Italian Sideways 2006 – Day 12
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Easter week though, the island is still fairly uninhabited by the summer hordes. The part-time residents, like our friends, the Maselli's, will arrive later in the month. Raffaele in fact, will arrive the evening of April 18, a few hours after we leave, to get the house and garden ready for their stay throughout summer. They don't mind much the crowd and would rather escape the humid summer of Emilia Romagna, which contributes greatly to the production of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, back in the attic of their mainland home. In addition, they have many friends among the fairly large community of Emilians who have set up summer residence in this part of the island.
Our new friend, Eugenio, shows up before 10 to introduce me to Richard Paulis, a Sardinian native who emigrated to Ontario, Canada with the family when he was a toddler, but returned to the island with his son eight years ago and set up shop renting and selling summer homes, villas, apartments and vacation packages in San Teodoro.
Richard is a nice guy and offers me the use of a computer in his office to check my e-mail, which I haven't done since I left California almost two weeks ago, with the exception of a quick peek the first day of the Vinitaly show in the press room, but given the little time that I had and the over 1,500 messages already sitting there in my main mail box, I promptly reclosed and postponed to a better moment.
After a quick lunch snack, Brigit and I hit the road to play tourist, but end up in the Sassari area, not far from the Cantina Vitivinicola Romangia di Sorso e Sennori, last month's WineCountry.IT Winery of the Month, so we decide to drop in unannounced for a surprise visit.
When we arrive, there is nobody at the winery, but a customer waiting for the person in charge to return from the lunch break. We call the cell phone number written on the facade of the newly repainted office building and speak with Signor Gianmario Sirca, the cellar master of the winery, who says that he will be at the winery in five minutes.
A few minutes later, signor Marino Dessole, president of the winery, arrives, accompanied by a friend who consults with the local administration's agricultural council, and soon after we are joined by signor Sirca.
They give us the tour of the winery, showing us the bottling facility and the under-construction reception center with wine-sale facility included. We taste the new Cannonau La Marina from the vat, which shows great potential, with strong fruit and jammy flavor which will be enhanced by a year in barrique which will come next.
The special yummy taste of the Cannonau La Marina comes from the fact that the grapes come exclusively from 70-plus-year old vineyards cultivated on sandy soil very close to the water. The old vines are cultivated on alberello (small tree) style vines, which here means less than a foot and a half tall, and produce just one bunch per vine. The result is a truly superior strong wine which is sure to please the connoisseur looking for a honest, fruity, palatable wine.
We taste also a new batch from selected grapes which will become the first Cannonau Riserva produced by the winery. We are looking forward to savoring this product once it completes its ageing in barriques and refinement in bottles. We bet that it will be a pleasant experience.
In addition, we taste the winery's Monica di Sardegna, made with a grape native to the island which ripens fairly late and that is produced exclusively here in the northern part of Sardinia, where, thanks to the extreme high summer temperature of this northeastern corner of the island, the grapes are able to reach complete maturity. The wine is simpler and lighter than the Cannonau, and pairs well with pasta, vegetarian dishes and some seafood recipes.
We close the tasting with two batches of the delicious dessert wine Moscato di Sorso Sennori from the barrel. Both very good, we find the first offering to have stronger perfume typical of the Moscato grape and note that it shows more sugar to the palate, while the second has a more complex perfume and a mouth-filling flavor. Brigit and I are split among the the two, and agree that both would be perfect with a variety of desserts, from crunchy biscotti to creamy, caramely flan.
Before heading home, we decide to revisit Castelsardo, an incredible village-fortress built on a peak overlooking the ocean. We arrive in the small square of the Santa Maria Cathedral at the end of a procession in which a live-size statue of the Christ has been taken down from the cross and deposited in a casket and the cross itself hung from a wall inside the church.
Walking away from the church we pass in front of a house set up as a 'five star hotel for cats', as the Swiss native who runs it calls it. The man has been living here for 40 years and has been housing stray cats, taking care of them and finding homes for them all over Europe, sometimes in conjunction with the organization that Brigitte Bardot works with.
We arrive home at around 8pm and have a tasty simple meal with pane carassau seasoned with salt and rosemary sauteed in olive oil, salad and a tasty lentil soup Brigit prepared earlier in the day while I was visiting with Richard. The meal is accompained by the red wine Abbaía, an IGT Colli del Limbara with 12% alcohol produced by the Cantina di Gallura.