Romangia

Romangia is a geographical area within Logudoro, which in the Sard language means “luogo dorato,” or golden place, since it is considered Sardinia’s most fertile area, as well as rich and vibrant historically and socially. Romangia lies between Porto Torres, Sassari, and Castelsardo, facing the Gulf of Asinara. It comprises the commune of Sennori e Sorso,  and constitutes the Zona Storica del Cannonau, the classic growing area of the cannonau grape variety. Today, with its 1,500 hectares, Romangia holds 18% of Sardinia’s total vineyards (ca. 26,000 hectares), and Sorso–Sennori ranks first in Sardegna for hectares planted to vines.

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This is certainly the least-known Sardinian wine-growing area to the world at large, due to the lack of success by the Cantina Sociale di Sorso–Sennori; it began as early as 1954, but closed its doors over 15 years ago. Although the other Sardinian cooperatives managed to continuously bottle good-quality wines and market them in Italy and abroad, thus promoting their individual growing areas, the Cantina Sociale di Sorso–Sennori, although its wines became famous in the 1960s, had to close down for lack of a grape supply.

The reason is both paradoxical as well as topical still today. Romangia boasts hundreds of small grape-growers and wine producers. The former continue to sell their fruit to both Sardinian and Italian wine producers; the latter make excellent wines, which they sell off in bulk within six months of the harvest. Both enjoy reasonable and quick returns and therefore feel no need to form themselves into cooperatives. The bulk wine, though, does not leave the regional borders.

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A little history

In Romangia, wine has been made for over 3,000 years. Numerous finds have been made at the Domus de Janas di Abelazu, such as the terracotta wine (Facies Abealzu, Eneolitico), dated to the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, so ca. 2,500 BC, some 2,000 years before the Roman, Etruscan, Phoenician and Greek civilisations. Other containers have been found, too, true pottery wine decanters (the Askos) found near Monte Cao between Sorso and Sennori, dated to 900 BC. (All of these vases are preserved in the Museo A. Sanna in Sassari.)

Villedieu, an expert, wrote (Villedieu 1984, pp.173-178) that in the Roman period, the most important port in Sardegna was Turris Libissonis, which is today’s Porto Torres, with remains still visible of the well-preserved Roman city. Under the Roman Empire, Sardinia was a much-prized source not only of grain, but of olive oil and wine as well. The Romangia boasts many finds of eastern and Roman wine transport amphorae. In Roman times, the most important viticultural area was without a doubt the Romangia, together with Cagliari.

In 1746, an extensive geo-historical survey edited by the Intendant General of the Kingdom, Francesco Giuseppe de la Perrière, Count of Viry, provided a very detailed description of rural Sardinia. He wrote: “… the areas in which viticulture is most pronounced were concentrated in three main geographical areas, the hinterland of Cagliari (Pirri, Quartucciu e Quartu, Assemini, Sestu, Sinnai, and Maracalagonis), the hill country of Ogliastra (Barisardo, Baunei, Ierzu, Oliena), and the north-western part of Sardinia (Romangia, Sassari area, and those near Alghero, Bosa).”

In 1951, the Italian writer Giuseppe Dessì wrote: “…Girò, Moscato del Campidano, Malvasia di Bosa, Vermentino di Tempio, Nasco, Monica, Oliena, Torbato d’Alghero, Moscato di Luras, Cannonau di Sorso….”(Dessì 1987, p.67).

An interesting anecdote.

Regarding Mariano I DeThori, king of Sardinia in the 11th century, who completed the construction of the Basilica in Porto Torres, a passage in the Cronaca Logudorese, known as the Liber Iudicum turritanorum, there is an explicit reference to the passion he had for wine, so much so as to force his mother to resort to spells to separate him from his wine drinking. Mariano, cured of his vice, fell ill, according to that same source, thanks to the (infected) water he drank to excess. (Orunesu, Puxeddu 1993, pp. 32-35).

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Landscape

The area offers a wealth of remains from the Nuragic, Roman, Medieval, Judges, and Aragonese periods, while its economy is not only based on agriculture, viticulture, and animal husbandry but boasts superbly artistic artisans as well.

Sennori lies on a hillslope swept by strong blasts of the northeastern maestrale; it offers a magnificent panorama out over the Gulf of Turritano, with views of the Nurra maremma, the Asinara coastline, and even the island of Corsica. Its picturesque surrounding valleys are many, predominant among them Badde, Priedu, Sutis, Nigolosu, and Terràculas. Sennori opens like a Greek theatre to embrace a crop-rich landscape studded with olive groves, fruit orchards, and vineyards, extending to a plain boasting a vast wealth of remains of human settlements reaching far back in time.

The surrounds of Sennori are cloaked in Mediterranean scrub vegetation, largely shrubs and small, hardy evergreen trees. Among them we find carob, wild olive, and laurel, and the smaller varieties include myrtle, lentisk, phillyrea, arbutus, Mediterranean buckthorn, and Butcher’s broom; the vegetation is rendered even more dense and tight-woven by numerous types of vines.

Enriching the cultural landscape are the renowned Domus de Janas (House of Witches) in the Beneficio Parrocchiale, the Nuraghe di Badde Margherita, the Nuraghe di Badde Puttu, and the Tomb of the Giants in Badde Nigolosu, as well as the churches of San Basilio Magno, Santa Croce, Santa Lucia, and of San Giovanni.

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Natural Winegrowers In Sardinia