Vernaccia: The giant of Oristano
An historic vertical tasting of Vernaccia Oristano Riserva Contini, a wine that is practically on the road to extinction.
During the 1970s, some giant and mysterious statues were discovered totally by chance near the Cabras pond. Careful and in-depth studies showed that the Giants of Mont’e Prama dated back to the 13th century BC. There is another “giant” in the area that deserves to be discovered, or better rediscovered: Vernaccia di Oristano. This is a so-called oxidized wine like Jerez Fino, Vin Jaune, Marsala, Madeira or Tuscan Vin Santo.
In the month of March, after the must has fermented, Vernaccia di Oristano is transferred into chestnut or oak barrels but not full. This technique, along with the particular microclimate and the presence of saccharomyces cerevisiaeyeast, creates a flor, a yellow-white film on the surface of the wine that protects it from excessive oxidation during the long and at times very long aging period.
This wine enjoyed great fame up until the 1970s and received high praise from Gino Veronelli and Mario Soldati. The following decade saw it fall into a slow and seemingly unstoppable decline. The over 2,200 hectares of vineyards used to make this wine fell in the new century to just over 200. This means that the wine was practically on the road to extinction. Fortunately, this trend in recent years would appear to have changed with a handful of producers (above all Davide Orro) and a small wine cooperative committed to saving this small treasure of Sardinian winemaking. There is a family that has been a part of all this wine’s history in good times and bad: the Contini family of Oristano. And it is not by chance that their winery is the only one that can offer a vertical tasting spanning almost 60 years.
All of the following wines matured in barrels for at least 15 years.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1995
A golden-yellow color and well-defined aromas of exotic fruit and citrus. The mouthfeel is meaty yet at the same time has great finesse and balance to express exuberant youth. The finish is flavorful, complex and very long.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1991
A golden-yellow color and an amazingly complex aroma with impetuous and whispered notes of spice, citrus, dates and Mediterranean shrubs. The structured mouthfeel has a surprising elegance and absolute consistency with a very long and captivating finish.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1990
A golden-yellow color with amber reflections and classic aromas that are less defined than the previous two vintages but with recognizable and delicate balsamic notes and those of saffron. The taut mouthfeel is vibrant and very fresh and any shortcomings do not hinder the allure and pleasure of this drop.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1986
A slightly amber color and well-defined bouquet of orange peel, dates and a slight hint of powdered coffee. The austere mouthfeel does not have a lot of structure but is balanced, elegant and fresh with a finish that has a nice persistence.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1984
A bright amber color and an impressive and unusually complex bouquet that is a kaleidoscope of Mediterranean scents: aromatic herbs, citrus, spice and exotic fruit as much as you could want. The juicy mouthfeel is perfectly intact, fresh, dynamic and vibrant with a finish that is literally explosive and endless.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1983
A bold, amber color with a slightly hesitant aroma with clear notes of spice and blond tobacco. The mouthfeel has a lithe yet slightly contracted structure with an agile and intact finish with a medium persistence.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1982
A bold, amber color and aromas of white pepper, citrus and dried fruit that accompany an austere yet pulpy, saline and very fresh mouthfeel. The progression is equally as impressive as its freshness and intrgrity and the finish is very long and flavorful.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1979
A bright, amber color and a bouquet of great complexity with notes of anise, aromatic herbs and white pepper. The mouthfeel ha an ineffable integrity and freshness and expresses a refined elegance that accompanies a dynamic and endless finish.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1974
A bold and bright amber color with fascinating scents of citrus, dried fruit and aromatic herbs. The mouthfeel has a full and solid structure of great vitality with a complex and fascinating finish that has an astounding “sweetness”. A wine with a thousand faces and endless aftertaste.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1971
A bright and dark amber color and an austere yet intact aroma of white pepper and dried fruit while the mouthfeel is simply perfect and expressive. The progression is pronounced and the finish deep and multifaceted.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1970
A bright and very dark amber color and a bouquet that is slightly ethereal with its notes of aromatic herbs and walnut husk. The austere mouthfeel is solid and efficiently dynamic with a long finish full of character and a slight nuance of dark chocolate.
Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva 1964
A bright date color. This almost 55-year-old wine left the whole group of lucky tasters astonish, including the producer. First of all because of the extremely distinct and irradiant scents of citrus, dried fruit and aromatic herbs. The mouthfeel had an amazing juiciness and freshness with a soft, meaty and warm progression towards a taut, flavorful and infinite finish. Pure emotion.