Recently the office has been going mental for the wines of Sardinia. Like truly mental about it. We've been eating Sardinian food like there's no tomorrow and any chance to open up yet another bottle of Sardinian wine is pounced upon. We recently sang the praises of Agricola Punica (you can read that here) but wanted to draw attentions to the foremost winery of the island: Argiolas.
There is a truly wonderful story about this now legendary winery. It starts off at the turn of the 20th century when a man started to plant some vines on some cheap land. This was Antonio Argiolas' father who passed on these vineyards to his son in 1938 on turning just 32 years old. By this time the vineyards where well into their third decade themselves and were already producing good wines, though, not yet great. It is over the following years when Antonio himself had children and brought them into the family business when the winery moved in to a league of its own. Over the course of the 1970-80s they replanted the vineyards with the best clones money could by. They, also, joined arms with Mariano Murru, a leading enologist, who has helped them realise their dream of producing wines of phenomenal quality made in small batches and exclusively of Sardinian grapes.
Sardinia is a surprisingly large island, the second largest in all of the Mediterranean, and has a complex topography. This leads to a realm of different 'terroir' in which different grapes work better in certain sub-regions. It can be said that it is split into three main regions; Costa Smeralda in the north where Vermentino thrives, the southwest where Carignano works best, and in the southeast in the Trexenta hills where Cannonau is sublime. Argiolas is based in the south where it holds over 600 acres of premium vineyards.
There are three main grape varietals found in Sardinia: Vermentino, Cannonau (Grenache), and Carignano (Carignan). Argiolas has large plantings of all three yet have also made a point of specialising in the lesser known varietals: Red: Bovale Sardo and Monica, and Whites: Malvasia Blanca and Nasco. The viticultural appellation which covers the whole of the island: Isola dei Nuraghi, provides the wineries to blend a mixture of grapes together which wouldn't usually be allowed in the two stricter appellations of Vermentino di Sardegna and Cannonau di Sardegna. Both of which call for near 100% of the two grapes in question. It is for these reasons that many of their red wines are produced under the Isola dei Nuraghi name - to give the lesser known grapes a place to shine.
It doesn't take much tasting knowledge to realise that these wines are truly incredible. They have a breadth of flavour and intensity unseen in most regions across the globe. Many will put Sardinian reds into the winter wine/can only manage with food category as traditionally they have been a bit on the tannic side. Argiolas is confronting this mindset head on and is producing well-balanced reds and whites perfect for any and all occasions. Their whites are zingy, crisp and clean. The reds are fruity and layered with complexity. All are truly splendid and offer extraordinary value.
I personally implore you to take a punt on any of the Argiolas wines. You will not not like it - trust me on that!
P.S. - If you don't take my word for it then trust in Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson and James Suckling (the world's leading wine critics). They have all given them 90+ points for practically all wines in their portfolio. Here is a snapshot of James Suckling's most recent tasting of them: