Cheers to longevity

Sar­dinian wine may hold key to a long life

Life & Style Weekend - - TASTE - WINE With Travis Schultz

CAN­NONAU di sardegna may be earn­ing its fame as the longevity grape from Sardinia but for all the touted health ben­e­fits it of­fers, it is a re­mark­ably palat­able drop. The “it’s good for you” spin may be the work of clever lo­cal mar­ke­teers but what is be­yond doubt is the tiny is­land of Sardinia in the Tyrrhe­nian Sea has one of the world’s high­est con­cen­tra­tions of cen­te­nar­i­ans on the planet. In fact, on Sardinia, the pop­u­la­tion of 1.61 mil­lion peo­ple have more than 370 (at last count) who are over one hun­dred years of age. This means on the tiny au­ton­o­mous is­land re­gion of Italy you are at least 20 times more likely to live to the age of 100, than if you live in the US. While no one re­ally knows the se­cret to Sar­dinian longevity, it is widely be­lieved the lo­cal diet and lifestyle is a key con­trib­u­tor to their long life ex­pectancy. These Sar­dinian lo­cals are gen­er­ally ac­tive, work well be­yond 65, eat a lot of grains and veg­eta­bles and very lit­tle meat. Per­haps also of sig­nif­i­cance is the fact that on most days, they en­joy a cou­ple of glasses of their lo­cal wines. The fava beans and chick­peas are typ­i­cally washed down by a glass of the can­nonau di sardegna, which is the lo­cal name for grenache. In fact, some re­search sug­gests the grenache grape may have orig­i­nated in Sardinia, rather than France. The can­nonau style ac­counts for about 20% of all wine made on the is­land and in or­der to meet the DOC cri­te­ria must have a min­i­mum al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion of 13% and be aged for at least two years prior to re­lease. The hot, arid cli­mate on the is­land is per­fectly suited to grow­ing grenache and the can­nonau grapes in par­tic­u­lar, as they have a very thick and hard outer skin. It is this same sub­stan­tial outer layer that im­parts the an­tiox­i­dants that are thought to con­trib­ute to the health value of the wine – mainly be­cause the skin is high in car­diac-friendly an­tiox­i­dants an­tho­cyanins and polyphe­nols. A de­li­cious ex­am­ple of the style is the Costera Can­nonau di Sardegna Ar­gi­o­las 2014 ($38), which I had to or­der from a Mel­bourne im­porter. It’s rather ruby-es­que in the glass and de­liv­ers nu­ances of cloves and bram­ble on the nose. Once the whiff­ing is done, lay­ers of sweet blue­ber­ries and stewed plums present them­selves across the palate. I am a lit­tle sur­prised the tan­nic in­flu­ence is so rel­a­tively mod­er­ate given the skin con­tact and the liquorice and cran­berry char­ac­ters can over­come the savoury mid­dle and evolve through the fin­ish. I’d de­scribe it as be­ing of only medium-palate weight but it is a wine that is thor­oughly ap­proach­able in its youth and I’m con­fi­dent the tan­nins will soften with time. So if you are a be­liever in the Sar­dinian story and want to drink your way to long life, this may well be the wine for you – and pos­si­bly even jus­tify a tip­ple on what would oth­er­wise be one of those mid­week al­co­hol-free days. Travis is a Sun­shine Coast busi­ness­man with a pas­sion for food and wine.

THE OUTER LAYER OF THE CAN­NONAU GRAPE IS HIGH IN AN­TIOX­I­DANTS

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