Carignano is a grape that one comes across fairly regularly in Priorat, usually in blends, but reaches its pinnacle I think in the hilly southwestern part of Sardinia, where it’s arguably the island’s most important red grape and usually used in monovarietal wines.  As everywhere, quality varies but top examples are really excellent.

2012 Cantina Santadi ‘Terre Brune’ Carignano del Sulcis.  Terre Brune is, I would argue, one of the two iconic red wines of Sardinia (alongside Turriga from Argiolas), made at the fantastic cooperative Cantina Santadi.  Among cooperatives, to my knowledge maybe only Produttori del Barbaresco and Cantina Terlano achieve such a position of prominence as a top-quality producer in their appellations.  It is a bit of a modern style, raised in new French oak barriques, and I usually find it needs at least a decade to shed the oaky sweetness and drink well. It will reach age 20 in stride but I wanted to try a young one with the other wines tonight.

Red fruit, coffee, a meaty note.  Very fragrant.  Youthful, but not primary like the others in the flight.  Oak is subdued.  Powerful attack, bright acid, deep minerally finish, excellent length.  It’s the first time I try this vintage and somehow they seem to have dialed down the barrique influence, to excellent effect.  Minerally, bit wild finish.  Really drinking well, getting even more fragrant and complex as it sits in the glass.  Striking wine. A superb showing.

2016 6 Mura Carignano del Sulcis Riserva.  I have enjoyed this wine (almost 100-year-old vines, no barriques) in previous vintages, but not tried one in some time.  I expected an infant and found one.  Very fragrant, billowing fresh sweet jammy raspberry.  Thick in the mouth, sweet attack, dark fruit, coffee, licorice.  Carries the impression of a lot of sweetness, very ripe, but not over-the-top – there is acid and tannin.  Needs a couple of years to settle down but will be very nice.

2016 Cantina Mesa ‘Buio Buio’ Carignano del Sulcis Riserva.  Another bottling that I’ve liked previously but not had lately.  Old vines, no new oak; I would regard as a direct peer of 6 Mura.  Darker register licorice, floral, sweet jammy berry nose.  No shrinking violet but this is a bit more subdued than the 6 Mura, not the same intensity and not quite at the level of the first two on the evening.

Nice wines all.  You can enjoy the 2016s if you like primary fruit, these are lick-your-face friendly wines.  But the standout here was the Terre Brune, really delivering more than I expected.  Beautiful wine, has the wow factor.