Now nearly unknown in its native Spanish homeland, Monica is well-loved throughout the island and has its own DOC Monica di Sardegna in the south. Its endearing name may have a monastic meaning, from Uva Monaca, the monk’s grape chosen for the mass. It produces light and lovely early-drinking wines, here appropriately named with a recommendation, beach wine.
Situated in the hills of the most mountainous and remotest part of the island in the Southeast, the vineyards of Cardedu (car-DAY-do) perch on sandy, granite cliffs hanging over turquoise blue water. Cardedu is one of the island’s traditional producers, and one of the champions of the humbly soft and sweet Monica grape. The Loi family is old-school, organically dry farming, fermenting with native yeasts, and aging this playful wine in concrete and stainless steel to maintain its brightness. ‘Praja’ is the Sardo word for the Italian ‘spiaggia,’ or ‘beach’, which may also translate to “mandatory place to open this bottle.”
A splashy watercolor of Sardinia’s Mediterranean delights: sun-baked brick and North African spice bazaar, blood orange sangria, and dried fruits (minus the raisins and prunes.) Finishing with a fresh leather and olive brine, the tannins hold on to your pallet more like a paprika spice than a harsh red. Drink it with frutti di mare, sheep cheese, or if you can, the couscous-esque Sardinian fregula pasta.