Corsica vineyards are scattered around the coastal edges of the island that rests in the Mediterranean Sea between France and Italy, while its wine making carries traditions from both nearby countries.
Despite a history of viniculture dating back 2,000 years, Corsican wines have been largely secreted within the island’s shores until recently – when the latest generation of wine makers have started to introduce award winning vintages to an international audience.
The most renowned Corsica vineyards are spread between nine appellations, classified as Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) regions under strict guidelines of the island’s ruling country France. Italian influences, meanwhile, can be found in the main grape varieties that dominate Corsica vineyards. Although there are many different types of grapes grown, the Italian classics Vermentino for white wines and Sangiovese for reds (known locally as Rolle and Nielluccio respectively) are predominantly used for high quality wines, while the local Sciacarello red grape that is unique to the island also plays a part.
The wines of Corsica range from elegant reds and full-bodied roses to some highly respected sweet muscats and a few Mediterranean style white wines. The diversity comes from the island’s varying soils and mesoclimates, which are in turn a result of its mountainous topography.
Traditionally, the two most important wine growing regions in Corsica are Patrimonio in the north and Ajaccio in the south west.Most Corsica vineyards are concentrated in Patrimonio, where the area’s individual clay and limestone terroir produces a range of full-bodied and fruit laden reds, roses and white wines that are distinctive from the rest of the island.
Vermentino is exclusively used for the whites, while the reds and roses are made up of 90% Sangiovese with Grenache and Sciacarello making up the remainder. This area, which was established as the island’s first AOC in 1968, welcomes the most visitors – not least because it is near the beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters of the coast. Ajaccio, meanwhile is renowned as the birthplace of former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and his early family home has been transformed into a museum in the town. Corsica vineyards here are among the highest in France, with some nestled almost 600 metres above sea level.
Designated as an AOC appellation in 1984, Ajaccio primarily produces medium-bodied reds and roses dominated by the local Sciaccarello grape, which thrives in the region’s granite soils.
To the south of the island are several sub-regions that fall under the all-encompassing Vin de Corse region. In recent years, wines from the south have been attracting international acclaim – especially those from Figari, Porto Vecchio, Sartene Calvi and Coteaux du Cap Corse. Around half of the wines in these regions are roses, as well as some reds and fewer whites, while there are also a few sweet white vin doux naturel wines under the title Muscat di Cap Corse.
While there are many Corsica vineyards worth exploring, those established by Christian Imbert, who started the Torraccia vineyards over 50 years, are considered among the finest. Imbert is regarded as father of modern Corsica wines and has been instrumental in raising standards while remaining loyal to the island’s native grapes.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive Corsica wine tours across the island, which can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique activities. All of our private tours can be tailormade to meet your exact requirements, ensuring that every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and revel in the experience.
Visit our Corsica destination page for more inspirational ideas before planning a tour of Corsica vineyards and discovering the Mediterranean’s best kept secret.