Written by Nick Beck
Photography by Ram Shergill
The second largest Mediterranean island and one of the largest wine producing Italian regions, seems to have found itself disconnected from the mainstream commercialisation of Italian goods imported into the UK. Often mistaken for Sicily, Sardinia has a rich culture of its own which goes well beyond the super yachts docked in the glamorous Porto Cervo and it is beyond the rocky coastline where the real hidden gems of this island can be found.
Life in Sardinia is simple, humble and relaxed, which is probably why the island boasts one of the highest world averages of people living into their 100s and specifically in the area Ogliastra, over 110. Historically, they were not fishermen, in fact scared of the sea and lived off the land working in agriculture as farmers (especially goat and sheep) – and wine production, which is where I get very excited!
Touring Sardinia visiting small, family run vineyards, like Vini Mura who have never exported their wines to the UK before was a wonderful experience. I could not have done it without the help of my friend Pierfranco Lavra, not just because of the language barrier but the difficulty of travelling around this rugged landscape with varying climates and altitudes.
The result was visiting vineyards well off the beaten track and in some cases, there wasn't even a track! I wanted to bring back these locally produced wines created with flair and originality by winemakers more interested in quality over quantity so that others can experience them as well. Once the exclusive wines of discerning locals, I wanted to import some of these gems and make them available in the UK.
I was in awe of the respect shown to the Vermentino grape, especially in the Gallura region, as often this grape variety is mass produced for high volume, low quality wine and it didn't take very long for me to fall in love with Cannonau as the Sardinian's seemed to have mastered the production of this rich variety.
Nick Beck is a London based wine specialist, merchant and creative offering private wine tastings and special Sardinian and German wines. He works directly with smaller wine producers abroad, imports the wines and develops very particular label designs with artists in the UK. In so doing, he creates bottle designs that are as characteristic as the wines themselves - a sensible approach that is not only pleasant to the eye but enhances the experience of enjoying wine.
Visit www.grapejuicewines.com for more information.