|The Sulcis peninsula, in the island’s southwest, is Sardinia’s most ancient area, geologically speaking; rich in archaeological sites and artifacts, its landscape offers an astonishing palette of variations and contrasts. Coastal sand dunes, gentle hills and inlets, narrow strips of flatland and inland mountains, rugged cliffs overhanging the sea interspersed with silky-smooth white beaches, pine trees, junipers and vineyards. In the heart of this unique region is a medieval town called Santadi, poised like a mirage between the dazzling white of Porto Pino sand dunes and the shady quiet of Pantaleo forest, where Sardinian deer tread freely among centuries-old oak trees, cork trees and holly oaks. Well over half a century ago - it was 1960 - a winery was founded there and named after its extraordinary location: Cantina Santadi or more simply, Santadi. Santadi was based on a partnership of fine local growers, which made it deeply rooted in Sulcis terroir. After a decade and a half establishing a reputation for severe quality standards, Santadi partners elected Antonello Pilloni as their President.
The year was 1976, the choice a fortunate one: Pilloni succeeded in bringing the Cantina to international prominence and remains at the helm today. In the early 1980s, he called on Giacomo Tachis to consult for Santadi. Creator of Sassicaia, Tachis would go on to become “the man behind Italian wine’s worldwide Renaissance”, a true living legend; yet even in his late seventies and nominally retired, he has not ceased to collaborate with his friends at Santadi; President Pilloni, the in-house enologist Umberto Trombelli and General Manager Raffaele Cani.
Santadi and its territory, in fact, are particularly close to Tachis’ heart. As he confessed to Michele Shah in a Decanter interview (Sept. 2003): “I’m absolutely passionate about Vermentino [and Carignano]. [...] There are still parts of Sardinia which I consider virgin land, it’s a spectacular island, especially the south, which is the true soul of the island.”
Santadi vineyards cover an impressive 1,235 acres (500 hectares) of prime, gently rolling terrain reaching right out to the sea; all within an 18-mile radius from the winery so that fruit can be conveyed in minimal time. The soil is unique, its sandy nature 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.”