On this day, Thursday, January 9th, 2020, I am kicking off a new series which I aim to continue throughout the entire year. A series that I have big plans for that just might involve a future business I’ve been pondering. Or so I hope. A girl can dream! The name of this exciting new series? Rare Varieties.
If you know me or follow me on social media, you know I have an immense passion for discovering the lesser known varieties of the world. There’s enough Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay out there. Snooze, snore, boring. Now is the time to let the little guys shine! Actually, I do feel we are in a very special time in the wine world where consumers are becoming more curious about the lesser known, more exotic, unique varietals and smaller production producers. But that is a topic for another blog post.
My goal for this year is to share a rare variety with you every Thursday. In this way you and I can both discover new wines from around the world while also supporting the producers who are dedicated to keeping this varieties alive. In my opinion and the opinion of others I’ve spoken with in the industry, the average American wine consumer tends to reach for the bottle of wine with a variety they can pronounce on the label. Though I don’t lean this way and I’d venture to guess neither do you considering you’re reading my blog. However, I’m hoping that this small but mighty series will have a ripple effect through the far reaches of the wine world and help keep these rare varieties alive and thriving.
So, without further ado, I present to you the first rare variety we will be exploring together – Nuragus.
Nuragus – A White Variety From Sardinia
Have you heard of this variety? Nuragus is a white variety native to the island of Sardinia, Italy. Well, almost native. The story goes that Nuragus was brought to the island by the ancient Phoenician mariners sometime during the 12th century B.C. Now that’s a long time ago, but this is a familiar story to a handful of other varieties on this Mediterranean island. These Phoenicians also built the city of Nora, the remains of which can still be seen from Cagliari today.
Nuragus has virtually no relatives, genetically speaking. Semidano is the only genetically significant relative that has been determined. Another white variety native to Sardinia, you can read more about Semidano here. Nuragus is the second most planted white variety in Sardinia, claiming around 3,000 hectares of vineyards. This variety is mainly cultivated in the provinces of Oristano and Cagliari, more specifically in the regions of Campidano, Sulcis, Manrolisai, Ogliastra, and south-central Sardinia.
Nuragus di Cagliari D.O.C.
The Nuragus di Cagliari D.O.C. was established in 1974, which encompasses the zones of production in Cagliari and Campidano di Oristano. The wine must be made from a minimum of 85% Nuragus in order to be labeled as Nuragus di Cagliari D.O.C. and 15% of other non-aromatic white grape varieties of Sardinian cultivation are permitted. Vineyards are allowed a maximum yield of 200 quintals (20 tons)/hectare. The minimum alcohol level must be 10.5% abv, while still, sparkling, sweet, and dry styles are produced under this D.O.C.
Nuragus in the Vineyard
Nuragus is a variety that is adaptable to any type of terrain, which has likely contributed to this variety’s longevity on the island. This white variety is medium to late ripening and quite abundant with medium vigor. The grape clusters are conical and typically quite compact. Bud break usually takes place at the end of March or beginning of April. The grapes are then typically fully mature and harvested by mid-October depending on the growing season, of course.
Nuragus In The Glass
Nuragus is an intricate, delicate white wine that makes you consider each sip. Typical characteristics include:
- Golden straw color with gold or green reflections, light to medium intensity
- Light bodied with medium acidity
- Delicate structure and a rounded palate
- Flavors and aromas of green apple, citrus, almond, sweet florals like honeysuckle, and an undertone of salinity
- A pleasantly fresh white wine perfect for hot summer days
Nuragus would pair perfectly with a roasted chicken seasoned with thyme, linguine with clams, crab spring rolls, buttery baked scallops, or rice pilaf with walnuts and raisins.
Akinas, Uve di Sardegna, Poliedro, 2017, Ilisso Edizioni, Nuoro