Cantina Santa Maria La Palma

An Afternoon Tasting of Cantina Santa Maria La Palma Wines at Sfoglia NYC


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“The tone was set by candle light flickers on the barren wine glasses. The stucco ceiling complimented the lavish chandeliers while the Sardinian wine accent permeated the atmosphere” – D.N.

On a Tuesday afternoon, myself and fellow wine enthusiast’s attended a Sardinian wine tasting event held in NYC at an Upper East Side Italian restaurant called Sfoglia. We were able to taste the decadent wines of Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, a winery on the island of Sardinia (“Sardegna”) which is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.

Before we get to my tasting notes, let’s start things off with a bit of history:

Sardinia is known for their production of Vermentino (light-bodied white wine) and Cannonau (red wine made with Sardinia’s most successful wine grapes known as Grenache). Cantina Santa Maria La Palma also makes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cagnulari, and Monica, but none were among the wine we tasted.

In 1946, the farmworkers of Sardinia reclaimed the agricultural land that they had lost during the Agrarian Reform in the immediate post-war period. The locals were use to working with their hands and began their new lifestyle of winemaking. This led to over a hundred workers entering into a co-operative in 1959 where they founded the winery “Cantina Santa Maria La Palma”. So far, they have sold 4 million bottles worldwide. That’s quite a bit!

With that bit out of the way, let’s get on with the tasting!

Vino Numero Uno: Akenta “Millesimato” Spumante Extra Dry NV, $20

  • Made from 100% Vermentino, using the Charmat method, and it is aged on the lees for about 6 months. “Akenta” means “go for 100 years.”  The grapes are from their best vineyards and it possesses 14 g/l of residual sugar.

And here are our impressions…capture

  • Appearance: Sparkling mineral champagne with a pale gold color. Since this wine is aged under the sea in a cave that is a part of La Maddalena National Park, it contains a certain mineral air about it that adds to the wine visually.
  • ABV: 12.5-13%
  • Aroma: Almonds and peaches with floral hints.
  • Taste: Definitely the most unique champagne I’ve had the pleasure of trying. On the palate, Akenta contained a fruity mineral sweetness with enticing notes of peach and apple. This elegant wine was paired with Sfoglia’s antipasti seafood dishes that contained crispy rock shrimp, chickpeas, chives, and harissa aioli. This wine is perfect to enjoy on a special occasion. My personal favorite of the four we tried, due to its uniqueness. This is the best champagne I ever came across. I dare you to prove me wrong.

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Vino Numero Due: Aragosta Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2015, $12.99

  • A still wine made with 100% Vermentino.

And here are our impressions…

  • Appearance: Light gold.
  • ABV: 13%
  • Aroma: Fruity flavors – like lemons and apples, as well as a nutty almond note.
  • Taste: Dry and crisp. Has a bit of a tartness to it. Great wine to enjoy along side any Seafood. This was the second favorite among the tasters of the groups from the wines that we tasted.

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Vino Numero Tre: La Bombarde Cannon di Sardegna DOC 2013, $10 – $12

  • Made from 100% Cannonau.

And here are our impressions…

  • Appearance: Medium red color.
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Aroma: Fruity with hints of spice (strawberry & cherry).
  • Taste: Smooth, dry and long finish. Went very well with the shrimp and cheese we sampled.

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Vino Numero Quattro: Cannonau di Sardegna DOC Riserva 2013, $15 – $18

  • 100% Vermentino; Charmant method; aged six months on lees.

And here are our impressions…

  • Appearance: Medium red color.
  • ABV: 13 – 13.5%
  • Aroma: Red berries, such as strawberry and raspberry.
  • Taste: Spices, herbs and plummy fruit flavors. Contained a velvet body after taste with hints of vanilla.

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Final Thoughts

Cantina Santa Maria La Palma is known for having enviable climatic conditions which allows them to focus on selecting and producing the right grapes and enhancing the soil for a more crisp and pure taste. I would describe Cantina Santa Maria La Palma as both traditional and experimental. Never in my life have I heard of a winery aging their wine underwater or staying with the times in terms of technology to keep their grapes high-quality. They are not afraid to try new endeavors with their winery – this alone should make you want to try their wines.

Bryan Maitland , a fellow taster and the founder of the Astoria Wine Club, added “Sfoglia restaurant, with its rustic Italian dining atmosphere and family style service, was the perfect frame around which to capture the traditional Sardinian wines from Cantina Santa Maria La Palma. The indigenous varietals of Cannonau and Vermentino worked in perfect harmony with the array of Italian fare. From the off dry, charmat method, sparkling Vermentino, Akenta, alongside rock shrimp with chickpeas in a spicy aioli; to the lamb osso bucco with rutabaga mash, served with the Riserva Cannonau di Sardegna.”.
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“The passion that our winemakers have for the art of winemaking and the painstaking analysis of the local area, which is treated with the utmost respect and constant dedication – these are the elements that allow us to achieve the best from our vineyards, that richness embodied by every wine we have ever produced.” ~ Cantina Santa Maria La Palma

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