Monday, April 18, 2011

Vinitaly with Vincenzo Mercurio : Sardinia's Cantina Poderosa

Vinitaly can be overwhelming. A lot of wine, a lot of territory. I didn't have a lot of 'free time', so I wanted to make the most of it. I felt I needed someone to show me around. That someone was Vincenzo Mercurio. Vincenzo is a well respected wine maker and works with a fair number of wineries nationally and internationally. He would be the perfect person to take me on a tour of different territories and was more than happy to share a couple of hours with me during his busy Vinitaly  discussing various traditions, terrain, and wine.

So, our trip began in Sardinia…an island located off the western coast of Italy. An amusement park for the rich and famous in the summer with its clear blue seas and beautiful beaches. He introduced me to a land smack in the middle of the province of Sassari, at the foot of Mount Santu. A fertile, volcanic area. He presented Cantina Poderosa, a winery with 6 hectares of vineyards nestled in a land rich in antique traditions and culture. And he did it by setting down three bottles on the table between us. The bottles had the same name, Lunàdu, and contained a wine made from the same grape; Vermentino. I had to look closely at the label to see what differences, if any, there were amongst them. Ah, there, the moon. A small design of a moon on each bottle; a waxing crescent moon, a waning crescent moon and a full moon. One grape, three wines, each grape growing procedures such as pruning and trimming performed during a different phase of the moon. Ancient traditions that were an experiment for Mercurio, who considers himself more a scientist than a philosopher. Would there be differences? I wondered. I would soon find out as he poured three glasses of Lunàdu 2009, 100% Vermentino.

First of all, each glass was a gorgeous golden color. It was interesting (if not entertaining) to note the differences between the two crescent wines…differences in intensity of citrusy grapefruit aromas. One had more structure and body. Both a powerful 15% alcohol content…but fresh and flavorful.

A full moon can be enchanting. And Poderosa’s Lunàdu- luna piena was just that. Besides the major work in the fields done during the full moon phase, this wine underwent a maceration process similar to a red wine. 15 days in wood before it continued its way and joined the other two bottles on the table. Less citrus, more floral and a touch of spice. A very different smoky flavor.

As enchanting as this glass was, what was even more captivating were the stories Mercurio shared with me about this winery. Like stories about Gavino Ledda, a poet who published Padre e Padrone, who studied the ancient Sardo language, and who gave a name to the various vineyards that Poderosa possesses.

We talked about how in the past, bread was dipped into wine. Only the wine that was absorbed by a piece of bread was drunk/eaten. He shared this particular story as we tried the next wine; Monte Santu- il vino del pane 2008. Here was a dark ruby red wine which I could imagine dipping a piece of bread into. Here were three grapes; Cannonau, Cagnulari, and Monica. I’d never tried these three grapes, and I enjoyed the flavor of this lightly tannic red.

The last wine I tried from this interesting piece of Sardinia was Lierra-enigma di liberta 2008. A wine that was ready to express its liberty through wild, sweet aromas. Where this wine, made with 100% Cagnulari, showed me how flavorful wines from a part of Italy that I know very little about.

So that’s Sardinia, I thought…Vincenzo Mercurio’s Sardinia. A small part of an island that he shares with Cantina Poderosa. With a winery with whom he is able to experiment with Vermentino, Cannonau, Cagnulari, and Monica. Where at the foot of Mount Santu, in this fertile, volcanic territory, he can help to express a culture, traditions, and territory with others in a glass just as he did with me that afternoon….

 Where next, Vincenzo?

Puglia...let's go to Puglia...

Ok, Puglia it is...

next blog...:-)

Italian Version

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