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Corsica


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Corsica vineyard

A vineyard in Corsica, very different from mainland France! Photo by Tigerente on Wikipedia. License: Creative Commons SA 3.0 Generic.

Corsica is a Mediterranean island located to the southeast of France. Its beautiful rustic mountain scenery and provincial flavor make it a popular tourist destination. Corsica is close to Sardinia, the Italian island, and Italian winemaking has had a great influence on that of Corsica. As a result, the wines made here are very distinct from those of the rest of France. For esoteric wine drinkers, this appellation can be excellent.

Corsica is most known for its only major city, Ajaccio, where Napoleon Bonaparte was born and where many tourists visit each year. However, the island's roughly 3,400 square miles have some more rural parts as well. Around the coastal areas, there are many vineyards, and oftentimes the wines that are produced are of amazing quality for a rather un-French price.

History

Napoleon played a major part in the early history of Corsican wine, although even before him the area's unique wines had attracted some attention. Napoleon lifted trade restrictions between Corsica and other regions, helping establish its wine. During Napoleon's time, this appellation was pumping out many low-quality bottles, and was considered a hub for good cheap table wine.

More recently, government efforts have required producers to adhere to more strict quality controls. The unique wines created by the island's indigenous grapes have intrigued buyers more than those made from international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and they in fact are becoming an important niche in the world of French wine.

Climate and Viticulture

The Corsican climate is quite conducive to winemaking, with a very warm average temperature--only a few degrees lower annually than that of Hawaii! The weather is sunny, and although the climate is arid, Corsican vineyards are planted with grapes that grow well in that type of weather.

The soil in Corsica is almost entirely schist, a type of marl that is often seen in France's Rhône as well. The hilly Corsican climate makes for outstanding drainage and great concentration of the soil. Limestone, chalk, and clay are also present to a lesser degree.

Grape Varieties

Although international grapes have sometimes been planted, most of them red, the local grapes make the wines of the most character and unique feel. Regulations vary between the AOCs, since their soil and climate conditions are diverse, but typically Nielluccio and Sciacarello for red wines, and Vermentino for whites, are the most common grapes. Vermentino is actually an Italian grape, while the former two are Corsican in origin, and they tend to make the most original wines.

Major Producers

Most producers make wine that is inexpensive, and usually conveys good flavors. As said earlier, wine from local grapes is a better bet than wine from international grapes. Here are two producers considered especially reliable.

Subregions

There are several AOCs that apply to the Corsica region. Basic wines that do not use vin de table use the appellation Vin de Pays de l'Île de Beaute. Wine here is usually extremely inexpensive, and often is lower-quality juice made from an international grape. More serious buyers will want to consider one of the three higher-level AOCs that the region has: