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D - 35: Rosés from Corsica

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Expected to hit the maximum of grape varieties yesterday in my blog on Sardinia. But clearly had not done my research. On Corsica, there are more than 30 different types of grapes! It seems they have a love fest on the island! The three most dominant grapes are the red Nielluccio or Sangiovese, the red Sciacarello and the white Vermentino, which we found already on Sardinia. Describing 30 varieties is beyond my capacity. Most of them I never tasted. Am thus going to retreat to four rosés, which I know.

Rosé in Corsica

The topography of Corsica is well suited for cultivating wine. Thanks to the high mountains there is plenty of rain throughout the year, the sea absorbs a lot of the daily heat in summer, the falls are dry and sunny which increases the sugar content of the grapes and the mineral rich granites in the West and South provide the perfect soil. Wine grows in the coastal regions or in the mountains around 300 m altitude. When surfing the web, you easily get the impression that wine production here is a big business. But the web is deceptive. Less than 1% of the islands surface is used for viticulture and it contributes only 1.5% to total GDP (EUR 6bn). 65% of the production are rosés. Sicily is the land of whites, Sardinia the land of reds and Corsica the land of rosés. Now I understand why I only had rosés 14 years ago. The Corsicans keep most of the wine for themselves and the large number of tourists who visit every year. Tourism accounts for 2/3 of the island’s economy.

Corsica’s 8 major wine regions (1 = Cap Corse; 2 = Patrimonio; Calvi = 3; Ajaccio = 4; Sartène = 5; Figari = 6; Porto Vecchio = 7; Vins de Corse = 8)

There are lots of poetic marketing texts about the origins of wine making in Corsica. I guess it is safe to assume that the Nuragic people from Sardinia shared the secrets of wine making with their neighbors to the north. The many foreign rulers then brought their own varieties and contributed to the current multitude. Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Pisani, Genovese and French. It is a long list. Corsica got the last boost in wine making in the early 1960 when French settlers from Algeria took residence on the island. The “Pieds Noirs”, as they were called, were forced to leave the country when it gained its independence from France in 1962. Many of them were wine makers in Algeria and remained winemakers in Corsica.

One of the vineyards on the West coast with a powerful thunderstorm brewing

As promised, am going to introduce you to four rosés. But do not try to order them on vivino.com. They are either out of stock or were never available. The island produces only 15 million bottles per year, which are sold at an average price of 6 Euros. Corsican wine is affordable. You just can't get it. Or if you can, please tell me how!

Domaine Fazi, a blend from Grenache, Merlot, Cinsault and Sciacarello grapes, with the red skin of the grapes only left for a few hours to give it a hint of pink. The Grenache provides some character and body strength. It is a fresh, fruity wine and goes well with antipasto. Love it with melon and prosciutto. Delicious. Of course, you serve it cool, 6 degree is optimal. A bottle is not expensive and costs about EUR 5.50, depending on the vintage. But you need to find it first. The rosé has a ranking of 3.7 from Vivino.com.

Domaine Petroni, a blend of Nielluccio (Sangiovese), Sciacarello and Grenache, is from the north of Corsica. One of the aromatic and intense rosés. Lots of fresh red fruits, a bit of peach, clean and easy to drink. Some people think it is slightly dusty or sandy. Comes with a rating of 3.8 and is in the same price range as the rosé above. Great as a refreshing drink during the day. But a bit lethal if you have too much. It is too easy to drink (this line is for Barnaby).

Domaine Alzitana is situated on the east of the island, near Aleria, the ancient Phoenician town. This rosé is made from Sciacarello, Syrah, Grenache, Vermentino and Nielluccio and combines almost all grapes there are in Corsica – just kidding. It is floral and fresh but has body. It is suitable for more spicy food, meats and salty cheeses. With a rating of 4.0 for the 2018 vintage it is one of the more expensive rosés. You will have to fork out ten Euros.

Domaine de la Punta is the last rosé I know. Situated quite close to the Domaine Alzitana, it is nevertheless a rather different wine. It is made from 100% Sciacarello - a single grape rosé which is rare for Corsica. It has a nicely balanced character, reminds us of apricots and pears, and is easy on the palate. It goes well with all types of food. This is a wine that is sold in Luxembourg and Japan – have no idea how this came about. This rosé has a rating of 3.8

This gets me to the end of today’s blog on the island of rosés. Tomorrow, we are going to stay to talk about another plant. I will tell you a bit about the chestnut tree, which dominates the island's forests and fed people for centuries. It is also gluten free!


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