This month I am joining the #winophiles, a group of French wine loving friends, as we discover and learn more about wines from Corsica. Our first task was to find some Corsican wines. I found one at my local wine shop in Georgia, and the other three were purchased by my husband on his trip to California. Then the discovery part, immersing myself into the wine and culture of Corsica.
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean that is located between the southeast coast of Provence and the west coast of Tuscany. Both Italy and France have influenced Corsica’s wine and food throughout it’s history.
Corsica was ruled by the Republic of Genoa from 1284-1755. It is believed that during that time a clone of the Sangiovese grape was brought to the island and became known as Nielluccio. Today, two-thirds of Corsica’s AOC wines are made up of Italian grape varieties; Niellucciu (Tuscany’s Sangiovese), Sciacarella (Tuscany’s Mammolo) and Vermentino (Liguria’s Pigato). [Source:CIV Corse, Wikipedia]
France’s influence began when it conquered Corsica in 1769, also the same year the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte was born in the Corsican city of Ajaccio to a wine producing family. In the 1960-70’s, repatriated Algerian settlers, called pied noir immigrated to Corsica and introduced classic southern French grapes including; Carignan, Cinsaut, and Grenche, increased vineyard plantings, and wine production. The quantity of wine produced increased, but the quality of the Corsican wines decreased as did export demand. In the 1980’s subsidies were issued to encourage uprooting vines and refocus on quality over quantity. French authorities stepped in and impose the French quality control system of AOC (appellation d’ origine contrôlee). Corsica has nine AOC regions; Ajaccio, Patrimonio, Corse Calvi, Corse Sartène, Corse Figari, Corse Porto-Vecchio, Corse Coteaux du Cap, Muscat du Cap Corse, and Corse. Today Corsica has reduced their vineyard plantings, modernized their winemaking techniques and equipment and reintroduced native grape varieties back to the island. [Source: Berberoglu, Wikipedia ]
Corsica Wine Map from Wikipedia
The Italian and French influence does not stop with the wine. Corsican cuisine is a blend of both Italian and French that combined, have made it uniquely Corsican. Corsican specialties include wild boar stew made with carrots, garlic, fennel, red wine and local chestnuts, meat dishes served with pasta or polenta, veal and olive stew made with tomatoes, onions, herbs from the maquis (thyme, marjoram, basil, fennel, and rosemary), and wine, seafood, handmade charcuterie, olive oil, and a cheese called Brocciu similar in texture to ricotta made from sheep or goats milk. [Source: Corsica Food and Wine]
My Wine Tasting Notes:
Non-Vintage Corse, Vermentino 12% ABV– Winemaker Dave Phinney
Light yellow in color with a slight green tint. A nice floral nose. Light and simple with good acidity. Hints of green apple and almond. Paired very nicely with the Swiss Chard Herb Tart.
2013 Domaine de Vaccelli Ajaccio, 100% Sciacarello, 13.5% ABV
Pale ruby in color. An earthy nose with flavors of herbs and red fruit. Medium to lighter in body, noted tannins with fresh acidity.
2013 Domaine de Vaccelli, Ajaccio Unu, 100% Sciacarello, 14%ABV
Pale ruby in color. Lovely soft almost vanilla like nose. Flavors of red currant and red cherry. Medium to light body, noted tannins with nicely balanced acidity. Paired nicely with the Veal and Olive Stew.
2014 A Mandria di Signadore, Clos Signadore, Patrimonio, 100% Nielluccio, 14% ABV
Medium ruby in color with a blue tint. Earthy nose with tight tannins, medium body, opening up to flavors of red cherry.
A wine and food pairing guide is to pair the wine with regional cuisine, I made a Veal and Olive Stew and a Swiss Chard and Herb Tart adapted from Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Island Feast. The wine and food I discovered from Corsica was so delicious, Corsica is on my travel destination list. Cheers!
Check out my fellow bloggers and their Corsica Discoveries ~
L’Occasion – “Making Wine on an Island”
Savor the Harvest – “The Intrigue of Corsican Wines”
Culinary Adventures with Camilla – “Corsican Fasgioli Incu Fungi + Domaine Petroni Corse Rouge”
FoodWineClick – “Aromatic Fish and a Corsican”
The Swirling Dervish – “The Mysteries of Corsica”
Rockin Red Blog – “Corsican Wine: A Metamorphosis of Island Culture”
Corsican Veal and Olive Stew
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-3/4 lb. veal shoulder cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
- 7 oz. applewood smoked bacon diced
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 3.5 oz. pastis
- 7.5 oz. dry white wine
- 1.3 lb. canned crushed tomatoes
- 3 medium fennel bulbs cut into 1 inch wedges
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup Italian green olives (I used Castelvetrano)
- salt and pepper
- For the Red Pepper Salsa
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 2 sprigs of mint leaves torn
- 2 sprigs of basil leaves torn
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- In a large Le Creuset dutch oven add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sear veal pieces on high heat in 3 batches, about 5 minutes per batch or until browned on all sides. Add more olive oil if needed. Set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium high and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the bacon, onion and garlic. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until onion is softened. Add the fennel seeds and paprika, cook for about one minute to release their flavors. Add the pastis and white wine to dislodge any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the veal back to the pot along with the tomatoes, fennel, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. Top the stew mixture with about 1-3/4 cups of water or just to cover the meat. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add the olives and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- In the mean time, make the salsa. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper and put the peppers on the pan. Roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, turning the peppers occasionally until they are soft.
- Place the roasted peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to touch. Peel and discard the skin and seeds. Chop the peppers in to 1 inch dice. Place in a bowl with the remaining salsa ingredients, add a pinch of salt.
- Serve the stew with the red pepper salsa, a French baguette or polenta and a glass of Corsican wine. Cheers