Corsican wines, the possibilities of an island

LOn September 25 and 26, 2021, Corsican wines honored us with a beautiful visit. They settled right there, at the foot of the newsroom, under the arch of the new Le Monde Group building. It was at the time of the Festival, a weekend of debates, meetings, intellectual food for curious minds. And for the greedy bellies, there was food in short, and 79 Corsican wines gathered in an ephemeral restaurant on the forecourt. A battalion of great beauty, which revealed the too secret assets of Corsican viticulture.

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Because you can’t help but decipher, explain, tell (and taste) everything, I had the joy of leading tasting workshops within the newspaper. Lucky that I am, I was also lucky enough to be able to do it with the Rolls Royce of Corsican wine merchants, a guy who, in addition to being a teacher, funny and adorable, knows every stone in every wine estate on his island. Nicolas Stromboni created Le Chemin des Vignobles (which even delivers on the continent), wrote Bread, wine, sea urchins (Marabout, 2016), and I allow myself to make him, without any shame, a little publicity in these lines to thank him for having enlightened me so much on the vineyards of the Isle of Beauty.

Mountain vineyards

My turn, therefore, to try to make you want Corsican wine. First on the continent, we drink too little, only 45% of production, which itself represents only a small percentage of national production. The rest is drunk on the island or goes abroad. And what we drink is mainly rosé, this color concerning 70% of Corsican wines. Yes but here it is, they are not necessarily the most interesting. They do not allow us to perceive the many particularities of the vineyard.

Only 22% of the vines are certified organic but many, without being certified, do not know the chemicals

The vine has been growing in Corsica since the 6th centurye before Jesus Christ, when the Greeks of Phocée founded Aléria (or Alalia). Today, it is found all around the island. Seaside vineyard? Rather in the mountains, since the differences in height are omnipresent. The cool wind blowing from the summits towards the Mediterranean refreshes the grapes (and makes them beautiful, “Like when you soak peas in cold water just after boiling them », Would specify Nicolas Stromboni), and contain diseases. For that alone, I am convinced that this is a vineyard of the future. Only 22% of the vines are certified organic (this is still more than the French average, at 12%) but many, without being certified, are unfamiliar with chemicals (“ What’s the point of giving medicine to someone who never gets sick? “, the winemaker justified to me with as much pride as chauvinism, he is not Corsican for nothing).

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