~ The entrance to Cantina Punica ~

What do you get when you combine Giacomo Tachis, Tenuta San Guido, Cantina Santadi and the unique terroir of Sardinia?

Answer: A joint venture called Agricola Punica and repeated Tre Bicchieri awards!

In 2002, Agricola Punica purchased 370 acres divided between two sites: Barrua and Narcao, located in the southwest region of Sardinia. Even though the vineyards are situated in the DOC Carignano Del Sulcis area, the wines fall under the I.G.T. Appellation of Isola dei Nuraghi, a name that refers to the ancient stone buildings erected by the Nuragic civilization which shaped the island’s development until 238 B.C. when Sardinia was brought under the Roman Empire.

Today, Punica’s  65 hectares of vineyards lay inland from the coast and are comprised of Carignano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.

~ Vineyards of Argicola Punica ; visible are the scrub bushes and the whiteness of the soil, replete with sand from the ocean ~

Today we’re discussing the flagship wine of the Punica estate; Barrua.   I can easily understand how wine lovers may have an issue with this wine.  I would happily refer to it as a “Super Sardinian” because I think it’s easily among the best Sardinian wines I’ve had from the island.  The trouble is, what does Sardinian terroir represent? What should a great Sardinian wine taste like?  The island is enormous and is Italy’s third largest region after Sicily and Piedmont.  As such, the terrain varies widely from desert, to snow peaked mountains and sandy vineyards. I’ve got only a working knowledge of wineries on the island; Pala, Punica and Argiolas.  Yet all three have impressed.  Cannonau is probably the islands most widely planted and widely known grape.  Therefore, perhaps its absence in a premium wine is somewhat atypical. I can understand the criticism from some who may feel this wine is “international” but I have none to give. So I’ll leave it at that and entertain your thoughts in the comment section.

Barrua relies predominantly on Carignano which contributes 85% to the blend along with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot.  Vinified in stainless steel, Barrua is aged for 18 months in French barrique, only 30% of which are new and then bottle aged for at least 12 months before release.  We did not decant the wine, however I opened it about 45 minutes before dinner.

The 2011 Punica Barrua is a deep ruby color that lightens toward the rim of the bowl almost reminiscent in appearance to an aged Sangiovese.  Offering bountiful aromas of red flowers, crushed plums, melted licorice, rosemary and leather, this complex array of scents portends a wonderful tasting experience and it delivers.

Crushed black plum fruit is silky and long on the palate which is accented with leather, fennel and other wild herb flavors.  It’s ripe and round but fresh and lively. Nothing here is overdone.  It was absolutely delicious with the tomatoes and reggiano that you see, but equally impressive with agnolotti with a lamb ragu.  After dinner, it was interesting enough to be enjoyed by itself.  Given the quality, it’s a value around $45 and easily something I would buy again.  94 points.  Find this wine.

~ Barrua is an interesting blend and perhaps a Sardinian benchmark? ~


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