The term riacquistu—literally, reacquisition—refers to a Corsican cultural movement that originated in the 1970s, encompassing components such as a renewed emphasis on the Corsican language, a celebration of the arts, and the return of Corsican emigrants to their homeland. This desire to reclaim an authentic cultural identity marked a turning point not just in Corsican culture but also in Corsican wine, as vignerons began to show a newfound appreciation for the island’s unique terroirs, traditional techniques, and native grape varieties. The catalyst for this cultural awakening took place in 1975 among the sprawling vineyards of Corsica’s eastern coast. Following Algerian independence in 1962, a large influx of French colonists resettled to Corsica. Dubbed rapatriés or pieds-noirs, they numbered roughly 17,000 in Corsica alone, increasing the island’s population by more than ten percent. Upon their arrival, many received sizable land grants from a French government keen on reintegration, effectively quadrupling Corsica’s area under vine. Native Corsican farmers—primarily small landowners—did not take kindly to the subsidies that afforded their new neighbors so much fertile real estate. To add insult to injury, some rapatriés began mass-producing bulk wine using new industrial practices and partook in illegal practices such as excess chaptalization. Consequently, the image of Corsican wine suffered severely, and the small-scale farmers who predated the rapatriés paid the price. A tense climate finally boiled over in August of 1975, when a small group of armed Corsicans occupied a rapatrié-owned cellar suspected of wine fraud in the rural village of Aléria. A two-day-long standoff culminated in violent intervention led by 1,200 government forces, resulting in protests and additional clashes across the island. The events of Aléria served as an awakening to Corsicans. Extremists in favor of independence from France took up arms for their cause, launching a decades-long conflict that often turned violent. These highly publicized incidents, carried out by a radical minority of the population, largely overshadowed more positive outcomes from Aléria: a veritable cultural renaissance whose effects rippled across the arts, education, and crucially for Corsican wine, agriculture. Young professionals, who had been encouraged to leave the island in search of prosperity on the French mainland, returned to Corsica in numbers with a renewed sense of pride in their homeland, its history, and its customs: so began the riacquistu. Upon hearing news of the tensions back home, Antoine Arena, a young Corsican pursuing a law career in Nice, returned to take the reins of his family’s small farm in the northern village of Patrimonio. “Wine was the emblem of the whole movement, as well as the spark that set it off,” explains Antoine’s son Jean-Baptiste, who now farms these vineyards alongside his brother, Antoine-Marie. Determined to work his vines traditionally—without chemical products or enological shortcuts—their father took a strong stand against industrialization of Corsica’s wines. His faith in Corsican terroir would ultimately help put the island on the map for wine lovers on mainland France and abroad. Others soon followed, making Corsica the hotbed for fine wine that it is today. In the hills around Ajaccio, Antoine Abbatucci created a nursery of indigenous varieties on the brink of extinction in the 1960s. His son, Jean-Charles, replanted these heirloom treasures and today bottles mind-bending cuvées from the likes of Biancu Gentile, Carcaghjolu Neru, Minustellu, and Riminese. The first to apply biodynamics to Corsican vineyards, Abbatucci is also reviving ancient farming practices he refers to as “historical viticulture.” His return to the roots of Corsican wine has resulted in singular bottlings coursing with vibrant energy and spicy local character. Meanwhile, in the south, Yves Canarelli recently became the first to replant the historic limestone terroir of Bonifacio on land that had been abandoned for over a century. His majestic, chalky “Tarra di Sognu” line shows why Bonifacio was once considered one of Corsica’s most prestigious crus, while other experiments bubbling away in his cellar represent a brilliant nod to both the past and future of Corsican winemaking. This discounted collection celebrates these pioneering vignerons and recognizes the complex sociopolitical pressures that, directly or not, led to their success. The featured wines are direct descendants of the island-wide reckoning that began in the 1970s. Corsica’s riacquistu lives on with these bottles, displaying the Île de Beauté’s identity in all its splendid glory: tenacious and soulful, forged by Mediterranean sunshine, sea salt, and wild maquis herbs.
Corsica’s riacquistu lives on with these bottles, displaying the Île de Beauté’s identity in all its splendid glory: tenacious and soulful, forged by Mediterranean sunshine, sea salt, and wild maquis herbs.
Home to nearly a dozen grape varieties and even more styles of vinifying them, Alsace offers endless stimulation and reward to the open-minded wine drinker. Now through the end of May, take 20% off wines in this collection
It’s that time of year! We have begun to receive the latest vintage of rosés from our producers in France and Italy and will update this page as more arrive in Berkeley. Check back here regularly for your favorite rosés!
In 1976, when I was busy being born as a wine importer, Richard Olney guided me through the French vineyards. He introduced me to Domaine Tempier, Clape, Chave, and other incomparable sources. In the Beaujolais we visited Château Thivin and Georges Duboeuf. I chose to pursue Thivin
Sauvignon Blanc comes in many forms, and we've put them all together right here for your enjoyment. You’ll find classics from its spiritual home in the Loire Valley, as well as characterful renditions from Bordeaux and Friuli.
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