When my father was a young wine merchant, girls were much prettier, England were great at football, beer was practically free and sourcing previously unknown wines that represented terrific value for money was a doddle. Nowadays every failed financier with a smart phone, a Sat Nav and some space in the shed fancies themselves as an importer and finding something new and exciting is like searching for the Arc of the Covenant. Nil desperandum - we'll always have Corsica!
It is hard to believe that a decade has elapsed since we first shipped wines from the Granite Isle and, by golly, they've proved popular. Some of our earliest Corsican discoveries were the wines made at Domaine de Torraccia by father and son Christian and Marc Imbert. Their impressive, organic vineyard was reclaimed from the Maquis in the hills above Porto Vecchio in the 1960s and now extends to 43 hectares. Their herb-scented white wine is made from pure Vermentino and has a delicious, savoury palate of russet apples with hints of fennel and rosemary. It slips down very well with Summer salads and seafood. The Imberts' Domaine de Torracia rouge is blended from 50% Nielluccio, along with 30% Grenache and 10% each of Syrah and Sciacarello. It has lovely hedgerow berry aromas and flavours and supple tannins. Their flagship 'Cuvée Oriu' is made from 80% Nielluccio and 20% Sciacarello that are matured in vat for 18 months before bottling. It is an unashamed, complex Vin de Garde that will age for at least 10 years and goes well with rib-sticking, rustic dishes, such as the local wild boar sausages.
In the hills on the Western side of the island, below Sartène, Philippe Farinelli produces characterful wines with a strong sense of terroir. His Domaine Saparale blanc is made from 100% Vermentino and has wild flower aromas and a sensuous palate of white orchard fruit with a dry, mineral-edged finish. Philippe's pale, coral-pink, dry rosé is blended from Sciacarello, Vermentino and Nielluccio and is redolent of ripe summer berries, so is ideal for al fresco imbibing. Completing his range is a delightfully pitchy red made from 80% Nielluccio and 20% Sciacarello that has a complex palate of briary fruit and a framework of elegant tannins.
At the northern tip of the island, on the Cap Corse promontory, Lina Pieretti fashions some fantastic wines from a vineyard that enjoys an excellent elevation, amazing light levels and stunning sea views. Her Coteaux du Cap Corse is a zesty rosé from a blend of Alicante, Grenache and Nielluccio. It has subtle raspberry and redcurrant flavours and a pleasantly persistent palate. Lina's decadent, sweet Muscat du Cap Corse. This is a golden-hued, fortified wine with alluring orange blossom scents and a luscious palate of honey, pineapple and stewed apricots. It makes an excellent bonne bouche or partner to fruit-based desserts.