Juighissa, dessert wine of Sardinia by Cantina della Vernaccia

May 18, 18 Juighissa, dessert wine of Sardinia by Cantina della Vernaccia

Sardinia. Honestly, I always got it confused with Sicily; an Italian island in the Mediterranean, has beaches and they make wine.

coming in for a landing

That was, until my most recent trip to the rugged island of Sardinia, where I discovered a beautiful landscape of granite mountains, verdant valleys, rolling hills, white sandy beaches with aquamarine waters – those we only saw in pictures but I’m certainly planning a visit in the summer, a long and proud winemaking tradition as well as an early Mediterranean history lesson.

pastoral scene

I was visiting as a guest of Legacoop, an organisation dedicated to showing the best of Sardinia. As well as wine, there was a cheese tour and a tour of the island’s tourist destinations.

But onto the wine. Our first stop was at Cantina della Vernacchia in the town of Oristano. They are a co-op and have historically been producers of Vernaccia but now their focus is more on Vermetino. They also produce wines made from Cannanau and a native red grape, Niederra. They currently have about 50 plus members.

wine hoses

the cantina

We tasted through their range and the wines are well made but I was most impressed by their dessert wine. Sardinia may not be known for the sweet wines but they do make some stellar examples. The co-op produces a dessert wine called ‘Juighissa’ which takes it name from an ancient queen of Sardinia. The wine is aged 9 years in barrel but it is not fortified. It’s made from vernacchia di oristano and naturally has a 17.5% natural alcohol content. The winemaker Roberto accompanied us on our tour and pulled some samples from the barrel for us.

cellar

barrel room

old fashioned barrel stop

winemaker, Roberto

straight from the barrel

The nose is very sweet on this wine but on the palate it is dry and nutty and with a slight tang to it. To me was reminiscent of dry oloroso. As a matter of fact, the wine develops a flor much like sherry. They say the wine can last 30-40 years but it probably wouldn’t lasts 3 – 4 days in my house!

Paired with almond biscuits, it was a delightful match. Not much gets exported but if you do find Juighissa, I definitely urge you to pick up a bottle.

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