There are no less than 9 “AOP” (protected designation of origin) regions for wine in Corsica. Both quality reds and whites can be found with a large variety in strength and taste. This variety is brought both by the diversity of Corsican vine soils (calcar, schist, granite, clay), the altitude of the vines and the proximity of the sea . Corsican wines are also made unique by the use of grapes that are seldom used outside of the island; mainly Sciaccarellu (mostly in the South), Niellucciu (mostly in the North) for red wines and Vermentinu for the whites.
Traditionally, the two main regions where the “star wines” could be found were Patromonio, in the north of
You can seriously consider organising a wine tour in Corsica and Patrimonio is probably the place to spend most of your time, offering the most variety and quality wines. Moreover contrary to busy regions such as Bordelais or Burgundy, here, vinegrowers are accessible and wine tasting usually free and without pre-booking.
If you run short of time, the best cellar for advice, tasting and purchase (prices are usually quite similar to those of the producers in direct) is certainly the Chemin des Vignobles, located in Ajaccio and ran by the charismatic and expert sommelier Nicolas Stromboni.
Wine tasting in Patromonio
Patrimonio is a region with a very large variey of soils over a very small surface and benefiting from the coastal winds reducing the impact of heat on grapes. Therefore, the "Terroir" will play great importance in the wine and you can find great differences across producers, simply based on where the vinyeard is located. Balanced and well-rounded reds as well as fruity whites and sweet wines (muscats and vendange tardives) can all be found there. "AOP" red are based on 70% or more of Nielluciu grape and whites on Vermentinu. Recently, an increasing number of producers have brought in other grapes to expand their range: Grenache, Sciacarellu for the red wines and Bianco Gentile for the whites.
It is definitely worth planning two days for visits. Although Patrimonio is the name of a village, the “AOP” region of Patrimonio comprises of 7 “communes” that have organised themselves around an easy to follow “wine road”: Patrimonio, Barbaggio, Saint-Florent, Farinole, Oletta, Poggio d'Oletta amd Santo-Pietro-di-Tenda.
Some of the “must see” Patrimonio producers currently (a very personal view):
Domaine d'Annette Leccia (a little out of the way but worth the detour for its reds and its delightful “vendange tardive”) offers not only great wines but also wines grown based on biodynamic principles.
Also following the biodynamic trend and offering a nice variety of reds as well as a "back to tradition" version of muscat named "Solera", is the Domaine Giudicelli.
Next door is the now popular Domaine d'E Croce , ran by the charismatic Yves Leccia, always trying for original and innovative new wines.
Almost neighbour to it is Clos Signadore, a fairly recent but already very popular estate, representing fairly well the new growing wave of corsican wine producers, offering an exceptional cuvée names A Mandria di Signadore and other surprises...
Domaine Gentile (known especially for the longevity of its red wines) is one of the longest standing and iconic wine-grower in Patrimonio.
Domaine Arena is another iconic place. Don't be fooled by rough aspect of its cellar, or the absence of a website. Antoine Arena, the father, has been leading the way for some 20 years or more of the rebirth of Patrimonio as a land of quality. He is now followed by his two sons, Antoine-Marie and Jean-Baptiste who have both brought their character and feelings to create a larger diversity in their "cuvée". Originally renowned for its white wines (especially its rodcution based on old vine "bianco gentile"), it is now hard to find a flaw in the rich selection the father and his two sons now deliver, white or red! A must-try in Patrimonio.
Going south, deeper, long lasting red wines from the Sciacarellu vine can be found. In terms of fast-rising new producers, the Sartene area offers two that are really worth a detour:
www.santarmettu.com (cuvee Myrtus red is now becoming an extremely popular red)
www.domaine-fiumicicoli.fr (cuvee Vassilia white recommended)
The Domaine Abbatucci also offers exceptional biodynamic-grown reds and whites (Cuvée Faustine is a must-try).
A little further south, near Figari, lies the Clos Canarelli, a now popular producer known for its long lasting, deep red wines.
We apologise for all those not mentioned... there are plenty of truly exceptional producers across the island and it will be up to you to explore and make your own opinion!
For full details about Corsican wine AOPs, you can also consult the French website: http://www.vinsdecorse.com