Recently, the vignerons of Patrimonio voted to ban the use of synthetic herbicides, echoing a commitment to traditional viticulture championed for decades by historic growers like Antoine Arena and already embraced by a new generation coming of age in Corsica’s cellars. For young siblings Simon and Sarah Giacometti, the choice came naturally in their quest to best express the unique corner of the appellation they call home. This white, raised in demi-muids with malolactic fermentation, flamboyantly shows off the affinity of ripe Vermentinu grapes with a judicious use of wood. Its lushness and exoticism feel like sunshine splashing over your taste buds, and then a crisp, herbaceous finale brings you back to the soil and thirsty for more. Decant it for best results, and savor the new wave of talent that is sweeping through Corsica’s greatest appellation.
In 1987, the Giacometti family boldly moved to the Agriates Desert, a large, rugged, empty swath of land between the Cap Corse and Calvi on the northern end of Corsica. They took over vines that had been planted in 1966, which authorities granted Patrimonio appellation status, even though the estate is several miles from the village of Patrimonio. The founder, Christian Giacometti, has gradually been handing over the reins to his daughter and son after 25 years of constant and heroic labor to make wine in an inhospitable land. They continue on with their unique and eminently drinkable style of Patrimonio, while experimenting with Sciaccarellu plantings (extremely rare for Patrimonio) and offering a glimpse of great things to come.
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.
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
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