Giovanna Chessa, Vermentino di Sardegna “Mattariga”
Giovanna Chessa, Vermentino di Sardegna “Mattariga”

Giovanna Chessa, Vermentino di Sardegna “Mattariga”

Sardinia, Italy 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$25.00

Giovanna Chessa, Vermentino di Sardegna “Mattariga”

This crisp and incredibly satisfying white offers express transport to the Mediterranean. Maybe you’ve already been there this summer and are dying to go back—if so, uncork a bottle of Giovanna Chessa’s “Mattariga.” Above all else, what this wine evokes is the enticing aroma of Mediterranean scrub-brush, known as macchia in Italian and garrigue in French—a riot of hardy, aromatic greenery that includes wild sage, fennel, lavender, thyme, and the like. When Sardinians make their classic porceddu (suckling pig), they stuff it with all these herbs and spit-roast it over fires fueled with myrtle and juniper twigs. And when you drink a Vermentino di Sardegna, you’re drinking a wine from vineyards surrounded by both the macchia and the sea. It’s all here in vivid detail, coming all the way from Northwestern Sardinia to your table for a mere $25. There’s no more perfect white wine to be drinking RIGHT NOW. Andiamo!

Vermentino, like the macchia growing alongside it, thrives in poor, rocky soils and hot, dry climates. We tend to think of white varieties as needing cooler weather to remain lifted and aromatic, but Vermentino proves otherwise; in terms of climate, Sardinia is perhaps better characterized as a mini-continent than an island, as some inland areas have more ‘continental’ conditions, but the typical growing season for Vermentino is very hot and very dry—Sardinian versions are typically more concentrated, even a little oily, in comparison to examples from coastal Tuscany and Liguria, where the variety also thrives.

The Vermentino di Sardegna DOC designation covers the entirety of Sardinia, whereas the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG growing zone is confined to the northeastern part of the island. Giovanna Chessa’s small, family-owned estate is up near Sassari, in the northwest, where her vines are rooted in limestone-rich soils (Gallura’s, by contrast, are very granitic). It’s well-documented throughout the wine world that limestone helps preserve acidity, and there is indeed plenty of enlivening freshness in the ’21 “Mattariga”—along with some of the mid-palate weight that Sardinian Vermentinos are famous for. It is fermented and aged only in stainless steel, spending about five months aging on its lees before bottling.

The wine shines a pale yellow-gold in the glass, with aromas of wildflower honey, white peach, green apple, assorted green herbs (thyme, mint, sage) and citrus rind, sensations that carry through to the medium-bodied palate. There’s more here than just light and zippy refreshment—the mid-palate is juicy and satisfying, with nice balancing acidity, and the finish brings hints of sea-spray salinity. One of the first food products I think of when I think of Sardinia is bottarga di muggine—cured mullet roe—which some people refer to as “poor man’s caviar.” This stuff, grated over pasta, is the essence of the Mediterranean Sea—salty and pungent in much the same way as this wine. Make this pairing happen; you’ll be so glad you did!

Giovanna Chessa, Vermentino di Sardegna “Mattariga”

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