Corsica is a mountainous island in the Mediterranean just north of Sardinia, west of Italy and south east of France. Corsica has been a pawn in the game of war for centuries. Corsica is best known as the birth place and early childhood home of Napoleon Bonaparte; however, as the wines produced on Corsica are increasing in exportation and gaining international recognition, Corsica is being recognized as a unique wine producing region.
In his 2015 article titled “Corsican Wines Speak a Language of Their Own,” Eric Asimov wrote “Corsica [is] one of the most exciting and distinctive wine regions in the world.” According to Mr Asimov the island culture contributes to the unusual nature of the wines and wine makers.
Overall the small island of Corsica is a complicated place. Like Languedoc, it contains a patchwork of soils including limestone, clay, volcanic, sandstone, and granite. The climate is both maritime and continental and heavily influenced by the mountains. The winds blow continually and comprise of the Mistral (that affects a large area of southern France) blowing from the northwest, and the Sirocco blowing from the south. The people of Corsica have an independent island state of mind that reminds me in some ways of the Sicilians; they claim they are Corsican first, French second. Ironically, many of the grapes grown on Corsica are both Italian and French, with a Corsican twist, of course. Grapes from Rhone and Provence are found intermingled within the 9 AOC regions, but it is quite possible the Corsican version of Vermentino, known as Vermentinu, is the star of the island. It offers a completely unique expression of a well-known grape.
Join me as our French Winophiles group explores the wines of Corsica.
As much attention as Corsica is receiving these days the wines have not made their way to Texas. I would like to thank my friend Martin Redmond of Enofylz Wine Blog for assisting me in procuring some Corsican wines from K&L Wine Merchant in San Francisco. Here are the wines I opened for this article:
2015 Domaine Santamaria Patrimonio Blanc Corsica ($21.99): 100% Vermentinu; clear deep gold in the glass; clean medium aromas of green fruit and vegetal notes, white pepper, grass, savory dried herbs, crushed stone, steel wool, cedar, honey, and a firm minerality; bone dry, austere, medium+ acid that is sour, medium+ alcohol, full-body, it tastes a bit tannic, creamy mouth-coating viscosity and has a weight to it that tasted blind may be confused as a red wine; unique does not begin to describe this delicious wine.
2011 Domaine Santamaria Patrimonio Rouge Corsica ($24.99): 100% Nielluccio (aka Sangiovese); clear deep ruby with garnet hues; clean medium aromas of rustic red fruit, dried savory herbs, dried red floral notes, dusty earth, dried tobacco, dark cocoa, minerality, damp forest floor; medium acidity, pronounced tannins, full-body, long tart earthy finish; a complex wine that in some ways feels familiar yet unique, definitely possesses the rustic quality of Italian wines but with a flavor profile that veers away from traditional Italian Sangiovese; it took some time to relax but once it did – wow.
I chose to pair the Domaine Santamaria Patrimonio Blanc with an Asian inspired meal consisting of ginger soy chicken satay and zucchini, carrot, and peanut noodles with a honey soy dressing. The wine was a wonderful match to the meal and something I would look forward to having again.
There were suggestions online to pair the Domaine Santamaria Patrimonio Rouge with a hearty Italian meal, so that is what I did. I defrosted some Bolognese sauce I had made a few months ago to pair with the wine. It was a good suggestion. The wine paired very well with the dish, illustrating it was a better wine with food than without. Both Bolognese and the wine were even better the following night!
Check out my fellow #Winophiles Corsican discoveries:
LYNN FROM SAVOR THE HARVEST Shares THE INTRIGUE OF CORSICAN WINES
JANE FROM ALWAYS RAVENOUS Shares CORSICA FOOD AND WINE – FRENCH AND ITALIAN INFLUENCES
CAMILLA FROM CULINARY ADVENTURES WITH CAMILLA Shares FASGIOLI INCU FUNGHI + DOMAINE PETRONI CORSE ROUGE
JEFF FROM FOODWINECLICK! Shares AROMATIC FISH AND A CORSICAN
LAUREN FROM THE SWIRLING DERVISH Shares THE MYSTERIES OF CORSICA
Jill from L’OCCASION Shares MAKING WINE ON AN ISLAND
My Song Selection: Unique, up-tempo, groovy, eclectic, jazzy, smooth: these words all describe these lovely wines.
Join us at 10CST on Twitter using #Winophiles to share your thoughts and experiences with Corsican wines.
Get your own bottles of Corsican wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!