Santadi

This celebrated winery takes its name from the medieval town of Santadi, in the Sulcis peninsula of southwest Sardinia – a landscape of contrasts and dramatic beauty, where the dazzling white sand dunes of Porto Pino and the Pantaleo forest and its centuries-old oak trees, cork trees, holly oaks and deer all call home. Founded in 1960, Cantina Santadi began as a partnership between fine local growers, making it deeply rooted in Sulcis terroir.

In 1976, Santadi partners elected Antonello Pilloni as their president. It was a good choice as Pilloni succeeded in bringing Santadi to international prominence and remains at the helm today. In the early 1980s, he called on Giacomo Tachis, creator of Sassicaia and “the man behind Italian wine’s worldwide Renaissance,” as a consultant. President Pilloni now works with general manager Raffaele Cani, and winemakers Andrés García-Blas and Umberto Trombelli. The Santadi vineyards cover an impressive 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of prime, gently rolling terrain reaching right out to the sea. They are all within an 18-mile radius from the winery so that fruit can be moved quickly. The soil is unique; its sandy nature is conducive to the survival of pre-Phylloxera rootstock. In the words of Raffaele Cani, “The parasite does attack the roots, producing small holes in them. These cavities, however, are immediately filled up by grains of sand that heal the wounds, as it were, allowing the plant to thrive in spite of Phylloxera.” The soil, microclimate and people of Santadi (judged by Wine and Spirits magazine one of the Top 100 Wineries of 2011) are so extraordinary that Neil and Maria Empson have not only chosen to represent them – they have also selected the winery as their professional partner in creating their own Sardinian wine, Shardana (described separately).

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