Discovering Corsican Wine
Last week was very exciting. I got a package in the mail, a half case of rosé sample bottles from the Corsican Wine Board. But it made me realize something: I've never had a wine from Corsica before, never mind a Corsican rosé. Come to think of it, I wasn't exactly sure where Corsica was located … somewhere in Europe? (Please don't judge.)
I looked it up — because any country that makes wine is a country worth finding out more about. And wouldn't you know it, the island of Corsica is situated smack dab in the sea between France, Italy and Spain, the trifecta of European wine powerhouses. So what happened to Corsica? Why aren't its wines more popular around the world?
I turned to my colleague, Jennifer Ingellis, for some answers. Jen is one of Tasting Room's wine procurers and she's always got answers when it comes to wine. She believes the obscurity of Corsican wines has to do with the fact that Corsica is an island. "It's difficult to get wine off an island, as more expenses involved," she explains. "Higher prices are an issue, and importers don't want to take a chance on a dark horse." However, Jen remarks, Corsican wine is gaining ground in major cities, and bottles of Vermentinu, the region's prolific white, are starting to appear on hipper wine lists and in cool neighborhood wine shops. Read: If you're interested in getting ahead of the next wine wave, this might be your chance.
So how do Corsican wines differ from the wines of its more popular wine-growing neighbors? Well, as it turns out, Corsica cultivates many of the same varietals, but under different names (Sangiovese is Niellucciu here). The wines of Corsica, however, are rendered completely different from its neighbors' by the soils and vegetation, as the constant Corsican wind blows wild herb pollen through the vineyards, infusing the grapes with a distinctly herby, wildflowery, garrigue-tinged flavor. Now that's the power of terroir!
As for Corsica's rosés, Jen says they are generally fantastic, and can range in style from French to Sicilian. I opened a bottle of rosé made from 100% Nielluciiu and it was, indeed, fantastic: luscious and refreshing, with juicy thyme, lavender and grapefruit on the palate. One second my glass was full, and the next all the liquid was gone. Poof.
So, is Corsican wine ultimately worth pursuing? "Any wine discovery is worth pursuing," Jen says, adding, "The discovery of a new wine is what makes the wine world exciting and fresh." Does this mean that we might be seeing some Corsican wines for sale through Tasting Room soon? It's certainly a possibility for the future, muses Jen, as she believes it's important to always be introducing our members to new tasting experiences. "I'll do my best to find us an affordable one," Jen assures me. Cheers to that. Or, as they'd say in Corsica, à salute.