Corsica lies southeast of France, nearest to Provence. The climate on the eastern side of Corsica has been likened to the Napa Valley. It’s warm sunny days give way to cool nights, which can help to slow down the ripening process by cooling the grapes. This slowing down of the ripening process can lengthen the maturation period of the grapes, therefore the freshness and aroma of the fruit is enhanced. The region has little risk of frost and the ridge of mountains running down the center of the Island prevents too much exposure to the sun.
Corsica has had a chequered wine history dating all the way back to 565BC. This was when the Greeks arrived in the region with the vines. The wine making process went through many hands including the Romans, the Genoese, the Saracens, the French and the Italians. Each made their own mark and left their cultural stamp. This included a smattering of grape varieties, some of which may still be planted there today. Many indigenous varieties of grape are grown, principally Grenache, Barbarossa, Sciacarello, Niellucciu, Cinsault, Codivarta, Vermentino and Carignan. Other classics such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can also be found here.
The Island wine history changed when France lost Algeria. This resulted in an influx of French winemakers from Algeria. They planted much of Corsicas then Malaria infested eastern plains and other unsuitable land with poor quality grape varieties. Land under vine went from 8,000 to 31,000 hectares between 1960 and 1973. In 1974, tighter restrictions were enforced due to a flood of poor wines as well as a fraud scandal. An overhaul of the rules meant that nearly 4000 hectares of vine had to be uprooted.
This means that the wines produced today are of a much higher standard, especially Rosé wines. The vines now thrive along with olives and chestnuts.
Although the appellation wines are much more established in this region, since the 1990’s there have been two main Streams of wine emerging from the Midi; the more traditional AOC wines and the Vin de pays. By the late 1990’s the latter were receiving all the attention. The area was nicknamed the ‘New World of France’ as modern, clean, fruitful wines made from international grape varieties were being produced and sold with great success. The quality was phenomenal for wines of fabulous value. Set in a Mediterranean climate, soil variety ensured a great many different vines could successfully grow. Both indigenous and foreign variety grapes grow in the area such as Cabernet, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault for the red wines, and Muscat, Grenache Blanc, Terret and Clairette for the whites.
This quality-price ratio was realised by the introduction of modern technology and the influx of mainly Australian winemakers. These newcomers taught the French that their wines from the hot south could actually taste of fruit. The French also learnt the vital importance of cleanliness of the cellar, picking at optimum ripeness and low yields, aiming for quality rather than quantity. wine tours from portland oregon