An exciting auspicious beginning to our 1st ever tour to Corsica! On our opening day we started with a Petit Train ride through the old town center of Ajaccio followed by a guided walking tour and dinner at a typical Corsican restaurant near our hotel in the town center. Ajaccio plays its Napoleon card very well; it is after all his birthplace and his house is visited daily by throngs of people.
Today, on our first full day, we started with a ride through the maquis countryside on a sinewy road with hairpin curves and bridges barely the width of our bus. But we made it on time to our first appointment at Domaine U Stiliccionu. We were greeted by winemaker Sébastian Poly who adopted biodynamic philosophy in 2012 and is one of 5 wineries in Corsica that are 100% biodynamic.
His winery is boutique in terms of size: total production of a mere 15,000 bottles and although he proudly exports to the US, the chances of finding one of his wines is pretty remote. In fact he had nothing to sell at the winery and I was lucky to get a bottle that wasn’t released and had no label! I almost had to cry to get it.
Sébastian works with 3 grapes: sciaccarello, nielluccio and vermentino. The nielluccio is supposedly related to sangiovese and the sciaccarello is a native Corsican variety that may be related to mammolo, also from Tuscany.
After a walk in the vineyards and a tank tasting of 2 fermenting wines, we sat down in front of his home for the official tasting. Serving us bread and a local sheep cheese was his 94 year old grandmother.
- Our first wine was the 2015 Vermentino, very aromatic with a medium body.
- We then started with the reds:
- Antica 2013 from 100% sciaccarello which closely resembled pinot noir in color and flavor;
- Kalliste 2013, from the Greek word for Corsica, also from sciaccarello 80% and nielluccio 20%, a delicious well-balanced wine with good fruit and acidity.
- We ended with Sotto Scala 2014 ,the wine that Sébastian has designed for aging with a 60/40 blend of the two reds. It was easy drinking now but will improve with a few years.
Lunch was at a nearby seaside restaurant Una Stonda where one could hear the waves washing on the nearby shore. We could choose from the menu and I had a very tasty locally fished St Pierre.
We then went to our 2nd winery, Domaine de Vaccelli (When planning the tour, I followed a Corsican’s advice to stick to no more than 2 visits a day because it takes so long to negotiate the narrow winding roads). This is a father/son winery and father Alain Courrèges led us on a tour of the cellar hand chiseled in solid granite.
Vaccelli is a larger operation, producing 60,000 bottles yearly. They also had the pleasant predicament of no wines to sell so things are looking well for Corsican wines.
We really wanted to try the barrel fermented Vermentino, their most expensive wine, but there was none available. So we tasted:
- the Unu, a delightful rosé from sciaccarello;
- the Juste Ciel, a rustic blend of alicante and grenache;
- and the Vacelli 2013 from 100% sciaccarello.
Corsica is beautiful and today was a great start. While you may not have been able to join us on this Corsican wine adventure, be sure to check back and follow along for more “Live from Crosica” updates. You can also download our Corsica itinerary for some great ideas if you are able to visit later on your own. Cheers.