Sardinia’s Cannonau Wine: A Way to Longevity?

| Thu, 08/25/2016 - 03:00
Cannonau wine

Cannonau is a robust red wine produced in Sardinia. While little known outside the island, Cannonau is grown all over the region, from a special grape variety generally known as Grenache. For a long time, it was thought that the grape was imported by the Aragonese of Spain when they conquered the island in the 14th century, but recent research seems to point to the grape having originated right on the island.

The best Cannonau is said to be produced in the eastern half of the island, in an area that encompasses both the coast, from Orosei to Bari Sardo, and the mountainous interior around Nuoro, Ogliastra and Atzara, all the way down to Cagliari. Within this larger area, three smaller sub-regions have been identified as producing top quality Cannonau: Nepente di Oliena refers exclusively  to the town of Oliena, in the eastern Nuoro province; Capo Ferrato comprises the towns of Castiadas, Muravera, San Vito, Villaputzu and Villasimius in the island's south-eastern corner; Jerzu includes the Jerzu and Cardedu districts.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Cannonau is its association with longevity. Sardinians tend to live long lives, well into their 90s, and a key factor seems to be their diet (besides lifestyle and family bonds). Cannonau seems to have the highest levels of polyphenols of any wine, antioxidants linked to heart health, protecting from cardiovascular disease. It is also rich in anthocyanins (commonly found in berries), naturally occurring compounds responsible for the red/purple color of red-wine grapes, with antioxidant effects as well. This does not mean you have to get drunk on Cannonau: locals drink an average of two glasses a day.