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.
Enrico Esu family were originally pastori/shepherds, who in the Sardinian tradition, created family settlements called ‘medau’, along with vineyards. Both the Pheonicians & Romans planted coastal footholds on the island, notably at Sulcis & Sant’Antioco, but never conquered the indigenous people who lived inland. Enrico’s father Silvio – whom he refers to as a cross between a farmer and a miner – planted their 10 hectares of Carignano (aka Mazuelo) back in 1958. It’s a grape first propagated by the (Spanish) Bourbons during their four-hundred-year occupation of the island between the 14th and 18th century; indeed Carignano was originally known as ‘Axina de Spagna’.
Compared to the more commercially, volume driven neighbors reliant on spalliera/rows, vine clones & vigorous rootstocks that gave Carignano a bad name, the Esu family treasured the original, ancient, ‘alberello’ ungrafted/piede franco vines, with their loose bunches and look to perpetuate them on account of their excellent fruit.
Following years of selling the (prized) fruit off, Enrico decided in 2013 to make the switch to bottling the wine under the estate label ‘Nerominiera’, so honouring the presence of the now silent coal mines & the men who worked in them. Vinified without oak, at the local cantina sociale (cooperative), Enrico made only 5000 bottles of his inaugural bottling’. From 2015, he began vinifying in his cantina (close to the family’s ‘Medau’) & released the first vintage of ‘Seruci’, the name of the mine where his father worked his final shift.
> Organic, uncertified.
‘Nerominiera’, Carignano del Sulcis, Carbonia (100% Carignano)
‘Seruci’ Carignano del Sulcis, Carbonia (100% Carignano)