Monday, February 16, 2015



Oct-nov 2014 

Any student of Sardinian wine will discover that the island’s beloved Cannonau grape is actually Grenache, or Garnacha. The common thought was that Cannonau was Garnacha brought from Spain to the island of Sardinia 500 years ago. But seeds tested from archaeological ruins of Sardinian Nuraghes – megalithic fortresses from 4,000 years earlier than the Spanish occupation - prove otherwise.
On another find, an intact seed was tested and found to be Muristellu from the period of 1300 BC, a Sardinian autochthonous varietal known today as Monastrell in Spain, Mataró in Portugal and Mourvèdre in the south of France. Carignan may have also predated the Spaniards. According to Enzo Duscenne, Northern California/Nevada Regional Manager, Empson USA, 4,000 year-old seeds found in Sulcis were DNA tested and found to be what we call Carignan, or Carinena today. All of this supports the theory that these “Rhone” or “Spanish” grapes may have spread out from Sardinia, not the other way around. Locals claim these varieties had their roots here long before being exported to Spain and France when the island was part of the Kingdom of Aragon.
A detailed report in the Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology (2009) 84 (1) 65–71, Genetic relationships between Sardinian and Spanish viticulture: the
case of ‘Cannonau’ and ‘Garnacha’ by F. DE MATTIA, G. LOVICU, J. TARDAGUILA, F. GRASSI, S. IMAZIO, A. SCIENZA and M. LABRA,  says, “In Sardinia, the first documented reference to ‘Cannonau’ dates back to 1549 (Cherchi Paba, 1977). These historical documents suggest that ‘Garnacha’ and ‘Cannonau’ are extremely ancient varieties that were cultivated for many centuries in both Sardinia and Spain. Recent molecular analysis has revealed that several cultivars from the Iberian Peninsula display DNA chlorotypes that are compatible only with their having been derived from local wild grapevine populations (Grassi et al., 2003;Arroyo-Garcia et al., 2006).

Giuseppe “Beppe” CaViola, consulting winemaker of Sella & Mosca, one of the island’s pre-eminent wineries, says, “They found 3000-year old Cannonau seeds in Cagliari. It is not Grenache!” Dottore Sebastiano Rosa, stepson of Nicolo Incisa della Rochetta whose family owns Sassicaia, and who is partner with Santadi in Agricola Punica, a project that has resulted in Super Sardinian wines such as Barrua, a blend of old vine Carignano with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, concurs. “Seeds found in tombs from the Greek invasion were DNA tested and they were Cannonau. The Spaniards didn’t arrive until the last millenia.”

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