses running through the ground floor level and down to the subterranean level in order to efficiently transfer the wine into the concrete tanks.
Malolactic fermentation is naturally carried out by the wines themselves when the alcohol content is not too high to impede the process. None of the wines are filtered and minimal sulfites are added for preservation. The reds are typically aged in various sizes of oak barrels ranging from 5hl to 75hl, while their one white wine never sees oak and is kept in stainless steel tanks. For bottle aging, most bottles are stacked and stored in cages, awaiting labelling and packaging once sold. There are also hundreds of very special bottles stored in a tunnel-like cellar that was definitely giving me some wine cellar inspiration.
Following the tour of the subterranean wine cellar, which was naturally the perfect temperature for wine storage, we headed up to the top level of the Giuseppe Sedilesu winery for our tasting. This floor is home to a restaurant, a beautifully designed tasting room exuding the culture of Mamoiada, and an outdoor terrace with a magnificent view of the village.
We tasted through four of the exceptional Giuseppe Sedilesu wines and I fell in love with every single one. I’ve included my tasting notes below, but just know that the wines of Giuseppe Sedilesu are not to be missed if you find yourself wine tasting in Sardegna. Each wine was flawless, balanced, and wholly expressive of the Mamoiada terroir. Giuseppe Sedilesu even produces what we Americans would call an orange wine, a.k.a. a skin-contact white wine, from a variety solely grown in Mamoiada. Definitely a must try wine. Read on for more!
2016 Garnazza Sulla Bucce
- Garnazza is a white grape native to Sardegna and grown only in Mamoiada and Orgosolo
- 2-3 days maceration on the skins, fermented on native yeasts, 14.5% alcohol
- Only in stainless steel, never saw oak
- On the nose – clean with medium intensity and aromas of apricot, caramel, perfume of dusty flowers like a delicate potpourri, clay
- The nose is reminiscent of the experience of smelling a red wine, more hefty aromas with more weight
- On the palate – similar flavors as aromas, big and round on the palate, especially for a white wine, very delicate, elegant tannins, super long finish
2016 Mamuthone Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C.
- 100% Cannonau from Mamoiada
- Just over 2-week maceration, fermented on native yeasts, 14.5% alcohol
- Aged for 12 months in large oak (40hL) barrels and at least 3 months in bottle before release
- On the nose – red berries, macchia (wild brush and dried herbs), pepper, spice
- On the palate – red berries, macchia, spice, dense and fresh on the palate with sweet tannins
- Light to medium bodied, alcoholic
- The winery’s flagship wine
2014 Ballu Tundu Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. Riserva
- 100% Cannonau from Mamoiada sourced from a bush trained vineyard that is over 100 years old located at 650m above sea level
- Fermented in large oak vessels on native yeasts, then aged for 24 months in large oak (70hL) barrels and aged at least 9 months in bottle before release
- Named for a traditional Sardinian dance, though the name also eludes to the roundness on the palate and robust mouthfeel
- My first note: WOW both on the nose and on the palate!
- Beautiful violet hued color
- Way more depth and character than Mamuthone
- Aromas and flavors – raspberry, juicy dark red fruits, macchia, plum, tobacco
- Elegant on the palate, layered and complex, well-structured
- This is an exceptional Cannonau and a great bottle to drink to learn what this variety is all about
2010 Carnivalé Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. Riserva
- 100% Cannonau from Mamoiada
- 16% alcohol, fermented on native yeasts
- Aged for 14-16 months in 225-liter barrels (20% new) and aged at least one year in bottle
- Also, a WOW wine
- Aromas of tertiary red fruits, smoke, spice, and graphite
- Full-bodied on the palate and extensive with vibrant flavors similar to the aromas and succulent, rounded tannins
Though Cannonau is grown throughout Sardinia, Barbagia is recognized as the home of Cannonau. After tasting at Giuseppe Sedilesu in Mamoiada, I understand why. These wines possess the characteristic juicy red fruits, macchia, plum, and tobacco notes that Cannonau is known for, yet they hold so much more. The Cannonau here is elegant in structure, but with a spirited quality exuding a distinguished sense of place that can only be established historically over time.
We came home with a Garnazza, a Ballu Tundu, and a Mamuthone, so stay tuned for posts offering a deeper dive into these Giuseppe Sedilesu wines and potentially some food pairings, too!
The Territory and Climate of Mamoiada
Mamoiada is a charming village home to around only 2,600 inhabitants, situated in the heart of Barbagia about 16km from the province capital of Nuoro. The territory encompasses around 4,900 hectares, including the massive mountain range at the center of the island called Gennargentu, and sits at an average elevation of 740m above sea level. There are currently five wineries in Mamoiada with around 270ha under vine.
Mamoiada experiences a mild Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and some rainfall and snow in the winter. During the growing season prior to harvest, the region has a significant diurnal temperature swing which helps to preserve acidity, enhance sugars, and improve grape phenolics. The soils of Mamoiada are sandy and mainly composed of decayed granite with small amounts of clay and humus. For more information on the incredible culture, history, and archaeology of Mamoiada, click here.