Verona, March 2015 – Cannonau: origins, territory and market potential: These topics were discussed today during the Round Table titled „Cannonau: A Lifestyle Taste“ organized by the Sardinia Region in collaboration with Vinitaly and dedicated to this famous Sardinian wine.
Cannonau in 2013 recorded a growth in sales volumes of 17.2% compared to the previous year. An important result which ranks it among the most appealing emerging wines. As emphasized by the Councillor for Agriculture of the Sardinia Region, Elisabetta Falchi: „This is the ideal time for promoting quality production of this wine that for so many years has not received its due attention. Data indicate a growth trend for increasingly demanding consumers. We must follow this trend, starting from an analysis of our origins and our territory. This is the only way we can promote our wine.“ In this regard, Falchi also emphasised that the Expo showcase will also be an opportunity to promote activities involving incoming delegations and the international press, with invitations to visit Sardinia.
Starting from the current perception that the public in general – particularly on an international scale – has of Cannonau, the Round Table analysed strengths and weaknesses but especially the potential of this wine that must be promoted through its origin, environment and its unique intrinsic value.
As Giuseppe Carrus, moderator of the meeting and Gambero Rosso journalist, pointed out: „We must be able to explain how the wine and its local territory express the joy of life. When tasters visit territories, they breathe the air and must never forget what lies below and above ground, in addition to the people who live and work the land. Even modern wine-making involves all this. Cannonau must be better identified on a local area level because this grape variety is grown almost everywhere. We must talk about the territory, about all the various territories of Sardinia. Each area is quite different to all the others. It is a long journey that we must start today. I dream that there will no longer be any need in the future to mention the grape variety on the label; simply indicating where the product was made will decree its value.“
The Cannonau grape variety boasts an ancient history and the country of origin has often been debated. „The black grape most widely grown in the world and the most common around is Cannonau originating from Sardinia,“ said Giovanni Lovicu, Researcher at Agris Sardinia, the Regional Agency for Research in Agriculture. „This is supported by historical ampelographic aspects and molecular biology. There are also a great many clues that highlight the fact that Cannonau originated in Sardinia, while we have no evidence of its Spanish origin.“
Sardinia therefore boasts a great historical, cultural and environmental heritage than must be preserved and especially promoted. This thesis is also supported by Diego Tomasi, a Researcher at the Council for Research in Agriculture – Wine-Growing Research Centre, who says: „A wine also contains and enriches its own landscape. Cannonau is impregnated with its local territory. It has little in common with other wines and this is also confirmed genetically.“
Sardinia has a very rich biodiversity. Its vineyards create an ever-changing landscape that is also linked with soil morphology. Landscapes are the synthesis between physical aspects – natural or determined by human work – and emotional aspects – the moods and sensations it arouses. All these elements are found and combined in wine. Since vines not only create landscapes but also embody them.
Tomasi also says that „a wine associated with a landscape is always considered better than an anonymous wine of a similar level. Inasmuch, the landscape becomes a strategic element in promoting quality wines.“
Giovanni Pinna, a representative of Assoenologi Sardinia, tackled wine-making issues by emphasising „how the Cannonau grape variety enjoys a very strong bond with the region, to the extent that it is known as Cannonau di Sardegna. Vineyards in Sardinia represent 4% of the territory, with an area of almost 8,000 hectares dedicated to Cannonau, grown 66% in the province of Nuoro on land descending from the hillsides down to the plains and as far as the coast.“
The generally shared opinion is that Cannonau di Sardegna can play an important role not only in the regional landscape, but nationally and internationally. It may well become „a different drink“, not standardised, with a strong identity and great local area expression. A local territory that encompasses the values of an entire region: culture, history, religion, food and quality of life. As Maurizio Memo, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Brescia, said: „What we eat or drink must help our well-being. And even the environment can affect our moods. A positive mood helps combat disease and improve the quality of our lives. Good wine, good environment and quality of life help us stay healthy. And also live longer.“
An interesting analysis of how Cannonau is perceived outside Italy was presented by Jo Ahearne, wine-maker and Master of Wine. „There is considerable confusion abroad about what Cannonau really is,“ said Ahearne; „many people do not know the origin of this wine, not to mention those who have never even heard of it. The main tourist guides in British publications make no reference to wine production in Sardinia, with the exception of a few cases which nonetheless are rather superficial. The product is not promoted. There is little information on the internet and it is mostly in Italian. There is no knowledge of the grape variety, almost no one realises that it is a „grenache“. Buyers do not think about Cannonau, consumers will not find it on the shelves and are not intrigued by it.“
Ahearne continues: „In my experience, unfortunately, wine-makers themselves do not know how to promote their products in the best possible way. Cannonau has many positive and unique aspects that must be exploited, first of all the territory of origin.“
The meeting ended with a presentation by Clelia Tore, of the Laore Sardinia Agency, of the book „The lands and vineyards of Cannonau di Jerzu“ which highlights the methods, knowledge, studies and history of this specific area. „Sardinia has many ecosystems that must be preserved. This book seeks to explain specific character of an excellence wine and its strong bonds with a specific territory. It has an informative angle and avoids technicalities to stimulate a desire to browse the book by people who are not experts.“
At the end of the meeting, there was a tasting of Cannonau di Sardegna presented by Andrea Balleri, the best sommelier in Italy in 2013.