Sella & Mosca: The best of Sardinian Wine

Sella & Mosca Coastline © Sella & Mosca

The name Sella & Mosca is synonymous with Sardinian Wine. They are the largest producer of wine in Sardinia. Because Spain governed Sardinia for many years, its winemaking and many grape varieties are influenced by Catalans.

Sardinia lies between Corsica and Sicily. The island’s conditions with its craggy mountains, rough landscape and the climatic influences from the ocean make the area ideal for producing outstanding wine. Some of the more popular grape varieties that grow on the island and give Sardinian wine its name today are Vermentino, Nuragus, and Cannonau. Cannonau is Italy’s version of French or Spanish Garnacha.

Sella & Mosca History

Established in 1899. Sella & Mosca was the vision of two businessmen from Piedmont, Italy, Erimino Sella, an engineer, and Edgardo Mosca, a lawyer. After Phylloxera hit Europe, Sella and Mosca decided to reclaim vineyards on the island in an area called I Piani. Today, Sella & Mosca’s I Piani Estate is Italy’s second-largest contiguous vineyard. The estate lies in the northwest corner of Sardinia near the port of Alghero. The estate encompasses 1600 acres, with 1200 planted in vines. The region received DOC designation in 1995. Sella & Mosca also own vineyards in the Sulcis DOC and the Gallura DOCG.

Sella & Mosca Winery © Sella & Mosca
Sella & Mosca Winery. Photo courtesy of Sella & Mosca

Today, Terra Moretti owns the property, and the head of winemaking is Giovanni Pinna. While constructed in 1903, the cellars represent traditions of a time past. They currently house the Slavonian oak casks and Allier, Nevers, and Troncais oak barrels. Juxtraapsoing these cellars is the modern winery representing innovation occurring over the years.

Sella & Mosca, besides being known for its Vermentino and Cannonau, the winery has successfully cultivated Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Unique to Sella & Mosca sustainability program, they have planted their vines with alternating rows of Oleanders, palms, maritime pines, Eucalyptus, and other Mediterranean plants. In addition, the winery maintains a 12-acre preserve for wildlife and Mediterranean plants.

Sella & Mosca Cellar © Sella & Mosca
Sella & Mosca Cellar Photo courtesy of Sella & Mosca

The Vineyards

Iron-rich limestone, clay, and sandy soils dominate the Alghero Vineyard. They vary from sand to silt and clay. Each grape variety planted in this area utilizes a soil composition compatible with the particular grape.

The Gallura region consists of granite-based soils. The vineyards lie on the slopes of Mount Limbara, which provides a micro-climate influenced by the sea and the breezes coming from the hills. Vermentino represents the dominant grape grown.

The Sulcis Vineyard lies on a sandy and calcareous terrain in an area of Giba. This location consists of soils rich in minerals. Carignano, an ancient grape grown constitutes the grape of choice for this area. Sulcis received its DOC status in 1977.

Sella & Mosca Sardinian Wines © Cori Solomon
Sella & Mosca Sardinian Wines

Training Systems

Sella & Mosca developed two training systems over the years. The first, the Sardinian Pergola, was developed in the 1980s. In this system, the shoots run parallel to the ground about six feet above. This system allows vine vegetation to centralize the grape bunches, giving the vines maximum sun exposure, while preventing the grapes from burning.

Professor Intrieri of the University of Bologna developed the second system, Free Mobilized Cordon, in the 1990s. In this system, a single wire sustains the shoots, giving them the freedom to fluctuate. This system allows for increased exposure to solar energy and optimized aeration of the grape clusters.

Sella & Mosca Flagship Sardinian Wine Torbato

Torbato is an ancient indigenous grape that goes back to the time of the Phoenicians. The Catalans brought it to Sardinia. Although produced in Spain under the name Turbat, Sella & Mosca is the only winery producing 100% varietal wine. Today they create four types of Torbato, two still wines, and two sparkling wines.

Torbato as a wine exhibits a straw color and delivers a good structure. The wine is typically crisp and dry with distinctive flinty and mineral flavors.

Sella & Mosca Torbato Brut © Cori Solomon
Sella & Mosca Torbato Brut

Sella & Mosca Torbato Brut, Alghero DOC 2018: Produced with 100% Torbato, this wine is created in the Charmat method. This fresh sparkling wine displays sapidity, which comes from the wind bringing salt to the grape from the sea.

Sella & Mosca Torbato Terre Bianche Torbato Alghero DOC 2018: This wine represents Sella & Mosca’s unoaked version of Torbato. I found aromas of apricot and grapefruit. On the palate, the wine exhibited body and viscous qualities along with the sapidity from the vineyard’s proximity to the sea. Hints of grapefruit on the finish add to the fresh, crisp attributes of this wine.

Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche Torbato © Cori Solomon
Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche Torbato

Vermentino

Sella & Mosca grow Vermentino in two different regions. The first is in Alghero under the Vermention di Sardegna DOC. Here the vineyards are located on alluvial soils. The other area, Gallura under the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG. This Vermentino represents the only white wine of the region to receive a DOCG designation.

On two different occasions, I tasted each Vermentino.

Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2020. These Vermentino grapes grow in limestone and clay soils. Once harvested, the grapes retain skin contact for 10-hours. The wine delivers fruity aromas of tropical fruit and pear. Find a bright wine with sapidity, nice acidity, minerality, and citrus notes on the palate.

Monteoro Vermentino di Gallura Superiore DOCG 2020: The wine ages on lees for four months in stainless steel. This wine displayed more minerality and viscosity than the Sardegna. I was particularly impressed with the wine’s balance.

Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino Di Sardegna © Cori Solomon
Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino Di Sardegna

Cannonau

The Cannonau grape is known in Spain as Garnacha and France as Grenache. In Sardinia, it is the most widely grown red grape. The vines do well in sandy soils close to the coast and also more rocky soils. At Sella & Mosca, the grapes cultivated at the Alghero estate are exposed to north-easterly winds.

Sella & Mosca Cannonau Di Sardegna © Cori Solomon
Sella & Mosca Cannonau Di Sardegna

Wine made from Cannonau is typically dry, high in tannins, and full-bodied.

Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva DOC 2018: This wine aged six months in barrel. The wine is fresh, bright, and savory with notes of balsamic and herbs.

Tanca Farra Alghero DOC 2015: Combining the indigenous grape Cannonau with Cabernet Sauvignon in a 50/50 blend, Sella & Mosca shows their success in growing international grapes, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine ages 12 months with a portion of the wine in second-year French barrels and the other part in oak casks, followed by three months in bottle. I found a full-bodied, dry, and balanced wine with herbal aromas and notes of spice.

Sella & Mosca Tanca Farra © Cori Solomon
Sella & Mosca Tanca Farra

Sardinian Wine Cabernet Sauvignon

Marchese di Villamarina Alghero DOC 2014: Created with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine ages 18 months in 50% new French oak and 50% second year used barrels, followed by 12 months in bottle. The wine showcases Sella & Mosca’s commitment to producing international varieties. This full-bodied wine exhibits red fruit on the nose and vanilla and currant on the palate.

Visiting the winery, one observes Sardinian wine at its best and Sella & Mosca’s commitment to sustainability by viewing its 12-acre nature preserve dedicated to Mediterranean vegetation and local wildlife. A visit starts as one walks through the Enoteca, the original building, housing the tasting room, and traditional cellars, followed by the museum that features the history of the estate and the archaeological finds discovered on the estate in 1903. Along the way, one learns about the traditional and innovations as you glimpse at the modern winery complex. While absorbing the nuances of Sardinian wine, sea breezes, and the smell of salt air, greet you.

Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted Sardinian wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.