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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Corsican Wines: a Well Kept Little Secret

Winemaker's daughter at Domaine Leccia

The most famous Corsican, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, may have been French, but until three months before his birth in 1769, the island was controlled under the rule of the Italians.  Italy still dominates in terms of Corsica’s wine scene as its grape varieties and winemaking traditions are Italian in origin.
Most of Corcica’s vineyards are located around the coast.  The leading grapes are Sangiovese and Vermentino.  There are 9 designated wine regions, the oldest of which is Patrimonio (1968).   It was here that I was based for 2 weeks, with day trips to the Cap Corse and Calvi wine regions.

I was most impressed by the island’s whites made from the Vermentino grape.  This varietal, which thrives on the Italy’s northwest mainland (Liguria & Tuscany), reaches super-star status on the island of Sardenia…just few miles from Corsica.  Currently one of the most popular white wine grapes in Italy, Vermentino is also catching on in the US.

So what is it about Vermentino that is so appealing?  Is it the subtle floral and fruity aromatics (think citrus, apricot, pineapple & tropical) that I love most?  Or is it the well-rounded mouthfeel that is beautifully balanced with a refreshing acidity?  Vermentino was a perfect match with Corsica’s shellfish, grilled fish or free range chickens.  And, Vermentino is often one of our "go to" wines wines on a warm day at our home near San Diego, California.

The following, listed in alphabetical order, stood out as the best of those wines that are exported to the North America:
·        Antoine Arena
·        Clos Nicrosi
·        Leccia

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