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.
Near the village of Tarabucetta, outside of Figari on the southern tip of Corsica, Yves Canarelli is championing the restoration of native Corsican varietals. The appellation Corse Figari lies along a plateau just inland from the coast, where grapes have been farmed since the 5th century B.C. Though Figari is regarded as the most ancient growing region of Corsica, it has taken pioneers like Yves having the courage to rip out entire vineyards of foreign varietals before Corsican wines have finally received the recognition they deserve. After nearly ten years of watching and tasting Yves’s evolution, KLWM is proud to include Clos Canarelli in our portfolio as one of the cream of the crop Corsican domaines.
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.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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