I have been fortunate enough to my fair share of travel, but there are still countless spots I would still love to visit: South America (Chile and Argentina particularly), South Africa, Croatia (I spent far too little time there on my way to Turkey back in college), and of course Southeast Asia (I say “of course” since my wife of nearly twenty years is Korean-American, but she refuses to take me—insert tall white American guy jokes here).
Near the top of the list, however, are the Mediterranean islands: Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica.
All three have wonderful wine traditions, are food lovers’ paradises, and are all purported to be beautiful. One of the three, however, garners a bit more interest for me, at least. I was a French major in college (insert “jobs you can get with a major in French” joke here) and it is impossible to study French without a heavy dose of French history. France certainly has a rich history, and other than perhaps Louis XIV, there is no larger figure than Napoléon Bonaparte (of course I say “larger” metaphorically, since good old Nap was, well, short).
Early on in my studies of French and French culture, I became enamored with the diminutive emperor, for no particular reason. So much so that when I finally made it to Paris, I went to the Louvre for the sole purpose of seeing Le Sacre de Napoléon (The Coronation of Napoléon) by Jacques-Louis David (but I did stop by la Jaconde while I was there). I even bought a print of that painting, which has since always adorned the wall right above my workspace in every place I have lived since graduation.
What does that have to do with Corsica? Hopefully, I do not have to answer that, but for you non-francophiles in the crowd, Napoléon was born on Corsica, just a year after it became French (it had previously been ruled by the Republic of Genoa, but it grew tired of the content revolts).
Thus, when asked if I would like to sample a few wines from the island, I figured it was the short-form version of visiting Napoléon’s home (see what I did there?).
2014 Domaine de Terra Vecchia Cuvée Albaria Corsica: 100% Vermentinu (Vermentino). My first thought? This is a really heavy bottle, which serves no real purpose. Very pale in the glass with lemon predominate but also cut grass and a salinity that makes me think this might be perfect with oysters. On the palate my oysters assessment is spot on: bright and tart with ample fruit. But there is also a roundness, a creaminess that makes this a pleasant sipper all on its own. Not as full as other Rolles, er Vermentinos, I mean Vermentinu I have had, but that only serves to add intrigue to an alluring island that keeps calling my name. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Domaine de Terra Vecchia Ile de Beauté Rosé Cuvée Anghjulina: Retail $17. Nielluccio (Sangiovese), Syrah, Grenache. Pale salmon color, rhubarb and citrus mostly wafting out of the glass. On the palate, the rhubarb is joined by strawberry and cherry on the palate, buffering a vibrant tartness and an admirable finish. Not as fruity as many rosés on the market, but this is a wonderful pink. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2014 Domaine Terra Vecchia Clos Poggiale Corse: Retail $16. 55% Niellucciu, 45% Syrah. Dark but still translucent in the glass, with savory, meaty, and coffee notes dominant. On the palate, well-balanced with subtle, but juicy raspberry and cassis with a smattering of pepper and olive. Quaffable, excellent food wine that is a welcome introduction to the island (I mean after the whole Napoleon thing) and my first ever time drinking any Niellucciu. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Domaine de Terra Vecchia Ile de Beauté Rouge: Retail $17. 50% Niellucciu (Sangiovese), 50% Merlot. A slightly translucent ruby-red with some ripe red fruit with black tea and tobacco. Some initial fruit on the palate which leads to a rather austere mid-palate. An astringency comes in on the finish, which seems a bit out of place. Reading other notes on this wine, I am not sure this is where this wine is supposed to be, therefore I am leaving this Unrated.
2015 Clos Poggiale Blanc: Retail $12. 100% Vermentinu. Pale yellow in the glass and delicate on the nose: some tropical, mostly lemon notes with nice minerality. On the palate, this is on the reserved side of Vermentinu (even though they have been part of France for centuries, the Corsicans are a proud bunch, maintaining their native language—which is a lot closer to Italian than French)–perky and angular with subtle fruit. Bright and fresh, should be great with a variety of seafood, particularly oysters. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Clos Poggiale Rosé Corsica: Retail $12. 100% Niellucciu (Sangiovese). I have claimed countless times that I am an unabashed lover of rosé wines (notice I did not say “dry rosé” for I believe there is a place for sweeter pinks too—even though they are shunned by the trendy Somm crowd). Thus, when this rosé from Corsica showed up, I was elated, but also worried. What if I did not like it? Would it ruin the vision of Corsica I had in my head? Well, no need to worry. Pale salmon with bright cherry notes braced by citrus, the palate is tangy and joyful—refreshing yet serious, this is a solid effort, and I do love my rosé. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.