My perfect day in Gallura
by Costa Smeralda on Sep 16, 2015
My perfect day in Gallura
One of the world’s most popular holiday spots, Sardinia is a haven for those wanting an authentic food and wine experience.
Sardinia and its untouched beauty
Italy’s second largest island has striking landscapes with unspoiled, rocky coastlines giving way to rugged mountains still sparsely populated by shepherds and their sheep. Specifically, Gallura is not really an easy place for vines to grow: the rocky terrain is very uneven and the hillsides are covered thickly by ‘macchia mediterranea’.
Similar to English heath, the mix of indigenous plants here – including broom, euphorbia, holm-oak, buckthorn and myrtle – are able to survive Sardinia’s parched summers. It results in a fragrant, evergreen and impenetrable scrub. Many trees are also farmed for their cork (used in wine bottles) and wineries here range from small family affairs to large, successful cooperatives such as Cantina Giogantinu and Cantina Gallura that specialize in affordable and drinkable wines from the local area. All are open to visitors but appointments are strongly suggested.
Almost despite its coastal accessibility, the island remains closed and introspective at its heart. Yet in recent years Sardinia’s better wines have progressed from stubborn rusticity to a more open, modern approach. While the big reds of the south, such as Cannonau and Carignano, reflect the Spanish influence of the island’s past, the light-skinned white Vermentino has links to Liguria – where it is known as Pigato – and to the Tuscan coast.
‘Vermentino is the quintessential Mediterranean grape: it loves the sun, the sea and the wind, and it marries perfectly with fish, shellfish and seafood pastas,’ says Gravina. ‘Despite the region’s climatic extremes, well-made Vermentino di Gallura maintains freshness and acidity and often shows an attractive saline quality.’ Gallura’s stunning coastline, with its pristine, fjord-like bays and sandy beaches, is never far away from the vine-growing slopes.
Having been cultivated in Gallura since the 14th century, nowhere else does Vermentino express itself better than here (also known as the province of Olbia-Tempio), at the northeastern corner of Sardinia, where it’s made into Vermentino di Gallura DOCG. Its lively character and attractive citrus and floral notes – often with hints of ginestra, the local yellow broom flowers – keep it refreshing and dry.
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At Antica Dimora La Corona wake up to a breakfast of Sardinian pastries and sheep’s ricotta in a handsomely restored 18th-century house in the village of San Pantaleo. From there it’s a short drive across the hills to the 300-year old Capichera winery near Arzachena and Cudacciolu, run by Emanuele Ragnedda with his father and uncle. Make sure you visit the Giant’s Tomb, a stone megalith from Sardinia’s Nuragic Bronze Age civilization – more than 3,000 exist in Sardinia.
After tasting the wines and some local cold cuts, head down to Porto Cervo – full of cafés and designer shops – to have lunch in one of the Hotel Cervo’s restaurants, such as Il Pomodoro, which has the best pizza in the area. There are breezy sea views from the terrace, perfect for people-watching. After lunch, drive a few kilometers to Palau and take the boat around Isola della Maddalena National Park, an unspoiled, seven-island archipelago, close to southern Corsica.
Evening and dinner
In the late afternoon stop in at Vigne Surrau, east of Arzachena. This estate is impressive, with a modern building for tasting and buying wines, sampling local pecorino cheese and cold cuts as well as learning about winemaking. They produce five versions of Vermentino, including one sparkling and a sweet passito. Meals can be ordered in advance. After that aperitivo, drive west for 15 minutes to Agriturismo Tenuta Pilastru for dinner. The food is purely Sardinian.
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