Wines by Region / Corsica
While it only recently became trendy among the Next Big Thing seekers of the wine world, Corsica has a long and illustrious history of producing wine. This picturesque island in the Mediterranean Sea is situated between the southeast coast of Provence and the west coast of Tuscany. Geographically closer to Italy, Corsica began as a subject of the Republic of Genoa from the 13th century until the middle of the 18th century. It was eventually conquered by France in 1769, but retained much of its Italian character and is today a fascinating hybrid of French and Italian culture, language, cuisine and winemaking that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Perhaps because of this hybrid past and present, Corsican winemakers are permitted to use a vast array of grape varietals grown on the island. Most use at least two of the indigenous red varietals Niellucciu (genetically identical to Sangiovese) and Sciaccarellu, while for whites Vermentino (mainly called Rolle in France) is by far the most widely planted and used grape. One also sees plenty of better-known Italian and French varietals such as Syrah and Grenache, usually alongside even more obscure indigenous varietals like Carcajolu Neru, Genovese, Morescola and Riminese, among other hard-to-pronounce names.
Being the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, and with its extremely dry, warm climate, Corsica bestows on its vines a system of microclimates that are nearly perfect for their healthy growth. Its soils, though widely varied, also contribute to this idyllic situation, with some schist, some limestone-rich chalk and clay, some granite and some marly sand.
There are now 9 designated appellations on Corsica, with Patrimonio on the north coast the first to receive this designation in 1968. Wines from anywhere on the island but not falling within the AOC borders are called IGP Ile de Beauté, and actually make up about 2/3 of the island’s production. A couple of the other more commonly seen AOCs are Ajaccio and Vin de Corse. The Muscat du Cap Corse AOC covers the vin doux naturel wines that come from Corsica’s northern tip.