Thursday, July 18, 2013

Corsican Wine, The New Surprise

When I heard we were getting some Corsican wines imported by Kermit Lynch, I didn’t know what to expect. Corsica is an island just off the coast of Italy and while Corsica is technically French (acquired from the Genoese in 1764,) its history and culture, its food and wine are Italian. We received wines from two producers. The wines from Domaine Maestracci are ripe and accessible and a little less expensive, while the wines from Domaine Abbatucci opened up new dimensions of flavor. When I tasted the wines, I was amazed by their brilliance and intensity. As a whole, the wines are characterized by ripe, acid-driven fruits with complex structure driven by lush minerals and fine tannins and express the rocky granite soils and the salty island breezes.

The Domaine is run by Jean-Charles Abbatucci, a direct descendant of General Jean-Charles Abbatucci, a hero of the French Revolution and comrade in arms of another local hero, Napoleon. The grapes are indigenous Corsican varieties, many of them recovered from small farmers in the mountains and reintroduced into producing vineyards by Jean Charles’ father thus saving them from extinction.

The Abbatucci estate is in the granite mountains south of the capitol of Ajaccio with vines planted on ancient terraces among groves of olive trees and sheep foraging on the grass covering between the vines. The vineyards are totally organic and certified biodynamic. To keep the vines happy, Jean-Charles is known to drive his tractor around the vineyards and play traditional Corsican polyphonic music over loudspeakers. After harvest, he does the same in the cellar. Does it work? Have a taste for yourself.

Ajaccio Blanc “Cuvee Faustine” 2012 $33.99
100% old vine Vermentinu hand harvested at extremely low yields (20 hl/ha). Slow, cold fermentation in stainless steel yields a brilliant bone dry yet lush wine with rich suggestions of stone fruits and a shimmering minerality.

Ajaccio Rose “Cuvee Faustine” 2012 $29.99
100% Sciaccarellu, vinified in stainless steel. Very crisp and clean, perfumed with notions of strawberries, the wine is bone dry, yet has a rich presence on the palate.

Ajaccio Rouge “ Cuvee Faustine” 2011 $33.99
70% Sciaccarellu, 30% Niellucciu fermented entirely in stainless steel. Intense light ruby in color with aromas of flowers, minerals and red berries, the delicate flavors intensify into rich pure cherries with a long mineral finish lifted by the lingering fruit and fine tannins.

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