You might have read the story of “when Vermentinu met Biancu Gentile,” an introduction to our new cuvée from Antoine Arena, in last month’s newsletter. Here we have a different, equally fascinating Vermentinu/Biancu Gentile blend from another hero of the Corsican heirloom varietal movement. Back in the 90s, at the time when Yves Leccia discovered a tiny block of presumed-extinct Biancu Gentile, it is estimated there was only a single acre of this ancient vine left on earth. He and a small group of Corsican vignerons (including Arena) salvaged what they could, carefully selecting budwood with the hope of propagating, grafting, and eventually giving new life to a phantom limb of Corsican viticultural history. “It is certainly on a background of nostalgia that I made the choice years ago—a bit daring, certainly—to diversify the production of the estate by reintroducing old grape varieties.” Yves acknowledges a deep connection, learned from his father, between heritage and terroir, and crafts his wines from the same varieties which his ancestors (including his father and grandfather) cultivated. “These grape varieties bring extra soul to my wines. I feel that they participate fully in the ampelographic heritage that makes up all the wealth and identity of our beautiful Corsica.” Thirty years later, Yves now has a healthy Biancu Gentile vineyard—one hectare in Partinelone, a quintessential Patrimonio terroir of pure schist with slopes that face the Ligurian Sea and channel an ample coastal breeze from the Gulf of St. Florent. Corsica is undoubtedly an island anchored by ancient roots, and the heirloom grapes growing here have a story to tell. Yves listens, and makes wines of total Corsican clarity. His Île de Beauté Blanc is composed of 60% Vermentinu and 40% Biancu Gentile. The Vermentinu provides lush, generous texture and a mineral backbone; the Biancu Gentile adds layers of complexity, precision, and island-born aromatics—think sea spray, citrus blossom, wild maquis… is it possible to smell sunshine? There’s something special in your glass, something rare… something that almost never was. Taste the fruits of tenacious, genuinely Corsican labor—there’s nothing quite like it.
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