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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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A Wine Offer You Can’t Refuse


The Godfather of Corsican Wine – Betcha never thought there was one didya? Well DA BG is sayin’ there is. Only this Godfather is only legally French. But, emotionally and patriotically, He’s Corsican. ( Remember that little isalnd off the coast of France with a Strong Italian heritage?  Strong with a capital “S.”)

Eric Asimov of the New York Times has the full monty on the Godfather of Corsican Wine.

“PATRIMONIO, France — Antoine Arena was a promising law student in Paris in 1975 when the Corsican independence movement took a violent turn.

Hearing of armed battles between France and secessionists, Mr. Arena decided to quit law school. In protest, he would return to this small village in the northeast of Corsica, where his family had lived for generations. He would grow grapes and make wine.

“Everyone thought I was crazy,” Mr. Arena recalled as we walked along the steep slope of his Carco Vineyard last month. To the south in the distance, snowcapped mountains loomed. To the west, the cool blue Mediterranean beckoned. The sinuous Corsican coastline is among the most beautiful in the world, but almost no place on the island is immune from the baleful stare of the mountains.

“After I quit law studies, my father didn’t talk to me for a month,” Mr. Arena continued. “Nobody believed in viticulture. The only ones who stayed in viticulture were the ones who couldn’t succeed anywhere else.”

From that unpromising beginning, Mr. Arena went on to become a godfather of Corsican wine. Along with a few other influential pioneers, like Christian Imbert of Domaine de Torraccia and Jean-Charles Abbatucci of Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Mr. Arena has helped make Corsica one of the most exciting and distinctive wine regions in the world.

What makes Corsican wine so unusual? For one thing, the island culture shapes both the personality of the wine and the character of the winemakers. Corsica offers a melting pot of soils: limestone and clay primarily in the north, granite mostly in the south, sandstone and volcanic soils in the center. The climate is both maritime and continental, heavily influenced by the mountains. Winds are constant, including the famous Mistral from the northwest and the hot Sirocco from the south, countering the dampening effect of frequent sudden rains. And the people? Proud, fierce and independent barely begins to describe them.

“Corsica is very complicated,” said Yves Canarelli of Clos Canarelli, who makes pure precise wines from Figari and Bonifacio in the south. “It is French, but it is not. First we are Corsican, then we are French. When you’re an island, you think differently than the continent.”

This tension plays out endlessly on the island, where road signs are written in French and Corsican, but the French is habitually spray-painted over. And it’s evident in Corsica’s host of indigenous grapes, which bear a close genetic resemblance to mainland Italian and French grapes yet offer completely different expressions.

Niellucciu, the leading red grape in the north, is genetically identical to sangiovese, but Mr. Arena’s Morta Maio Patrimonio Rouge, 100 percent niellucciu, tastes like no Chianti. It’s a complex aromatic feast of red fruit and earth, pure, energetic and graceful, with streaks of flowers, herbs and minerals and a touch of funk.

In the south, the leading red grape is sciaccarellu, a facsimile of mammolo, a grape generally used for blending in central Italy. On Corsica, though, it is known for its elegance and complexity — “Corsican pinot noir,” in the words of Sébastien Poly of Domaine U Stiliccionu, who farms about 17 acres outside of Ajaccio in the south. His 2012 Damianu, made entirely of sciaccarellu, is simply beautiful, a savory mouthful of red fruit flavors you don’t want to stop drinking.

All over Corsica, the major white grape is vermentinu, which, of course, is Corsican for vermentino (known also as rolle in southern France). Corsican vermentinu tastes nothing like mainland versions. The 2010 Granit Blanc from Domaine de Vaccelli, not far from U Stiliccionu, is a precise, lip-smacking, stony mouthful, while the 2009 Blanc from Clos Venturi, in the interior of the island near Corte, is voluminous and rich, yet with a lovely mineral tang. From the north, on a granite-and-clay plateau overlooking Calvi, Camille-Anaïs Raoust of Domaine Maestracci makes a fresh, lightly smoky, deliciously austere vermentinu called E Prove Blanc.”

Read more HERE.


What are ya thinkin’?

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22 Responses to “A Wine Offer You Can’t Refuse”

  1. sheila watson says:

    great info!(as usual) never imagine corsica as a place for wine.

  2. fran dennis says:

    with ya there sheila…very complete report on some complex wines!

  3. garth branster says:

    bg – you never cease to amaze with your subject lines (and your info, of course! keep it up!

  4. jack coleman says:

    garth…stop reading my mind! da bg always suprises me as to how he’s going to lead into another post..that you would think has NO realtion to the subject line!

  5. ellie brenner says:

    garth and jack – that’s the talent of an AUTHOR…not a writer!

  6. gail bent says:

    get the impression corsica is THE undiscovered “treasure of France.”

  7. henri mortaine says:

    kudos for bringing corisca and it’s attraédctions to wider recognition. it is a truly fantasic isle, with much to offer.

  8. billy bob barnhill says:

    never realized there could be such a variety in wines..until i started reading DA BG. now, i’m getting up to speed..and it’s fantastic!

  9. ken mortenson says:

    hopefully your excellent post will not encourage a massive tourist avalanche to this incredible island..

  10. april stevens says:

    good to know there are still places like corsica left..;with a great variety and strong character undulited by mass tourism.

  11. ian summers says:

    if his “offer you can’t refuse”….is to taste his wine…..i’ll be coming to this godfather “for my justice.”

  12. doris clamins says:

    ian….that’s an offer i wouldn’t DARE refuse!

  13. jeff stemmer says:

    this guy is a godfather i would LOVE to meet!

  14. mal funch says:

    after reading this..i wonder how many ex-lawyers are now winemakers?

  15. carl obderlander says:

    interesting point mal….(almost as interesting as your last name..lol)

  16. mal funch says:

    carl…happy i could bring a little joy to your (mundane?) existence.
    and hey, rasie a glass for me..ok!

  17. carl obderlander says:

    mal – will do – you silver tongued devil!

  18. bravo for(once again) expanding our wine consciousness!

  19. wendy parks says:

    after this post – will definitely be looking for these wines. sound fantastic.(oh hurry up virtual tasting!)

  20. count me in 110% on that “virtual Tasting” Edddie. (I’d like to becomer an expert – lol!)

  21. more great info -that we’d never find elsewhere. keep it up bg!

  22. the “wine godfather’s” story seems to be another positive example of what can happen when you “follow your bliss.”

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