Wine regions of Calvi, Patrimonio and the Cap Corse
By Tom Fiorina
This Guide was last updated on 18 July 2013
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Nicknamed L’île de Beauté for its savage, natural beauty, Corsica sits like a jewel in the sea. Although grapevines have played a key role on this most mountainous of the Mediterranean islands since the Greeks brought them here 2,000 years ago, many people have never heard of or even tasted Corsican wine. Partly, that’s economic, as virtually all winery supplies have to be shipped from the mainland, making Corsican wine expensive. It’s also related to the famous insularity of Corsicans, as they are fiercely independent and love their own products so around 70% of the better wine never leaves the island.
Arguably, northern Corsica contains the island’s most historically important wine appellations. This micro-region guide includes part of the Corse AC with vineyards along the island’s eastern coastal plains. Traditionally an area of high-yield, low-quality wines, certain cooperatives are now improving the quality level and increasing exports. The Corse-Calvi appellation around the northwestern port town of Calvi offers excellent wine and a well-developed tourist infrastructure. The Route des Artisans, a network of scenic drives, takes you through picturesque medieval villages now repopulated by artisans.
Jutting out like a northward-pointing finger, the Cap Corse promontory offers quiet, traditional fishing villages and one of the island’s most famous wines, the Vin Doux Natural Muscat du Cap Corse. The Patrimonio region, between the Gulf of St-Florent and the city of Bastia, received Corsica’s first appellation in 1968 and is generally thought to produce the island’s finest wines.
Small in size - the island is 183km long by 83km wide - and extremely mountainous (55% of its surface is 400 meters or more in altitude), Corsica has an enormous diversity of microclimates. The maritime influence from the Mediterranean provides humidity and coolness to enhance the maturity and flavours of the grapes and the island benefits from over 300 days of sunshine per year, more than anywhere on the French mainland.
Most of the island soil is decomposed granite, but the Patrimonio region is known for its clay-limestone. Patrimonio sits in what is called the Conca d’Oro (Golden Conch) because of its rich agricultural prosperity. The 425-hectare appellation circles the foot of the Cap Corse, facing west, protected from excessive sea winds by a small, craggy mountain range. The extremely fertile Balagne region, where the Corse-Calvi AC is located, benefits from a mild microclimate created by a chain of 1000-2000m high mountains that cut it off from the rest of the island.
Two airports serve the northern part of the island: Bastia in the northeast and Calvi in the northwest. Several airports in France serve both destinations. Easyjet flies into Bastia in the summer from London Gatwick and there are London Stansted flights in the summer to Calvi. The other method of reaching northern Corsica is by ferry to Bastia, Calvi or Ile Rousse from the French Mediterranean ports or from Italy. Once in Corsica, a car is essential to visit the vineyards.
Official Corsica Tourism Information
Office de Tourisme – Pôle Touristique Balagne
Port de Plaisance, 20600 Calvi
Office Municipal de Tourisme de Bastia
Place St-Nicolas, 20200 Bastia
Office Municipal de Tourisme de St-Florent
Route du Cap Corse, 20217 St-Florent
Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Corse
Place St-Nicolas, Boulevard du Général De Gaulle, 20200 Bastia
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