For our latest Wednesday wine, we’re hopping over the water from the Riviera to a jewel of the Med – the island of Corsica often referred to as L’Île de Beauté for its beautiful coastline, stunning harbours and rugged, mountainous interior. Acquired by the French who bought it from the Genoese in the 1700s, its Italian heritage is still very much in evidence particularly in its cuisine and whilst all the locals speak French, the native language, Corsu is still spoken in rural areas and also in parts of northern Sardinia across the Strait of Bonifacio.
When it comes to wine, Corsica has a long history of viticulture which can be traced back to the Phoceans as long ago as 570BC. Today, much of the wine produced is consumed on the island by the locals and the influx of tourists during the summer months. Grape varieties are distinctly Italian in origin with Vermentino, also known locally as Malvoisie on the island, dominating for the whites. Nielluccio, thought to be closely related to the Tuscan grape Sangiovese, and Sciacarello, a grape unique to the island, play an important part with the reds, although international grape varieties such as Syrah and Grenache are often blended with these varieties nowadays. The first AOC was granted to Patrimonio in 1968 and today the island’s AOC count totals nine.
So, to our wine: in the north of the island on the Cap Corse, Lina Pieretti-Venturi, one of only a handful of female winemakers on the island with 5 acres of vines, produces the delightfully pale Domaine Pieretti rosé. We’re trying the 2013 vintage which is fresh, very dry and bursting with summer berry flavours and a real minerality which I love in a rosé. It’s a blend made from another indigenous grape, Alicante, together with Nielluccio and a little Grenache, giving it sufficient backbone to pair with seafood dishes – our garlic and chilli prawn linguine worked a treat – but I would be just as happy drinking it unaccompanied.
Domaine Pieretti Rosé 2013 – Coteaux du Cap Corse
We bought ours at Yapp Brothers – £15.50
Last weekend found us drinking some delicious and elegant white wines from Bellet and the Riviera Ligure di Ponente – watch this space for a post on Vermentino / Rolle / Pigato coming soon. Midweek, however, we are looking for well-made, reasonably priced wines, so this week’s offering from Aix en Provence fits the bill perfectly.
Domaine des Oullières‘ Harmonie Blanc is a wine I’ve often picked up on the way out of Yapp Brothers, a specialist importer of French wines here in the UK, for whom I do the odd bit of work from time to time. A blend of Rolle (aka Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc, it seems to tick the right boxes with many a journalist. For me, the herb and pepper notes on the palate are key alongside a subtle tinge of orchard fruit. It’s great to find a source of typical, well-made, but not over-priced white provençal wine like this one, and the Domaine makes a good rosé with the same ‘rapport qualité-prix’. We drank the white with a chilled courgette and basil soup on a balmy evening, and it is made for such local favourites as pissaladière, tapenade toasts or seafood stew. Looks like I’ll be buying another bottle to confirm and indulge in these most provençal of pairings. Santé!
Domaine des Oullières Harmonie Blanc 2012 – Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
We bought ours at Yapp Brothers – £10.95
The Domaine also has an online shop
Monday and Tuesday evenings are usually alcohol-free in our house so by Wednesday we are ready for a glass of something new and interesting to celebrate being halfway to the weekend. If you follow my twitter feed, @pestopistou, you will have noted that yesterday (Tuesday) proved an exception to this rule, but you might also spot that this minor slip-up was made in the name of research for today’s first post in a forthcoming series of Wednesday’s Wine features. We will aim to uncover some great wines from the Riviera and beyond with a smattering of wines from further afield if we’re travelling or spot something unusual that’s worth reporting on.
So to tonight’s wine: Gavi lies some 50km to the northwest of Genoa, just over the Ligurian border in Piedmont. The white wines from this area are from the Cortese grape and those made within the commune of Gavi itself can be labelled as Gavi di Gavi. This Wednesday’s wine is from the Azienda Agricola La Toledana, a co-operative producing this intriguing single-estate bottling from late-harvested grapes which gives it an unusual weight and concentration. This extra punch sits well with the wine’s refreshing acidity, grapefruit and pear flavours and long, minerally finish. One we will most certainly be drinking again.
And to match? We cooked up an asparagus speltotto (risotto made with pearled spelt rather than rice), generously dressed with pea shoot and mint pesto. A perfect reward for making it to Wednesday.
La Toledana Single Estate Gavi di Gavi 2012
We bought ours in the UK at Majestic – £11.99
For worldwide stockists, check http://www.winesearcher.com