Muriel Giudicelli grew up visiting family on the island of Corsica and in the mid-1990s finally decided to stay put in a subregion of the Patrimonio appellation called Campo Gallo, where she has since been making biodynamic wines with a deft, gentle touch. Her blanc, made from 100% Vermentinu, is one of the headiest Corsican wines I’ve enjoyed. It’s beautifully ethereal, with pillowy fruit that tastes so sublime it would be limiting to attempt a description, although quince and verbena jump to mind. There’s tension and minerality, too, with an acidity so bright it bursts on your tongue like pearls of finger lime.
During her studies, Muriel Giudicelli befriended Antoine Arena, who, one day in 1996, called her up and told her about a retiring vigneron with terrific old vines, no children to take over, in a great part of Patrimonio, who was looking to sell. Muriel jumped at the opportunity, bought those 5 hectares of vines, and in 1997 began making wine. From day one, she farmed organically. She obtained organic certification in 2006 and biodynamic certification in 2012. Muriel’s original holdings, as well as newer ones she has added since then, are all in the highly regarded Campo Gallo (“field of the rooster”) sub-region of Patrimonio, distinct due to its diverse pockets of green clay, red clay, granite, schist, and limestone. Yves Leccia’s parcels border hers. Today she has 10 hectares in total, which she works with her husband (he’s in charge of the vines, she’s in charge of the cellar) and only one employee.
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.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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