One of the pioneers of the Patrimonio appellation as we know it today, Yves Leccia helped put Corsica on the map for wine enthusiasts in France and beyond. Now at the peak of his art, he continues to represent his island through impeccable interpretations of his home terroir, bottling up all the elements that make Corsica so special in salivating fashion. His Niellucciu-based rosé is so fresh, pure, and invigorating—delivering a healthy dose of Mediterranean brine—that I can’t help but to liken it to a plunge into crystal-clear waters on a sun-drenched afternoon.
We love a light, crisp, lemony Vermentino, but the great terroirs of Patrimonio, where Jean-Baptiste Arena plies his trade, yield an altogether different expression of the grape locally known as Malvasgia. Grotte di Sole, or “grottoes of sun,” is an imposing south-facing limestone slope that soaks up the fierce rays of Corsican sunshine from morning to nightfall, giving a substantial white with a plump, creamy, mouth-filling presence on the palate. Now picture the little quaffers Vermentino makes in lesser sites—this wine eats them for breakfast.
In an arid, rugged offshoot of the Patrimonio appellation known as the Désert des Agriates, the Giacometti family creates wines that reflect the rustic nature of the land without sacrificing approachability or generous, juicy fruit. The perfume of this Sciaccarellu leaps out of the glass with such exuberance that it can barely be contained, flamboyantly mimicking the vivid scent of fresh-pressed berries, as if a fistful of ripe summer fruit had been smooshed against a hot stone. The name is Corsican for “always happy,” and you’ll understand exactly why immediately upon pulling the cork.
With Jean-Charles Abbatucci, it is all too easy to get entranced in geeky minutiae about forgotten grape varieties, his latest biodynamic farming innovations, and Corsican wine history. But with a cold glass of his rosé, all this cerebral trivia takes a back seat to the visceral experience of sheer pleasure. It is made from mostly Sciaccarellu grapes grown with care in granitic soils, subject to a slow, delicate pressing and cool, natural fermentation. If you could taste a Corsican breeze, it might resemble this—herbaceous, gently floral, and pleasantly salty.
A favorite among our staff, Maestracci’s Clos Reginu is the ideal portal to experiencing a medley of Corsican flavors without the concentration or tannic might the island’s reds often carry. Vigneronne Camille-Anaïs Raoust blends young-vine Niellucciu, Grenache, Sciaccarellu, Syrah, and Mourvèdre without any oak for a vibrant translation of Corsica’s natural beauty. Expect fragrant maquis flowers and spicy herbs plus a dollop of brambly fruit over a buoyant frame. Serve it cool, naturally.
The term riacquistu refers to a Corsican national pride movement that originated in the 1970s, encompassing factions as diverse as a renewed emphasis on the Corsican language, the creation of militant nationalist groups, and the return of Corsican emigrants to their homeland. It 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 terroirs and native grape varieties. Yves Canarelli’s Costa Nera, one of the only bottlings of pure Carcaghjolu Neru, could be considered a direct descendant of this island-wide reckoning. This nearly extinct heirloom cépage creates a deeply colored, stately red intensely perfumed of graphite, menthol, spices, and iron. Regally structured with a backbone of densely packed, yet incredibly silky tannins, this rare red stands level with top bottlings from Cornas, Bandol, and southern Italy.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa