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London Calling | Published DoctorWine N°14
Bosa: a lost treasure
by Luigi Buonanno 03-12-2011

Bosa is one of the many hidden treasures of Italy. It is a little city that lies on the center of the West coast of Sardinia.
The Malvasia from this city is something absolutely wonderful. It tells the story of this city and of this side of Sardinia which is often forgotten. It is an ancient city and the day to day living is very traditional. The Malvasia is a symbol of friendship, a way to meet up with a friend after work before going home for dinner and a way to welcome guests.
I have heard about Malvasia di Bosa quite a few times and have been very curious to learn more about this supposed little miracle.
The city lies on the right hand side of the river Temo and on the mountainside of Serravalle where you will find the Castle of Malaspina. The population is about 8000, everybody knows each other and the cordiality is extremely warm.
Here you can eat the most amazing fish caught by local fishermen from sea bass and sea bream to the most delicious snapper and John Dory. Then there is bottarga (botargo) the Sardinian caviar, which is the roe pouch of tuna or grey mullet, dried and cured in sea salt until it becomes completely dry and quite firm in texture. The best way to enjoy it is sliced and served with buttered toast or you can sprinkle it over spaghetti with garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
Sardinia is also known for its cheese and you can indulge in the most exquisite sheep’s milk cheese and Treccia di Sindia (the neighbouring city that produces this particular twisted mozzarella). Meat is also dominant with the famous porcetto (roasted suckling pig often aromatized with juniper and mirto)
I would also strongly recommend a visit to Mangiaimbuto, a restaurant managed by two brothers Andrea and Aldo that has a very short menu using only the freshest ingredients.
The bread is homemade and the wine list 100% Sardinian and is divided equally between white and red where there is of course Malvasia.

I think that in order to talk about this wine it is also very important to talk about perfumes.
I believe it is one of the most important aspects than cannot be overlooked because it is crucial to understanding the wine itself. The air that you breathe in this part of Sardinia is particular as you can smell the Mediterranean (Macchia Mediterranea). The West coast of Sardinia is absolutely amazing, and the vegetation is rich in Juniper berries (most gin distilleries prefer to use Italian juniper in their distillation because of the high quality and the finesse in the aromas) and mirto – from which is produced the regional after dinner liqueur of the same name. The other two plants that complete the range of aromas of Macchia Mediterranea are Lentisco (wild lentils) and olivastro (wild olive bush).

The Malvasia itself is an extraordinary grape variety; it grows almost everywhere in the Mediterranean regions, but only a few places offer these unique sensations. It is easier to understand what this grape variety can provide if you have the opportunity to visit this place.
It is a grape variety that creates a wine that expresses the terroir in its several different aspects. The Malvasia di Bosa describes exactly what is Bosa, what is the Planargia, what greenery covers the West coast of Sardinia – all of this is gathered in a single glass of wine.
Often you remain unable to put into words what is happening in your mouth when you taste this nectar.
From when you first put the wine in your mouth until you swallow it you keep wondering whether the wine is sweet or dry. The sensation of sweetness that covers the palate is deceiving because the finish is elegantly bitter. This sweet bitterness is the real charm of this wine.
The feeling is like watching a magician performing a trick and trying to understand how he eludes the crowd.

On the last day of my trip I went to visit the Silvano Chelo delicatessen. The owner –Silvano- knew I had gone there for the Malvasia and after chatting a bit about what this wine really means for the people he went to the back of the shop and came out with a small glass of Malvasia. I do not drink in the morning – he said – it is too early for me, but if you do not mind I really want to let you taste our Malvasia. I could not have been happier! So do you produce Malvasia? I asked. To which he replied: we used to but not anymore. I have some ’94 left but it is the last vintage that I have. He explained to me that his family was producing Malvasia, but for many reasons they do not produce it anymore even if they still own a vineyard.
The twinkling amber nectar showed a wonderful concentration in the glass. The nose was engaging: offering notes of dates and walnut, a bit of prune and bees wax, sea breeze, myrtle, the finish reminds you of liquorice. The palate is velvety, the sweet bitter sensation wraps around the palate, good acidity and a wonderful bitter hued. After I had tasted the wine Silvano asked me: what do you smell in there? To which I replied: A bit of dates, bees wax, and liquorice on the tail. To which he responded: good, but what you smelt is not liquorice. So I sniffed the empty glass again and what seemed to be liquorice in the first instance was something similar but a bit more floral than liquorice. What is that? I asked. To which he responded: it is a typical bush from this part of Sardinia, this is Helichrysum. I had smelt the same perfume a couple of days before when I was on the beach and had thought it was a wild plant of liquorice, but now everything was clear.
I showed Silvano a picture that I took of the plant and he confirmed that it was the bush we were talking about. Recognizing an aroma in a wine seems to be hard but is only an olfactory memory.
A lot of people listening to a couple of notes can recognize a song; this is due to training and memory.
The Helichrysum is without doubt one of the characteristics of this wine.
As a souvenir I bought two other Malvasia that also deserve to be highlighted. These are two different great expressions of the same terroir and both give justice to this part of Italy often forgotten.

Malvasia di Bosa
Malvasia di Bosa Doc
Giovanni Battista Columbu

Rating » 92
Category » Sweet White
Region » Sardegna
Country » Italy

Euro 29,00

Giovanni Battista Columbu produces his Malvasia from its vineyard in Magomadas, he is one of the most important producers of Malvasia di Bosa and his wine shows a wonderful shiny amber colour, oxidized notes, walnut, bees wax and dry prune with an elegant perfume of dry Helichrysum. The palate is magical. The sweetness of the dry fruit is followed by a juicy acidity with the long bitter and floral notes of Helichrysum.

Malvasia di Bosa
Malvasia di Bosa Doc
Emidio Oggianu

Rating » 89
Category » Sweet White
Region » Sardegna
Country » Italy

Euro 22,50

Emidio Oggianu inherited his vineyard in 1968. He has been dedicated to this wine since he was very young. His Malvasia shows a golden yellow colour. The nose offers dry apricot, sea breeze, fresh Helichrysum. The palate is savoury, round, very smooth with the sweet dry apricot that gives way to a great slightly bitter finish. The progression of different sensations - savoury, sweet and bitter gives to this wine great balance and good length.

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