Yves’ thoughtful blend is unabashedly Corsican: fresh, slightly tart, and delightfully easy to drink. There is something special in your glass, something rare…
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.
Raised in a small village in the heart of Patrimonio, Yves worked alongside his father in the vines and cellar at the earliest age he could. The Leccias have been making wine from the finest terroirs of Patrimonio for countless generations. Originally working alongside his sister, he decided to branch off on his own in 2004 and focus on the terroir he felt was best. “E Croce” sits on a thin chalk soil above a bedrock of pure schist, facing the gulf of St. Florent. Yves is a firm believer in the idea that if you want something done right you need to do it yourself, tending his vines alone and working the cellar by himself. He keeps his yields low, knows when to harvest , and knows how to let E Croce express itself in the wines.
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
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