An island in the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica sits only 90 kilometres from Italy’s west coast and is the home of a large range of grape varieties that resident wine producers craft into subtle rosés and rare, dry white wines (with a few red wines to complete the triage). After coming under French rule in 1769, it has become one of the 26 wine regions of France, yet still having Italian nuances shine through both their culture and their wine.
Continuing to mix cultures and traditions in the towns and in the cellars, there was a large influx of Algerian immigrants in the 1950s following the country’s established independence from France. Among these immigrants were many winemakers, all choosing to plant new vines and set up vineyards filled with more alternative grape varietals. The density of vines has now reached 1,000 vines per acre in Corsica.
Climate & Soil
As a clear reflection of its location, Corsica enjoys a Mediterranean climate where there is more sunshine than any mainland region of France. Additionally this leads to less rainfall, encouraging a high yielding viticulture with rain only falling during the winter months and leaving the optimal weather for harvest season. With almost no threat of mildew and rot, the yields must all be kept in check to ensure there is still plenty of concentration in each grape.
Yet the island is not all of one similar terroir, as Corsica is the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean Sea and as a result has an array of meso-climates and soils chipped away from these many mountains. Based with granite and rich in silica, the soil works in the favour of the grapes to help produce wines of finesse and minerality.
While these grapes thrive with no threat to mildew, there are extreme winds that sweep across the island. From the west, the Libeccio wind encourages rain to sweep through the west coast more often than most, and in the northeast the Gregale wind also brings rain in. Contrastingly the wind hailing from Provence is highly violent yet dry, encouraging a sweep through the vines and keeping them from drawing in the excess rain. While the winds may be difficult to control, the winemakers have found ways to train the vines to grow in a sturdy, goblet style to anchor themselves to the soil.
Unconnected by land, and therefore isolated from all other wine regions of France, Corsica has continued to diversify and expand the grape varieties they have on offer. With over 30 different varietals, they are a combination of French, Italian, and Spanish grapes.
Pinot Noir can be found growing alongside Tempranillo and Barbarossa, an unheard of situation but all possible within the meso-climates of Corsica. For the AOC wines there are three championed grapes; Nielluccio, Sciacarello and Vermentino.
Corsica is completely umbrellaed by the regional Vin de Corse appellation, with seven AOCs within it and the first, Patrimonio, being established in 1968. Found spread out along the coast, the AOCs are: Porto-Vecchio, Figari, Sartene, Calvi, Sartene, Patrimonio and Coteaux du Cap Corse. With the Coteaux du Cap Corse winemakers also producing sweet, white vin doux naturel under the title Muscat du Cap Corse.
The quality of AOC wines in Corsica continues to grow and thrive, but while they continue to expand the majority of existing Corsican wines are made under a more relaxed IGP title named Ile de Beaute (The Isle of Beauty). This labelling currently produces more than twice the amount of wine currently sold with an AOC label and continues to be a highly popular wine choice from the region.
Information Credit to: Wine Searcher