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.
The list of factors goes on and our list of overachievers could, too. For now, we’ve narrowed down our selections to twenty-four wines—four each at six price points, because tremendous value isn’t exclusive to inexpensive bottlings. You can find it at all prices, from $12 to $120, as these wines resoundingly show.
Few wines pair better with grilled foods than a savory, smoky expression of Syrah. Additionally, its characteristic spice and assertive flavor make it a great partner to many dishes in Indian, Pakistani, Persian, North African, and eastern Mediterranean cuisines, without forgetting its affinity to rustic French cooking.
Many of our best values, all in one place for your browsing pleasure: bargain whites, rosés, reds, and even a couple of sparklers, made by real people and reefer-shipped so they arrive in your hands in nothing less than perfect condition.
Her wonderfully complex terroir of schist, granite, and galets roulés (alluvial riverbed stones) produces some of the most ethereal rosés you’ll ever taste. And the olive oil—well, it isn’t easy for us to get as excited about olive oil as about wine, but when you taste these, you’ll understand why they have become Corsica’s pride and joy.
You will be hard pressed to find better wines anywhere in the Côte Chalonnaise, and don’t underestimate their appellations—de Villaine wines routinely outperform more prestigious, more expensive appellations.
In very few appellations throughout France and Italy do we import the wines of three or more domaines. Joining Bandol, Meursault, Morgon, and a few others in that short list is Pic Saint-Loup, situated forty-five minutes north of Montpellier.
The Geggiano winemaking operation is about as artisanal as can be, housed in a thirteenth-century cellar filled with nothing but old wooden casks, where the elixir of these Tuscan hillsides patiently blossoms to maturity...
While Barolo and Barbaresco are aged for years in wood before release, many growers also bottle a fresher, lighter, more approachable expression of the variety under the Langhe Nebbiolo denomination...
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