Isola dei Nuraghi and a Market Meal

My friend Maria – a fellow wine lover – knows that I adore great and less-common wines and so sent me a very wonderful and eclectic box-full as a wedding present.  I cannot wait to try them all, and I already started with the rich, smooth, and figgy Lustau “Abocado” Oloroso.

1855_Colton's_Map_of_Southern_Italy,_Sicily,_Sardinia_and_Malta_-_Geographicus_-_ItalySouth-colton-1855Among the many other wines to catch my attention was the 2009 Agricola Punica “Barrua” Isola dei Nuraghi IGT from Sardegna.   “Isola dei Nuraghi” sounds awfully exotic and, well, it kind of is.  The term is the name for the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) covering the entirety of the Sardegnan Islands  (center-left on Colton’s 1855 map).   It is translated “Isle of the Nuraghi”, which only helps if you know that “Nuraghi” are an ancient type of stone structure found on Sardegna, built between roughly 1500 – 800 BC.   These are truncated-cone towers made with corbelled, dressed stone,
and SONY DSCwith vaulted interiors (left);  they are considered to be defensive towers.  Inhabitants of Sardenga at that time were proficient metal-workers (see the “navicelle” below), which undoubtedly was cause for peaceful merchant-contacts , as well as more aggressive intrusions.




The Nuraghi have lent their name to many Sardegnan specialities, and  I have just started to carry a white wine at Jet Wine Bar made from the Nuraghus (singular of Nuraghi) grape.  Ironically, the Nuraghus grape is only used in a small percentage of Isola dei Nuraghi IGT white wines; Nasco and Vermentino are more common. The grape, itself, may have been introduced by Phoenician merchants, or their Carthaginian successors.  The latter were more bellicose than the former, prompting upgrades to the Islands’ defensive schemes, and leading to the elaboration of Sardegna’s most complete complex of Nuraghi, the UNESCO site Su Nuraxi di Barumini.

P1030314 Located roughly 100km south of Barumini near the southern tip of Sardegna is Agricola Punica, which brings us back to the subject at hand – the “Burrua” wine.   It is a red wine made mostly of Carignan0 – both “old” and “new” vine – as well as a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Merlot.  Handpicked grapes are fermented in stainless steel, and the wine is oak-aged for 18 months and bottle aged for 12 months before release.  The result is a rich wine with ripe black-cherry, wild herbs, and a soft, velvety mouth-feel.  At the same time, this is an elegant wine; the flavors are nuanced and the body is not “heavy”.  There is ample concentration and structure in this wine for a strongly-flavored, substantial meal.  With hindsight, I would have opted for a meal of roasted lamb.  Instead, we paired it with calamari and pasta.

Saturday is my farmer’s market day in Rittenhouse Square (aka one of America’s “Great Public Spaces“.  Farm to City brings purveyors of all manner of fruits, veggies, meats, fermented goods, the “mushroom man”, and fish!  While I simply can’t eat celery from anyone other than Z Food Farms, my favorite vendor is “Shore Catch”, who transport fresh fish to Philly from the Jersey Shore.  Lately we’ve been enjoying their cleaned squid – which sells for $11/lb.  I found beautiful kale at Z Food Farms, and went to Di Bruno for some fresh spaghetti.  As always, Evan cooked it all beautifully.