Why Cardedu is Essential
Cardedu may be one of the most peculiar entries on my Essential Winemakers list. The wines are made by Alberto Loi, a traditionalist winery in the rugged Sardinian province of Ogliastra. The main production line of wines — under the Alberto Loi moniker, which I have not yet sampled — are distributed internationally. Cardedu was intended to represent something different: the rustic wines of Sardinia’s past. Turns out, the international market wanted those, too, and for good reason.
There are only three wines — a Cannonau, Monica and Vermentino — which are exotic in their fruity tones yet transparent in their intentions: they want you to like them.
The star here is the Cannonau, a grape that is genetically identical to Grenache. If you are thinking of typical varietal Grenache, think again. The difference here is the judicious use of oak (part in large casks, part in concrete) and the restrained alcohol, which I think allows the varietal to stand in the spotlight and show off its mineral character. In fact, if Grenache had its alcohol kept in check like Loi does here, it would be one of my favorite wine grapes.
Many of the wines that reach our shore from Sardinia are Cannonau which deliberately skew to the international palate. Cardedu will make you say: to hell with that. Give me the “rustic” stuff.