Our collection of reds from Corsica now has the kind of depth and variety that our collection of Loire, Rhône, Languedoc, and Beaujolais reds has long possessed. The Île de Beauté, as the French refer to Corsica, is blessed with incredible geological complexity and terroirs that are magically suited to the vine. This blend of Sciaccarellu, Grenache, and Syrah is from the eastern side of the island, in the foothills of the steep central mountains that plunge into the ocean, planted in the glacially polished stones of an old riverbed. Dark, full-bodied, and structured, this rouge channels the Rhône with its meaty, brambly fruit infused with flavors of black olive tapenade and woodsmoke.
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.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
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