The Archaeologist’s Wine.
Long-rumored among wine intellectuals that the Bovale grape varietal was somehow imported by the Spanish Conquest of Sardinia in the 1700’s. For years, Bovale was thought to be unworthy of fine wine. The local Sardinian people, “Sardi” in Italian, blamed the supposed lack of quality on the fact that the varietal was not native in origin. Many farmers gave up on it and planted more Cannonau.
But some grape growers refused to give it up. The ones that didn’t referred to the varietal as “Muristellu” in the historic Sardinian language.
Today, Bovale or Muristellu wines are some of the most expensive and respected wines in Sardinia.What happened? Bovale turns out to be an ancient varietal that can be traced back to antiquity. It’s unlikely the varietal came from Spain in the 18th Century because it was already in Sardinia during the Nuragic Civilization. Cannonau was thought to have been a Spanish import until 3,000-year-old grape seeds were discovered in Sardinia back in 2015. The DNA revealed a wild version of Cannonau. So Cannonau was on the island long before the Spaniards arrived. This discovery also made the wine world see that Sardinia might be the oldest wine culture in the Mediterranean. In the future Bovale will follow this pattern.
The symbol on the bottle is pre-historic. It’s the Mother Goddess of the Nuragic Civilization. The Nuragic people lived in Sardinia between 3,000-8,000 years ago. This symbol can still be seen chiseled into old stones all over the island. The Mother Goddess was the god of fertility.
Sort of an archaeologist approach, local farmers in Sardinia took a second look at Bovale. Like many ancient artifacts, their mysteries unfold with time. What once was considered to be a valueless artifact sometimes turns priceless upon rediscovery.
Winemakers studied Bovale’s characteristics in the vineyard and the wine. They experimented with ancient vine training systems and yield control. The results are gearing up Bovale to compete in the arena of fine wine.
No example on the entire Sardinian island can surpass the brilliant excavation by the Atha Ruja winery in Dorgali. They took native Bovale scions from an abandoned, centuries-old vineyard and grafted them on rootstock at the estate vineyards. This unique clone naturally produces extremely low yields.
It is the low yield production that creates a superior version of Bovale, with breadth and depth, that can age in your cellar for over a decade. Not only does the wine reach a threshold of quality that few can obtain, the discovery of Bovale’s longevity in the cellar proves that a once-thought valueless wine now has intrinsic value.
With its impenetrable ruby red colour with violet notes, Muristellu majestically unfolds to the nose with notes of flint, graphite and small black berries. On the palate it releases its warmth followed by a texture of soft, enveloping tannins, revealing notes of black cocoa. Being an unfiltered wine, any sediment does not compromise the quality but enhances its typical characteristics and testifies the integrity and naturalness of our oenological procedures. Excellent with rich and structured dishes such as game main courses, red meats and mature cheeses.
Signaling to antiquity, Muristellu by the Atha Ruja winery is produced at a scarce level of 1,333 bottles per annum. Harvested by the most careful hands, and aged in oak for 3 years followed by 1 year of bottle rest before release. For the artifact-inclined wine aficionado, this is a rare piece worth seeking. Decanting for 2 hours minimum and slow sipping is recommended.