Corsican Reds: Unusual Wines From an Uncommon Place

Corsica is singular. It’s an island off Italy that is part of France and entirely its own place and culture.

Its leading red grapes, niellucciu and sciaccarellu, are just as remarkable. While it is true that they are genetically identical to sangiovese and mammolo, a grape generally used in Tuscany for blending, they make altogether different wines when grown in Corsica.

The island’s geography is varied, with gorgeous seascapes, snow-capped mountains in the interior and a wealth of interesting soils: limestone and clay primarily in the north, granite mostly in the south, sandstone and volcanic soils in the center and plenty of exceptions all over.

This month we’ll examine red wines from three different parts of Corsica: Patrimonio in the north, Calvi in the northwest and Ajaccio in the southwest. Here are the three bottles I suggest:

Domaine Maestracci Corse Calvi Clos Reginu 2019 (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.) $22

Domaine Pinelli Vin de France 2020 (Selection Massale, Carmel Valley, Calif.) $27

Domaine Comte Abbatucci Vin de France Cuvée Faustine 2020 (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant) $45

Domaine Abbatucci is one of Corsica’s great producers. The wine is well worth trying even if it is a little more expensive than the others. Maestracci is run by Camille-Anaïs Raoust, who took over her family domaine a few years ago and has taken strides in moving it forward. Domaine Pinelli is run by Marie-Charlotte Pinelli, who only recently set out on her own. I haven’t tried her wine yet and am looking forward to it.

If you can’t find these bottles, other producers to seek out include Antoine Arena and his two sons, Jean-Baptiste Arena and Antoine-Marie Arena, whose wines are bottled under their own names. U Stiliccionu, Domaine de Vaccelli, Clos Canarelli, Domaine de Torraccia, Clos Venturi, Yves Leccia and Domaine Giacometti are more choices.

These reds would go best with hearty meat dishes like roasts, chops, sausages, burgers and maybe with roast chicken. If you don’t eat meat, I would try something like a mushroom quiche or a pasta with mushrooms.

The usual words of wisdom: Serve cooler than room temperature but not icy.

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