May 10, 2020
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Corsica, a remote island in the Mediterranean, is the one French wine region that perhaps owes as much to the Italian winemaking tradition as the French winemaking tradition. Part of that has to do with the island’s location – it is 90 kilometers west of Italy but 170 kilometers southeast of France. It was only in 1769 that the island finally came under French control.
There are three grape varietals that are most popular in Corsica – Nielluccio (which is similar to Sangiovese and is sometimes called “the spice wine of France”), Sciacarello and Vermentino. Overall, there are more than 40 grapes that are grown on the island, with many of them reflecting Italian influences. Of these grape varietals, the most popular is Nielluccio.
There are 9 different appellations (AOCs) for Corsica, including one that covers the entire island. The first one, Patrimonio, was established in 1968. Other important appellations include Muscat du Cap Corse, Ajaccio, Calvi, Sartene and Figari. The most popular wines from Corsica are simply known as “country wines from the Isle of beauty.”
In terms of geography and climate, Corsica is a mountainous island that is warmer and drier than mainland France. The average elevation of the island’s vineyards is 300 meters above sea level. On Corsica, the use of irrigation is prohibited for vineyards.
Ever since the 1950s, when Algeria gained its independence from France, the island has seen an influx of immigrants from Algeria who have planted vineyards. Currently, the vineyard density on Corsica is approximately 1,000 vines per acre.
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