Esu Carbonia – ‘Nero Miniera’ Carignano del Sulcis

Carignan was at one time, one of the most planted red grapes in the world. This underappreciated variety is mostly associated with the south of France and Spain (its homeland) where it’s often blended. In recent years, varietal examples from Chile have gotten some press. Still, my heart is with the wines found in Sardinia. Tucked away on the southwest corner of the island, you can find the small DOC Carignano del Sulcis.

The Carignano del Sulcis DOC is dominated by large wineries like Santadi and Sardus Pater. While those producers make excellent wines, it’s great to see new, small producers like Esu Carbonia making their mark.

In the southern-western corner of Sardinia lie the former coal fields of Carbonia. Closer to the coast the carbon land is covered by sand, and to free-standing, ungrafted, unirrigated Carignano vines that yield a naturally small crop of compact bunches, rich with sweet juice. It’s also home to the Esu family, custodians of Carignano, at their Carbonia estate. This small estate produces less than 10,000 bottles per year, most of which is sold in Sardinia.

Carignano del Sulcis produces wines that have enough body, richness, and fruit to keep casual palates happy. They also have enough complexity and spiciness to keep more seasoned drinkers engaged. A wine that can live in two different worlds is no small feat.

The Esu Carbonia, Carignano del Sulics wines are no exception. They also bridge the gap between the hipster crowd that loves natural wines and the buttoned-up gang who like classic reds. They have a very hands-off feel to them, which lets the wildness of Carignan shine through yet still retains a certain refinement. These are big, Mediterranean wines done right.

Nerominiera is a Carignano in purity from sapling vineyards on ungrafted foot. The average age of the plants is 45 years and they grow on sandy soil. The depth of the roots ensures an exceptional supply of nutrients, and the wine is the perfect witness. After a manual harvest in small boxes, the vinification starts spontaneously on indigenous yeasts, in small vats without temperature control and only manual punching of the cap. Maceration lasts for 12 days and ages for 12 months in steel. Bottled after natural decanting, without clarification or filtering.

In the bottle we read this;

“Imagine the meeting of two souls, the farmer and the miner, in one person, my father. A life spent between the light of the vineyards and the Black of the mine, his passion and his duty, today enclosed in this bottle.”

In the story on the site we can read again about the romantic bond made of values that firmly bind the producer to his father and his land.

My Tasting Notes:

Dark red colour. Complex aromas of strawberry, dried cherry, meat, dried rose petal, and parched earth. Fresh and pleasant bouquet. Full-bodied and rich with plenty of ripe red fruit upfront. The fruit is plush while licorice and earthy complexities hit on the back end. Firm tannins. A pleasant sensation of warmth and freedom. Let this rest in the bottle for a few years but if you want to enjoy it now, make sure to have some meat grilled up.

Alc. content: 14%vol

It’s a wine that keeps you coming back for more.

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