Corsica is making great progress in wine. Quality is still sometimes unpredictable (but where is that not the case?) but you can find plenty of good wines, both white, red and sweet.
Patrimonio, in northern Corsica, is home to many of the best Corsican wines. The chalky soil is good for wine growing, the winds are less strong compared to some other places. There is no co-operative on this part of the island. The 32 wineries share the 450 hectares. You can also find sweet white wines from this part of Corsica but then they are called Muscat du Cap Corse.
Niellucciu is the dominant grape in Patrimonio. It is a grape variety that is related to the Sangiovese, found in Tuscany, which is sometimes quite evident. The vintage 2002 from Domaine Gentile has exactly the characteristics that I find typical in Corsican wines: full-bodied, with a fair amount of tannin and a hint of “animal” (game, leather…). Domaine Gentile’s white wine is made from Vermentino (called Rolle in Provence) and is dry and refreshing with a contrasting earthy or minerally character. In general, Corsican wines actually have more elegance than one might expect from a district so far south. Perhaps it is the high altitude and the strong winds that moderate the otherwise high temperatures.
A relative newcomer in Patrimonio is Clos Signadore. They made their first vintage in 2001. Eresi 2005, made from 80% Niellucciu and 20% Grenache, is a quaffable, easygoing wine while the cuvée prestige, called simply Clos, with 100% Niellucciu is more typically Corsican with flavours of spices and herbs and even juniper. Quite elegant and very good.
Another (new) recommended producer in Patrimonio is Yves Leccia, making wine on 12 hectares. He makes a very attractive white Vermentino with quite a lot of “fat” (‘gras’ in French, giving the wine a round, soft and full-bodied character) but also a fresh acidity. He uses no oak and he does not let the wine go through the malolactic fermentation. He makes several red wines, e.g. “Patrimonio 2004” from 90% Niellucciu and 10% Grenache. Here the relation to Sangiovese is very apparent: a certain dryness and aromas of cherry stones, a high acidity and a good body.
- Jean-Paul Gentile, Domaine Gentile, AC Patrimonio
- Clos Signadore, AC Patrimonio
- Yves Leccia, Domaine d’E Croce, AC Patrimonio
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