On the gentle slopes of Corsica’s flatter, eastern coast, Domaine de Marquiliani enjoys much different conditions than producers in renowned wine zones like Patrimonio, Calvi, Ajaccio, Sartène, and Figari on the west side. Sandwiched between the sea and the towering, craggy peaks that make up the spinal cord of this astounding Mediterranean landmass, the area experiences a fresher, damper climate, with cool breezes coming down from the snow-capped Monte Rinosu, one of the island’s tallest summits. Vigneronne Anne Amalric, who currently heads the small family farm, crafts some of the island’s—if not the world’s—most ethereal rosés here, as well as vividly perfumed olive oils from heirloom varieties. And as of 2015, Anne also crafts a bit of rouge from her vineyards of Sciaccarellu, Syrah, and Grenache. In contrast with the chewy, resinous, almost wild reds from the aforementioned appellations, hers mirrors the character of the domaine’s rosés: delicate, perfumed, uncomplicated, and dangerously swallowable. A perfect summer red loaded with freshness, bright fruit, and smooth tannins, it demands to be chilled and gulped with or without food—no need to think about it too hard. Anne’s rouge is a different face of Corsican wine; and with this red, Marquiliani continues to embody the most elemental form of island pleasure.
The Amalric family has farmed Domaine de Marquiliani since the 1950s. Daniel Amalric earned great recognition for his wines, as he was the first to plant Niellucciu and Syrah on this side of the island. In 1995, he was joined by his daughter, Anne, an agricultural chemist who had returned from mainland France to take her place at the family farm. She works side-by-side with her father and is quick to credit him as her guiding light in the vineyards and the cellar. In spite of her modesty, Anne has become a success in her own right. Her wine made an instant impression on Kermit, who raves, “Drinking her rosé is like drinking a cloud. There’s an absolute weightlessness to it. Nothing is left on the palate but perfume.”
I first set foot on the island in 1980. I remember looking down from the airplane window seeing alpine forest and lakes and thinking, uh oh, I got on the wrong plane. Then suddenly I was looking down into the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean. Corsica is a small, impossibly tall island, the tail of the Alp chain rising out of the blue sea.—Kermit Lynch
Kermit’s first trip to the island proved fruitful, with his discovery of Clos Nicrosi’s Vermentino. More than thirty years later, the love affair with Corsica has only grown as we now import wines from ten domaines that cover the north, south, east, and west of what the French affectionately refer to as l’Île de Beauté.
Corsica is currently experiencing somewhat of a renaissance—interest has never been higher in the wines and much of this is due to growers focusing on indigenous and historical grapes found on the island. Niellucciu, Sciarcarellu, and Vermentinu are widely planted but it is now common to find bottlings of Biancu Gentile and Carcaghjolu Neru as well as blends with native varieties like Rossola Bianca, Minustellu, or Montaneccia.
As Kermit described above, Corsica has a strikingly mountainous landscape. The granite peaks top out above 9,000 feet. The terroir is predominantly granite with the exception of the Patrimonio appellation in the north, which has limestone, clay, and schist soils.The wines, much like their southern French counterparts make for great pairings with the local charcuterie, often made from Nustrale, the native wild boar, as well as Brocciu, the Corsican goats milk cheese that is best served within 48 hours of it being made.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Inspiring Thirst, page 174
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