The Island Beauty of Corsica
Corsica is widely seen as a haven of fine wine. A relatively small island situated between the southeast of France and western Italy, it lies just above Sardinia and benefits hugely from its Mediterranean surroundings. With no less than 9 wine appellations, this island is well worth exploring.
Winemaking on Corsica can be traced back over 2000 years, with expertise and knowledge of surrounding countries, and the island itself, melding into a unique craftmanship that Corsica holds with pride. Wine is produced under French guidelines and often fetch high prices, even under its IGP title - Ile de Beaute (Island Beauty) - as a whole. Although wines vary in type, they are known for having intensity that does not impede their fine delicacy.
Although classed as a French wine region, its proximity to Sardinia and mainland Italy heavily influences its wines too. In fact, the two main grapes grown are of Italian heritage - white Vermentino (aka Rolle) and red Niellucciu (aka Sangiovese). Popular French varieties include Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, often creating wonderful blends when crafted with their Corsican or Italian relatives. Native grapes such as Biancu Gentil or Sciaccarello add true Corsican flavour to the mix.
Grapes benefit from the warm climate in combination with cooling ocean breezes. This allows a good range of grapes to thrive, especially with lots of excellent soils made up mainly of clay, sand, granite and limestone. The result can be a delicate, crisp white wine to a full flavoured, velvety red.
We have been lucky enough to source two excellent examples of what Corsica can offer with Domaine Barcelo, who offer wines expressing all the attributes of a high-end Corsican wine at a reasonable price. Located in the town of Aghione on the east coast, the Barcelo estate vineyards are located between sea and mountain, and wines harmonise continental and indigenous grape varieties.
Barcelo Ile de Beaute Rouge blends Niellucciu with Merlot grapes that are picked at ideal ripeness before controlled fermentation and daily pumping during a maceration period of 10 days. A fresh and supple wine with aromatic notes of red fruits and spices, the silky palate shows well-integrated tannins with a generous attack of fruit.
Barcelo Ile de Beaute Blanc blends Vermentino with Biancu Gentil grapes that are picked in the coolness of night to preserve flavours, before fermentation in stainless steel and no oak treatment. The result is a fine wine with an expressive, complex nose of citrus and white flowers. The fresh and sumptuous palate ends with a pleasant fruity acidity.