Red Cannonau Wine is the Sardinian name for a grape variety you may already be familiar with. In France, it’s dubbed Grenache, while in Spain, the same grape is called Garnacha. In Sardinia, Italy, the DOC Cannonau di Sardegna (established in 1972) received its name largely because of the cannonau red wine grape variety. By law, cannonau wines produced within the Cannonau di Sardegna DOC must be 99% local cannonau.
More often than not, Cannonau ripens late, which lends to a higher sugar concentration within the grapes, and ultimately, a high alcohol content. It’s not uncommon to find wines with over 14.5% ABV.
While red cannonau grapes have been grown on Sardinia for centuries, DNA testing done on fossilized grape seeds found on the Italian island now show that they are likely native to Sardinia. It’s somewhat of an “upset” in the wine world, as it was previously thought that the Garnacha variety was native to Spain.
What does Red Cannonau Wine Taste Like?
As is often the case with French Grenache and Spanish Garnacha, Cannonau is a light to medium bodied, red and blue fruit forward red wine.
Because of the style of terroir throughout Cannonau di Sardegna, Cannonau here tends to have a bit more of a rustic tilt to it. Red cannonau wine will almost always have white spice notes to it. These are often backed by varying degrees of blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, strawberry and plum. Younger cannonau wines tend to have brighter, jammy fruit notes, while older varietal wines will be softer on the palate with more rounded spice and cobbler-esque fruit. Expect undertones of limestone and sandy minerals, with evidence of light tea leaf.
The Sardinians also craft Riserva versions of cannonau, which must be aged for a minimum of 2 years, with at least 6 months being within an oak barrel. These Riserva’s tend to have more prominent notes of strawberry, paprika and raspberry, while still maintaining a lighter body and viscosity.
Red Cannonau Wine is also found Fortified
Some Sardinian wine producers will also fortify their wines with added brandy, or versions of liquoroso. This will more often than not bring the alcohol content up near 20% ABV.