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Monica grapes

Monica is one of the lesser known Sardinian varieties that are grown exclusively in the Italian island. It is cultivated in limited quantities and strangely, many ampelographers suggest that Monica might not be just one variety, but could indicate cultivation of several grab varieties that are grown in Sardinia.

Sardinia historically has remained neutral and isolated through the centuries. The island itself speaks its own language, the Sardo language that when compared to its Italian counterpart, differs to a vast extent.

The island has, however, see a lot of cultures and people settle down here. Sardinia used to be a proper Roman settlement and a province, and continued its existence in the medieval ages as several cultures from the Spaniards, French, even the Arabs and Vikings establish temporary footholds here.

It is now governed under the Italian government and follows the usual procedure when assigning wine DOCs.

Wine grape varieties

Considering such a situation of Sardinia, several grape varieties, just like the island have remained mysterious, and some of them even unknown. Monica itself is a predominantly home consumption grab, although its higher quality as compared to its contemporary domestically consumed varieties has allowed it to be given preference for some commercial winemaking.

Monica’s origin

Where this grape exactly originated remains to be an unknown thing. The history of Sardinia itself remains mysterious owing to the island’s ‘insular’ nature through the centuries.

A list of foreign powers have had a foothold on the second largest island of Italy and got included in the Italian federation during its formation period in the 19th century.

Though it is some 100 miles off the Italian west coast, it is only 10 miles south of French Corsica. The reason behind Sardinia’s inclusion with Italy is because the island always has been historically and culturally closer to Italy, political as well as culturally since dialects and the local culture that exists here is pretty much Italian or close to it.

Monica grape however, is not indigenous to Sardinia. It is certainly of Spanish origin, although it is not longer grown in Spain.

Its exact region of origin remains unknown, but the grape is a common favourite among Sardinian locals since the grape has for long, been a domestically consumed variety. What is known, however, despite the lack of records and evidences, is that the grape was most probably brought here by Spanish conquistadors in the 13th century, when a considerable part of Italy was actually ruled by the Spanish crown.

Ampelographers reached to this conclusion since a lot of varieties exclusive to Sardinia, like Carignano, Cannonau and Balve were grapes of Spanish origin.

Most of Monica’s produce comes from the southern half of the island, around the port town of Cagliari where it has small DOC areas that produce wines like the Monica di Sardegna, a popular and a cheap beverage among locals.

Wines with Monica grapes

Monica’s characteristics

Many suggest that Monica is somewhat related to America’s Mission grape because of its mild acidity and flavour (since Mission itself is one of the blandest red grapes grown in the US and Chile and has definite Spanish origins).

It is however a very high yielding variety and very cheap to cultivate, so it suits the environment of Sardinian farmers since the island is way too far off from the Italian mainland.

And because of its high productivity, the grape is a common favourite among local wine shops here since the grape also exhibits some really fruity flavours of dark berries and plums.

Its ripeness needs to be treated with caution since an overripe Monica will give excessively alcoholic produce.

Its main showcase seems to be the Monica di Sardegna DOC, where still and semi-sparkling wines are produced.

Monica is also blended with other varieties, with the DOC requiring at least 85% of Monica blend. A drier Monica di Cagliari is also produced that has fortified sweet flavours.

Synonyms for Monica

Monica has several synonyms: Monaco, Mora, Morillo, Pascali, Pensale Nero being some of them.

Food pairing

Monica can be enjoyed with spicy Italian spaghetti or a risotto.

Chili con carne and pasta dressed with a chili tomato sauce can well be enjoyed with Monica.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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