To know More About Wines....
OLIVIER DE SERRES wrote in the 16th century, in the first treatise
of agriculture, written in french language, that the nature of the wine depended
on the geology, climate and of the type of vine. This is still true. Considering
these three factors, does it exist a corsican specifity ?
We can distinguish four types of soils planted with vines : sandy granite,
schists, clayey-chalky and alluvial earthes.
The whole west of Corsica, limited by the central furrow (Solenzara - Corte),
is granitic, we will discover schists in the north (Corsican Cape), clayey limestone
in the direction of Patrimonio and marly-sandy and alluvial earthes from Solenzara
to Bastia (but also in the bottoms of the valleys and in the plain of Figari).
The permeability of the soil, which is major on the Continent in order to avoid
the retention of water, has not the same importance in Corsica since the climate
is dry. On the contrary, it is desirable that the few humidity remains. The
poorness of the soil (granite, schist) is favorable to the vine.
With the score of 2911 hours, Ajaccio beats the record of France of hours of
sunshine, the corsican average placing itself at 2750 hours. As a comparison,
Bordeaux has 2076 hours of sun whereas Burgundy has to content itself with 1934
This situation is all the more favorable to the vine that it rains six times
less in Corsica than in Bordeaux in the important months of august and september.
To tell the truth, the mountains and valleys create a mosaic of microclimates
with cool night winds that the northern and southern extremeties of the Isle
(Corsican Cape, Figari) do not know.
We have also to take into account the very variable altitude of the vineyards
(10 to 400 meters), their distance or nearness from the sea and the regime of
the local winds. Also to remember the influence of the sea which is not always
beneficial on the phyto-sanitary plane, as well because of the humidity as because
of the salted winds (rot, burn). But beyond the littoral itself, these winds
are favorable. They purify and we owe them the rains which, because they are
rare, are very welcome.
The Types of Vines
We can divide them into four categories. The first one includes the corsican
types of vine, or regarded as such from one century or more. The second is the
one of the types of vine "of importation" whose coming and expansion
owe much to the repatriated settlers from Algeria.
These types of vine had the vocation to produce much wine. It was almost all
that was asked to them. The Carignan is the most unfortunate example of it,
with the Alicante-Bouchet, a dyer...Many of them have been up rooted, those
which remain will not resist to the restructuring plans. The third category
includes excellent types of vine, admitted in the label of wine of Corsica,
such as Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault...
As to the fourth, it is opened. The types of vine of quality non admitted in
the label are grouped there with those which are already planted in Corsica
and those which would deserve to be tried. The Chardonnay is already bottled
in Corsica, like the Cabernet-Sauvignon. An other type of vine will inevitably
join these schismatics, the Viognier, that we would believe that he has been
created for Corsica, him, which expresses his quality when the dryness, heat
and decomposed granite are combined.
The introduction of new types of vine is very contested by the traditionalists.
They maintain that the corsican wine will lose his identity, point of view which
is combated in many other regions which live through the same intrusion, beginning
with all the french mediterranean littoral and with Italy, Tuscany particularly.
Sciacarello (394 ha)
The most corsican of all the types of vine is unquestionably the Sciacarello.
The most corsican because it only exists in Corsica. He was born there or he
has been imported in distant times and would have disappeared in his country
of origin (Greece? Middle East?) Sciacarello means " crunchy to eat ",
allusion to the crunching pulp of those good black berries covered with bloom
that we can eat with pleasure for it is also an eating grape ( or dessert grape
if we prefere). Since twenty years or so cloning selections have been set about.
The CIVAM proposed the first clones six or seven years ago.
Nowadays seven registered clones of Sciacarello are available. He is never so
expressive that when he covers the decomposed granite. That is why he is indisputably
the master from the West Coast of Ajaccio to Sartene, although the type of soil
is frequent in other corsican regions. We extract from it an aristocratic wine,
finer than corpulent, more nervous than round and whose vivacity which is spiced,
peppery to be more precise, covers the palate.
Usually, the pigmentation of his color is light red. He is converted into wine
in Red or in RosÚ..
Rarely alone, he is often associated to the Grenache or with Niellucio (see
Nielluccio (1396 ha)
Is for Patrimonio what the Sciacarello is for Ajaccio. Indisputably the Niellucio
belongs to the corsican ampelographic patrimony although it is a type of vine,
native to Tuscany, the Sangiovese, whose first scientific description is given
by Vilifranchi in 1773 in a bock, oenologiza Toscana, published in Florence.
Cinelli in 1783, in his ampelography of the town of Sinalunga, names it Trignolo,
Pignolo or Prugnolo, designation still used in certain regions. We can imagine
that it is the Genoese who have introduced the Sangiovese in Corsica although
no document can support this logical hypothesis.
The Niellucio is the subject of a clonal selection in the plantings of the CIVAM,
difficult and slow selection for the original material had a strong virus desease.
Soon, three registered clones will be proposed. The Nielluccio can be converted
into Red or RosÚ. It is very often associated with a few Grenache and/or Cinsault,
some producers make it play its part as a soloist. Sometimes we associate it
with white grapes, Vermentino in the good cases or Ugni-Blanc. This practice
is not new. It is curious to notice that in the country of origin of the Nielluccio
alias, Tuscany, the vinification of the Chianti proceed in the same way, with
addition of white grapes. Similar grapes for it is about Malvasia, continental
name of the Vermentino and of the Trebbiano, real patronym of the Ugni-Blanc
(in fact only the last mentionned is part of the blending).
The Nielluccio is a noble type of vine. It ensures to the wine a color of good
depth, fine tannins and an acidity which is far from softness. Rigor, density
and lingering fragrance can define it.
Vermentino (615 ha)
He also bears the name, in Corsica of the South, of Malvasia, Malvoisie in
France. This great type of vine was very widespread in all the mediterranean
Europe. Are Greeks the authors of this spreading ? That is possible, they have
been the vectors of other types of vine and is it not said that this type of
vine is native to their country ? (or to Asia Minor). This hypothesis is all
the more founded that Malvasia is established every where Greeks have established
their settlements or counters. In the Middle Ages she is everywhere, then slowly
gives way to prolific types of vine of less quality. She almost disappears of
continental France, but fortunately remains in Corsica. This movement recently
reverses for we plant again in the Roussillon. At the present seventeen clones
have been selected, ten are registered. This material I-s in production at the
The Vermentino is a polyvalent type of vine. Picked in the outset of maturity,
it allows to convert into wine, dry and balanced wines which are much fuller,
much more " in mouth " than most of the usual white wines. If we are
slow in picking it, its rate of sugar rapidly increases, it goes from 11 to
13 (potentials) as quickly as its acidity decreases.
It can then give great liquor-like wines. The Malmsey wine of Lipari for instance.
Or wines "passeril1Ús" such as those which are elaborated at the Corsican
Extract from Encyclopeadia
of the Wines of Corsica
Return to the summary of this heading The Corsican