Corsican Wine

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Corsican Wine

Back in 2005, we were first introduced to the 'Granite Isle' and its wines by the 'Rough Guide to Corsica' author David Abram - it was a definite case of love at first sight. Mr. Abram has an unparalleled knowledge of (and enthusiasm for) all things Corsican and he made a fantastic guide to its sometimes well-hidden charms, curios, beaches, coves, hostelries and - happily for us - wineries. Many of the latter were off the beaten track and had never entertained any interest from overseas wine buyers. This provided a unique buying opportunity and friendships for which we are eternally grateful.

Based below the hill town of Sartène in the south-east of the island, Domaine Saparale is an exemplary estate making characterful wines. Today, patron Philippe Farinelli's vine holdings extend to 40 hectares located on free-draining soils that benefit from ample sunshine and the island's long ripening season. His Domaine Saparale blanc is made from pure Vermentino and has an appealing bouquet of bay and rosemary preceding a citrus-edged palate offset by fresh acidity and exotic fruit. It doesn't demand any food accompaniment but pairs well with the local shellfish. A sibling rosé is made from a blend of Nielluccio (Sangiovese), Sciacerello and Vermentino and has a pretty, coral-pink robe, soft red fruit aromas and zesty redcurrant and raspberry flavours. Completing a commendable trilogy is a redoubtable red made from 80% Nielluccio and 20% Sciacerello. With briary hedgerow berry and wild herb scents and an earthy core of black fruit with peppery undertones, it can be cellared for 5 or more years and makes a fine partner to wild boar or game.

On the opposite side of the island at Porto Vecchio, the Imbert family have been pivotal in gaining international recognition for Corsican winemaking and instilling a sense of unity amongst the island's viticultural community. Developed as an organic estate by nonagenarian pioneer Christian Imbert during the 1960s, today it is his son Marc who oversees vinification. His white wine is made from hand-harvested Vermentino that is raised in thermo-regulated vats. Redolent of Maquis herbs with notes of thyme and hints of lemon balm, it drinks well from release and makes a fine foil for seafood. Marc's rosé is blended from Nielluccio, Sciacerello, Grenache and Cinsault and has a wild salmon colour, red fruit aromas and refreshing summer berry palate.

The domaine's main red - in volume terms - is a blend of 10% each of Syrah and Sciacerello, 30% Grenache Noir and 50% Nielluccio. It has appealing red and black fruit aromas and pitchy palate of dark plums supported by fine-grained tannins. It can age well for 3 to 5+ years. A patron's cuvée 'Oriu', is made from 80% Nielluccio and 20% Sciacerello and is an unashamed vin de garde that takes 5 years to come into its own and can age well for 20. With brooding black fruit scents and flavours, leathery notes and firm tannins, it pairs well with slow-cooked daubes and benefits from decanting.

U

p on the eastern flank of the Cap Corse promontory near Luri, Lina Pieretti-Venturi's Domaine Pieretti is an exemplary, family-run vineyard that benefits from its impressive coastal location in the form of cooling sea breezes. New to this list is a pure iodine and white-flower-scented Vermentino overflowing with poached pear and tropical fruit flavours alongside rapier acidity and a flintly minerality. Her Coteaux du Cap Corse rosé is made from a blend of Alicante (Grenache) and Nielluccio and is perfect for al fresco imbibing. With a salmon pink colour, a rosehip and redcurrant bouquet and wild strawberry nuances, it drinks well from release. Lina also makes a highly-regarded 'Cap Corse' red from a traditional blend of Nielluccio and Sciacarello that has delicate dried-herb notes and a supple palate of autumnal fruit over a background of delicate tannins. Lina also makes one of Corsica's most coveted delicacies – a fortified Muscat du Cap Corse. Made from pure Muscat from 2 hectares of mature vines, it has magnificent orange blossom aromas and a sweet stone-fruit palate with a honeyed finish. It is traditionally consumed as a pre-prandial 'sharpener' but makes a fine partner to fruit-based desserts.

A more recent discovery has been Lionel Wojcik's Domaine Paradella in the hills of Patrimonio where he produces a robust red wine - from pure Nielluccio - that is matured in specially selected 'Radoux' oak barrels for 18 months prior to bottling. The finished wine has complex myrtle and plum scents and a dense palate of black fruit, sandalwood and spice. It benefits from being decanted and will age well for a decade or more. He also makes a coconut-scented white wine from Vermentino - grown on clay and limestone soils - that is also raised in oak barrels before bottling. The finished wine has exotic fruit scents and a peach and apricot palate with a long, elegant finish. It pairs well with fish and poultry in herb-based sauces.

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  1. Muscat du Cap Corse: Domaine Pieretti 2021
    Bottle
    £27.25
    Bottle (Case)
    £327.00
  2. Coteaux du Cap Corse: Domaine Pieretti Rosé 2021
    Bottle
    £21.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £263.40
  3. Coteaux du Cap Corse: Domaine Pieretti Blanc 2021
    Bottle
    £21.95
    Bottle (Case)
    £263.40
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Yapp Brothers Guide to Corsican wine

Everything you need to know about the Granite Island (the Île de Beauté) and the wines of Corsica.

Overview:
Corsicans are fiercely proud of their gastronomic and viticultural heritage, and want visitors to the Granite Isle to enjoy their sublime seafood, world-class charcuterie, pungent artisanal cheeses and good quality wines.

What are the different wine appellations in Corsica?
Corse AOP covers the island region with AOP Patrimonio and AOP Ajaccio the Corsican crus. 5 Village appellations for dry wine are named AOP Corse followed by either Porto Vecchio, Figari, Sartène, Calvi and Coteaux du Cap Corse with Muscat du Cap Corse for sweet vin doux naturels (VDNs) produced on the Cap Corse headland. Most Corsican wine is produced as IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) Ile de Beauté.

What grape varieties are used to make Corsican wine?
33 grape varieties are planted on the island though six form the majority of production: Nielluccio (Sangiovese), Sciacerello, and Vermentino (also known as Malvoisie or Rolle) plus Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains for sweet wine. International grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also grown on the island. There are approximately 5,780 hectares under vine with some 135 independent producers and another 160 that supply 4 caves cooperatives. Around half the wine produced is sold in mainland France with around 1/3 consumed sûr place but only around 20% is exported.

What are some popular Corsican wine producers?
Notable domaines include Torraccia, Leccia, Arena, Canarelli, Saparale, Pieretti, Paradella and Nicrosi.

What food pairings go well with Corsican wine?
Local delicacies include oursin (sea urchins), figatelli (chestnut-smoked sausage), lonzu (cured ham) and brocciu (goat or sheep's cheese).

What are the different types of Corsican wine available?
Almost 75% of production is rosé with a little more red made than white and sweet wine combined. The sweet white wine produced mainly from Muscat is traditionally drunk as an aperitif.

What is the history of Corsican wine?
The high quality and diversity of Corsican wine are not recent phenomena - the diarist James Boswell noted both in 1769 - just a year after the Genoese ceded the 'Granite Isle' to France, but they have been quite well kept secrets.

Where can I buy Corsican wine in the UK?
Yapp Brothers were fortunate to be introduced to the island back in 2005 (by author of 'The Rough Guide to Corsica', Dave Abram), and have been importing its wines ever since. We are still shipping from all of the same original estates and have added more to our list.

What are the best things to do in Corsica?
Laze on sandy beaches in the south. Hike the GR20. Sail around the island. Hunt wild boar. Visit the citadels of Bonifacio and Calvi. Listen to polyphonic chanting in Sartène.

How does the climate and terroir of Corsica affect the taste of its wine?
The granite soil and mediterranean climate ensure Corsican wines have a unique character, but even within Corsica there are differences, with wines grown on cleared 'Maquis' scrubland above Porto Vecchio, in the hills below Sartène and stunning clifftops on the eastern escarpment of the Cap Corse.

Famous people from Corsica:
Pascal Paoli. Napoleon Bonaparte. Laeticia Casta. Henry Padovani.

What are the best restaurants in Corsica?
Le Rouf in St-Marie-Porto-Vecchio. Stella d'Oro in Bonifacio (for aubergine à la bonifacienne).