Wine regions of Ajaccio, Sartène, Figari and Porto-Vecchio
By Tom Fiorina
This Guide was last updated on 18 July 2013
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Wine has been an important part of the Corsican culture and economy since the Greeks planted vines here over 2,000 years ago. Following the repatriation of thousands of French nationals from Algeria in the 1960s, the island’s wine industry lost its way. Many of these repatriates settled on the flat, eastern side of the island where they grew the same high-yield, low-quality grapes that they had grown in Algeria.
It’s only been in the last 20 years, with the rediscovery of native grape varieties like Sciaccarellu, Niellucciu and Biancu Gentile, and the use of organic and biodynamic viticulture, that Corsican winemakers have begun to make some of the most interesting wines in the Mediterranean region.
There’s still plenty of dull wine, made to quench the thirst of the nearly two million tourists who are drawn to Corsica by the mild climate and some of Europe’s most diverse landscapes, but this micro-region guide will help you to identify some of the best wine producers on the island. It includes the appellations around Corsica’s capital city of Ajaccio on the west coast and Porto-Vecchio on the east coast. Located between these two cities is the Alta Rocca, the mountainous backbone of the southern part of the island that contains isolated mountain villages and spectacular scenery. Apart from the island’s idyllic beaches, other must-see attractions in southern Corsica include Filitosa, one of the most important prehistoric sites in the Mediterranean and the magnificent panorama of Bonifacio, a Geneose-built citadel, perched on white limestone cliffs that rise out of the rough seas below.
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.
The majority of the island soil is decomposed granite, but some of the southernmost appellations covered in this guide, specifically Figari, Sartène and Porto-Vecchio, have porous, iron-rich, reddish soil, and, close to the cliffs of Bonifacio, there are important limestone-clay deposits.
Two airports serve the southern part of the island: Ajaccio in the west and Figari in the south, both served by several airports in France. EasyJet also flies into Ajaccio in summer from the UK and Switzerland. The other method of reaching southern Corsica is by ferry to Ajaccio, Porto-Vecchio or Propriano from the French Mediterranean ports or from Italy. Once in Corsica, a car is essential to visit the vineyards.
Agence du Tourisme de la Corse
17 Boulevard du Roi Jérôme, 20181 Ajaccio
Office Municipal de Tourisme d'Ajaccio,
3 Boulevard du Roi Jérôme, 20181 Ajaccio
Office de Tourisme de Porto Vecchio
Rue du Député Camille De Rocca Serra, 20137 Porto-Vecchio
Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Corse
Place St-Nicolas, Boulevard du Général de Gaulle, 20200 Bastia
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