Octopus with Terre Rare Carignano Del Sulcis Reserva 2014 

Whilst in Northern Sardinia, I have been learning about Sardinian red and white grape varieties. In Sardinia, two common red wine grape varieties are Cannonau and Carignano. Carignano Del Sulcis Reserva 2014 is produced from the red grape Carignano, a common Spanish grape known as Cariñena in Spain. The strong connection to Spain, rather than Italy of Sardinia surprised me but I have learnt about the Spanish influence on the town of Alghero on the North West of Sardinia and this is where the Spanish influence comes from.

The Carignano grape produces wine that can be high in tannins. For this reason, I searched the hotel wine list for a cuvée (blend) and chose Carignano Del Sulcis Reserva 2014 because it was blended with Merlot, a softer grape variety which, I considered would render the wine easy drinking rather than reliant on food to soften the tanins. The Carignano grapes ripen late resulting in wines with a high alcohol volume and Carignano Del Sulcis Reserva 2014 is 14.5% alcohol volume.

In the glass the colour was bright ruby. The 14.5% alcohol volume was witnessed in the fantastic legs, which were reflected in the wine as it shimmered in the beautiful Sardinian evening sunshine. The nose was fairly muted at first, probably because the wine had not been decanted but on smelling the cork, I detected raspberries. A good start! After giving the wine some oxygen for 30 seconds, which is quite a while when a waitress is waiting for you to taste the wine, I was pleased with my choice. On the palate was raspberry with a slight bitterness of grape skins and cranberries. After a few sips it settled on my palate and reminded me of a juicy Pinot Noir. I needn’t have eaten as the wine slipped down beautifully without food.

During the day, I had studied the evening menu as well as the wine menu in an attempt to find a good food and wine match. The first course was Octopus and Taccola (an Italian green bean) served in a delicious tomato sauce. The match was perfect. The green bean was crisp and sweet and the tomato sauce lacked acidity and so complimented the wine superbly. The second course was Moussaka and this was another wonderful match. The third course was Strigoli,  mushrooms and cheese fondue. Strigoli are ‘pasta worms’. The dish was cooked in a deep pan, like a wok with copious amounts of olive oil thrown in, then the pasta and mushrooms were tossed in the rich cheese sauce. This food was ‘earthy’ and a great match with the wine.

All in all a wonderful evening of food and wine rounded off with a glass of sweet Moscato di Tempo and Cannoncini, a small cream horn.

The Carignano Del Sulcis 2014 cost €30 but bear in mind that wine in hotels has a high mark up. The beautiful coastal location of this hotel, perched on the cliff top with the sea a hundred metres away is worth paying extra for. This wine is available online in the U.K for £15.

The Mosdcato di Tempo cost €7 per glass.

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Read my wine and food column in the Bournemouth Echo, first Saturday of each month.