Is Corsica French?

by Kermit Lynch

We Americans were the property of the English before our Revolutionary War, and we properly make a big deal of all that. But what if you were Corsican? You would have been invaded, conquered, and/or occupied by the Carthaginians, Greeks, Etruscans, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Saracens, Genoese, and the list goes on so long, you may have stopped reading by now. Corsican independence finally began in 1755 and lasted fourteen years. Their constitution inspired our founding fathers, by the way. Then in 1764 the French purchased Corsica from the Genoese, battled and defeated the Corsican nation—so, yes, today Corsica belongs to France.

But listen, please, especially you sommeliers in Italian restaurants: let us resist calling Corsican wine French wine. For one thing, it is closer to Tuscany than it is to the Côte d’Azur. Plus, one of the two major Corsican red grape varieties has proven to be a descendent of the Sangiovese. The whites are mainly from Vermentino.

And here are the names of our producers: Arena, Leccia, Gioielli, Maestracci, Abbatucci, Marquiliani, Canarelli—how French is that? The first Corsican wine I imported was not from a Louis. His name was Monsieur Luigi.

I’m writing because I have never seen a Corsican wine on the wine list of an Italian restaurant—which just ain’t right. What is it all about? An unofficial boycott?

Corsican wines go with Italian cuisine—that’s the important thing. Corsican reds will stand up to any Sangiovese-based reds, unless you like new oak. No, the Corsicans don’t much take to the new oak fad. And as for the whites, Corsica is the home of the world’s grandest Vermentinos. In fact, I’d call Patrimonio the Meursault-Perrières of Vermentinos. I love drinking Liguria’s Vermentinos, and Sardinia’s for example, but they are quaffers next to the great whites from Patrimonio.

Corsican wines successfully accompany the many cuisines of the Mediterranean rim. A decision to deny them a place in Italian restaurants is a political, not a gastronomic decision.

Corsican wines in stock:

  • Patrimonio Blanc Grotte di Sole Blanc
  • Abbatucci Ajaccio Blanc
  • Abbatucci Ajaccio Rose
  • Patrimonio Blanc Haut de Carco
  • Patrimonio Rouge Grotte di Sole
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