Why Visit Sella & Mosca?
- You want to experience a piece of Sardinian and European viticultural history.
- You want to visit one of the largest wine estates in Europe.
- You want to try the premier wines of Sardinia.
Since I arrived in Sardinia just under a month ago, my boyfriend had been raving about Sella & Mosca. One of his favorite wineries on the island. A seriously impressive estate and massive production facility. Not to mention incredible wine. Though it took several attempts both over the phone and via email to book a visit to the winery, we managed to score an appointment for a tour just before New Year’s Eve. And I have to say I am SO happy we did because I have never been to a winery quite like Sella & Mosca.
Sella & Mosca is an important part of not only Sardinian wine history and culture, but also an important piece in the history of European viticulture. Founded in 1899 by two adventurous men from Piedmont, Mr. Sella, an engineer, and Mr. Mosca, a lawyer. They looked at the gorgeous, uncultivated land in northwest Sardinia near the city of Alghero and saw opportunity.
In fact, Sella & Mosca was not originally founded as a winery. At the time, Europe was being devastated by phylloxera, a pesky little insect that destroyed vineyards throughout the continent. The solution came from America whose rootstock was thankfully resistant to phylloxera. European vines were grafted onto American rootstocks and the wine industry in Europe was saved. Sella & Mosca actually began business creating the aforementioned hybrid vines, helping Europe to combat phylloxera.
The rocky soil of the Sella & Mosca estate was excavated and overturned in 1903 to plant vineyards and build a complex for the workers. The complex included the winery, worker housing, a school house, a small church, and 12.5 acres of nature preserve for native Mediterranean botanicals.
By 1930, Sella & Mosca had become a self-sustaining village. There were 15 or more families living on the estate planting and living off of their own grains, fruits, and vegetables. Upon visiting Sella & Mosca, you can visit a small museum on the property full of old photos of these founding families and what looks to be ancient machinery used to produce wine!
Today, Sella & Mosca encompasses a 1,600 acre property with 1,200 acres planted to vines. Recognized as one of the largest wine estates in Europe, the winery produces around 6 million bottles per year! The estate is absolutely gorgeous and inspiringly big. I was completely shocked at the length of the vineyard rows. They stretch further than the eye can see. Thankfully for the vineyard workers, the majority of harvesting is done by machine although the pruning and vine maintenance still needs to be done by hand.
If you come to Sardinian and you are a wine lover, then you definitely don’t want to miss Sella & Mosca. You can book a tour and tasting by calling or emailing the winery. The tour costs 5 euro per person and your tastings are paid for separately. The tour is guided, but the guide speaks Italian. So unless you speak Italian, I recommend coming with an Italian friend who can translate for you.
First, we visited Sella & Mosca’s original winery where wine was previously fermented and stored in countless massive concrete tanks. The winery used to complete all fermentations in these concrete tanks, but stopped using them by 1970. All wine is now mostly fermented in stainless steel tanks in Sella & Mosca’s HUGE new production facility which, unfortunately and to my disappointment, is not a stop on the tour.
Today, the original winery is used for barrel storage. On the day of our visit, we were told there are currently around 1,000 barrels of wine aging here.
Walking down a hall lined with even more barrels and down a set of stairs through a cavernous hallway leading to a lower underground level, we ended up in a room filled with at least 40 giant wooden barrels filled with wine.
The aroma was incredible. The giant wooden barrels vary in size with the largest holding a whopping 19,000 liters of wine! Sella & Mosca uses this room to age the Cannonau, Carignano, and Monica for anywhere from 1-3 years. Their Anghelu Ruju, a fortified wine made from Cannonau, spends 5 years in the largest of these oak barrels. Sella & Mosca actually makes these large oaks barrels on the property from Slovenian wood. The barrels are cleaned every few years by scraping away the residue inside. Each year, an estimated 3,000 liters of wine is lost to evaporation.
After touring this epic room, the tour guide took us on a short walk through the property to the bottle storage facility where walls of aging bottles are stacked from floor to ceiling.
Then we were led to a small museum on the property where we learned more about the early history of Sella & Mosca as well as general history about this beautiful region of Sardinia. And finally, we headed to the tasting room to try the wines!
Tastings at Sella & Mosca are done by the glass and are priced at 3-5 euro per tasting. However, you practically get a full glass of wine with each “tasting,” so come thirsty! The good thing about this system is you are able to choose the wines you are most interested in trying.
Between 3 people, we opted to taste 3 whites, 3 reds, and the fortified wine.
- 2017 Monteoro, Vermentino di Gallura DOCG – My favorite of the 3 white wines we tasted. Notes of jasmine and white florals, green apple, and sweet pear. Salinity like an ocean breeze. Chalky and mineral notes from the calcareous soil. Good acidity and a long luxurious finish. 141 acres of Vermentino are planted on the estate.
- 2017 Parallelo 41, Alghero DOC – A blend of Torbato and Sauvignon. This is a wine that would be well received for the American palate. Heavy on the oak influence with prominent vanilla flavors. Definitely went through malolactic with a creamy, buttery texture. Tropical fruit flavors. Extensive finish. A bit sweet.
- 2017 Terre Bianche Cuvée 161, Alghero Torbato DOC – A single varietal Torbato still wine. Very high acidity which I love, but not a lot else going on. Lacking in aromatics.
- 2015 Dimonios Riserva, Cannonau di Sardegna DOC Riserva – Good acidity. Long finish. Sweet tannins on the nose. Red berries. Dried cranberries. Tobacco spice. Long finish. Refined tannins. The wine is named for a brigade in the Sardegnan military, the Brigata Sassari, who ruthlessly fought the Austrians in WWI. Dimonios translates to demons in the local dialect, representing their courage in battle.
- 2014 Marchese di Villamarina, Alghero Cabernet Riserva DOC – I really loved this Cabernet Sauvignon, too. All I wrote in my notes was buono. Ha!
- 2014 Terrerare Riserva, Carignano Del Sulcis DOC Riserva – Didn’t take notes on this one, but I remember being a bit underwhelmed.
- 2005 Anghelu Ruju, Alghero DOC Liquoroso Riserva – 18.5% alcohol, but you wouldn’t know it by the taste and mouthfeel. Notes of caramel, raisins, and toffee. A hint of sweetness, but not overly sweet. Very luscious on the palate.
I would also definitely recommend tasting the Brut, Alghero Torbato Spumante DOC. Until recently, Sella & Mosca was the only winery in Sardinia growing and producing Torbato. Now, relatively newer Parpinello is also growing Torbato used for sparkling wine production. While we didn’t taste Sella & Mosca’s Torbato Brut Spumante while visiting the winery, we had a bottle at a dinner with friends a week later. So delicious! Torbato is a variety with a naturally high acidity. This high acidity lends itself well to sparkling wine making for a fresh and bright glass of bubbles.
Bottom line, if you make your way to Sardinia, Sella & Mosca is a must visit!