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Cannonau Wine: An Expert’s Guide To Its Historic Influences

6 Mins read
Cannonau wine glass of wine cheese

Cannonau wine, or Cannonau di Sardegna, is a historic Italian wine that has been around for centuries. Many wine historians claim that Spain was the country of origin of the Sardinian grape variety, which is known for its rich flavor and intense aroma. In this article, we will explore its history and will discuss its basic characteristics.

The Origins Of This Sardinian Wine

This type of wine derives from the magnificent island of Sardinia, Italy. Sardinia belongs to Italy and has established a dynamic economic environment with a tradition in the agricultural sector. As a matter of fact, viticulture has always covered a significant portion of the Sardinian economy, as numerous grape varieties have sprung throughout the years.

Cannonau remains, until today, the most planted variety of the remarkable Italian island.

Its genetic similarity with the Spanish grape variety of Grenache is uncanny and has sparked one of the most controversial conundrums of the Wine Universe: Are these two grape varieties the same or not?

The answer is negative, but the two grapes’ origin is no longer obscure. The Spanish conquest of Sardinia during the 16th century significantly shaped the cultural status quo of the island and brought forth milestones and wonders that remain.

One of these wonders is the Cannonau grape variety.

The Cannonau grape is a variety of Grenache and produces well-balanced, full-bodied wines that are high in tannins with floral and fruity aromas. Grenache and Cannonau are linked due to their genetic similarity, courtesy of the Spanish conquerors of the 16th century. Nevertheless, the domestication in the climate of Sardinia led to the evolution of the Cannonau grape to one of the most prolific and distinctive grape varieties worldwide.

Where does Cannonau wine come from?

Cannonau grapes are indigenous to Sardinia, Italy, due to their tendency to grow on the south-facing hillsides of the Mediterranean Sea lands. The Mediterranean climate, the rugged landscape, the unique geological traits, and the lush vegetation surrounding the vineyards of Sardinia are the predominant reasons behind the winemaking expansion of the island.

The vines of Sardinia cover more than 40,000 hectares, and the Cannonau grape predominantly proliferates in the northern and eastern parts of the island. Namely, the municipalities of Oliena, Orgosolo, Castiatas, San Vito, and Jerzu are well-known for their substantial production of Cannonau wine.

Vineyard field and Cannonau wine.

What is Cannonau wine?

Most of the Cannonau wines are characterized as Cannonau Di Sardegna DOC. DOC is the abbreviation of Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which stands for ‘Designation of Controlled Origin’. The latter is a legal term to declare that a product derives from local harvest or ingredients.

Italy boasts 330 different DOCs, with many types of wine being present on this prestigious list. The wines on this list have certain specifications, such as maximum harvest yield, age requirements, and the permitted grape varieties.

The permitted grape varieties for the wine of Cannonau are Cannonau variety in percentages of 90-100 % and other local red grape varieties. Any discrepancy from these requirements means the wine cannot be labelled authentic Cannonau.

The authentic Cannonau wines are divided into the following types:

In a broader sense, Cannonau wine is a type of red wine that comes in both dry and sweet varieties. Cannonau wines typically have intense aromas and flavors, with notes of black fruit, spices, and herbs. Cannonau wines can range from light to full-bodied and are often aged in wood barrels to develop complex characteristics within the liquid.

Furthermore, it mainly contains tannin, glycerine, organic acids, and alcohol (generally 13%), and its colour varies from dark ruby to deep purple, depending on the ageing process. Also see our guide on Barolo wine.

How is this Sardinian wine made?

It is made by fermenting the Cannonau grape juice with yeast. The yeast converts the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol, and the resulting wine has an alcohol content of around 14-16%. Cannonau wine is well-balanced, produced by harvesting Cannonau grapes and then fermenting the juice.

The wine is then aged in oak barrels for several months, and this ageing process contributes to the complexity of Cannonau’s flavor profile. The Cannonau grape is thick-skinned, so it produces a rich and hearty wine. The ageing process also helps to soften tannins and bring out Cannonau’s complex aromas of blackberry, wild cherry, tobacco leaf, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Fermentation of Cannonau wine typically occurs in stainless steel tanks. Cannonau grapes are delicate and contain high levels of tannins, so maceration is usually done in a shorter time than other red wines. It also depends on grapes grown traditionally. You can also see our guide to find out how much sugar in red wine.

After the wine of Cannonau has fermented, it is aged in oak barrels for at least 12 months. This ageing process gives a rich and intense flavor.

What does Cannonau wine taste like?

It is a deep-colored fruity wine with strawberry aromas layered with delicate floral notes and a hint of white pepper. This wine is rich in moderate to high amounts of alcohol (depending upon the style described above), moderate acidification, and mild tannins.

How should I drink this Sardinian wine?

It is best enjoyed slightly chilled to bring out its delicate flavor notes. Cannonau has a full body and powerful fruity flavors. The wine has intense aromas of wild berries, cherry, plum, blackberry, and dried herbs. Moreover, the organic acids bestow the Cannonau wines with the perfect amount of acidity to succumb deeper into these enchanting Sardinian wines.

Is Cannonau wine sweet or dry?

Cannonau wine is a red wine that is produced on the island of Sardinia. It is made from the cannonau grape, which is a clone of the grape vines that are found in other parts of Italy. The cannonau grape is known for its high sugar content, and as a result, cannonau wines tend to be on the sweeter side. In addition, cannonau wines are typically higher in alcohol than other red wines. However, there are also dry cannonau wines that have been aged for a longer period of time. These wines tend to have more complex flavor profiles and may taste more like traditional Italian red wines. Ultimately, the sweetness of cannonau wine depends on the specific wine that you are tasting.

What do you think about Cannonau Wine?

Do you like Cannonau wine? I do. It has a rich flavor and intense aroma that is sure to please any palate. Not only is it delicious, but Cannonau wine is also historic. This wine has been around for centuries, and Wine Historians claim that Spain was the country of origin of the Sardinian grape variety. If you haven’t tried Cannonau wine yet, I highly recommend you do so soon. You won’t be disappointed!


What foods pair well with Cannonau wine?

Cannonau has a high content of polyphenols, which gives Cannonau wine its distinctive texture and taste as well as antioxidant properties. Therefore, Cannonau wines can be served at room temperature or slightly chilled and pair excellently with red meats, Italian cheeses, roasted vegetables, and other Mediterranean dishes. Dark chocolate could also be a great option for desert-inspired combinations.

How long does Cannonau wine last?

It has a longer shelf life than most other red wines. It typically lasts up to two years after the harvest, although some Cannonau wines can last up to five years. Cannonau wines should be stored in a cool and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Is Cannonau wine the healthiest type of Sardinian wine?

A bottle of wine of Cannonau may offer several health benefits due to its high levels of polyphenols and other antioxidants. The content of such a bottle has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Cannonau is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.

Is Cannonau wine sweeter than red wines?

It is not much sweeter than other wines, such as red wine, but it can be depending on the style of Cannonau produced. Cannonau wines are typically dry and smooth in texture, with high levels of tannin that give the wine a slightly bitter taste. Cannonau wines can have some sweetness, especially the sweet Cannonau wines, which have residual sugar ranging from 0,6-3 %.

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