Corsica: Beyond Bonaparte

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday. Today’s topic: Corsica, FR

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”

-John Donne


If no man is an island, but a ‘piece of Continent’, then Corsica is a chip of the ole’ Continental coastline of France…and Italy…and…well, it’s complicated…


Corsica: History

Corsica, though an island, has never been alone. On the contrary, many continents have colonized, captured and conquered Corsica over the centuries.

Phocaeans traders predate the Romans. Romans came, saw and encouraged its wine culture until the 5th Century. Post-Roman Empire, the Saracens, a non-drinking lot, put a stopper on wine production until the city-state of Genoa paddled over from what is now modern Italy.

The Genoese reign from the 13th -18th centuries proved both a blessing and a curse. While introducing rigorous wine harvest and production laws, Genoa also gripped greedily on its wine exports. Some ampelographers (the folks that study  and classify wine grapes) also credit Genoa with introducing the Sangiovese clone known locally as Nielluccio or Niellucciu.

But all somewhat benevolent occupations must eventually come to an end. And in 1768, Genoa ceded Corsica to France. Prudent France ensured continuation of the region’s wine production. And exports improved greatly when local-boy-made-good, France’s Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, decreed Corsican wine and tobacco exports duty-free.

However, no amount of political clout could save Corsica from the 19th century phylloxera plague. While some wine makers survived by replanting to American rootstock, others chose to leave the island. Only in the 1960’s, with an influx of Algerian colonists, did Corsica’s vineyards begin the rebound they enjoy today.


Corsica: Facts

  • Location:
    • 100 miles SE  of France
    • 7 miles north of Sardinia
    • 50 miles west of Italy
  • Climate: Mediterranean with Oceanic/Alpine influences.
  • Sunlight: ~2,885 hours
  • Rainfall: ~29 inches
  • Geology: Most mountainous island in the Mediterranean
  • 9 AOC’s
  • 2 VDP’s
  • Wine Production:
    • 30% AOC
    • 60% VDP (Vins de Pays)
    • 10% VPT (Vins de Table)
  • Soils/Grapes: (Predominant)
    • North: Schist – Vermentino
    • South: Limestone/clay – Nielluccio
    • West: Granite – Sciaccarello
    • East: Sand/Granite – Whites, reds, rosés.

Curious about the wines of Corsica? Check out a binNotes’ Corsican favorite.

Next Week: Corsica: AOC’s & VDP’s – Part 2 of 2

Copyrighted 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Have a wine region you’d like discussed? Leave a comment for binNotes below. Cheers!

One thought on “Corsica: Beyond Bonaparte

Comments? Cheers!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s