France: Corsica

Southern Corsica

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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Domaine Saparale

Address: Route D50, 20100 Sartène
Tel: 04 95 77 15 52  Fax: 04 95 73 43 08
Geo-coordinates:  Latitude: 41:35:1N (41.58521)    Longitude: 8:59:8E (8.99708) 

Corsican nobleman Philippe de Rocca Serra returned from Egypt in the late 19th century with an enormous fortune. Rather than buying a Bordeaux château, he cleared 100 hectares between the city of Sartène and Bonifacio, and planted grapevines and fruit trees. A little village, complete with shops and a Gendarmerie Nationale station for French military police was built, and around 100 workers worked on the estate until the one-two punch of phylloxera and bandits ended the experiment. By World War II, the village was deserted. Philippe Farinelli, who inherited the estate from his grandmother, took over in 1994. Farinelli, who has an oenology degree from Montpellier University, has installed new stainless steel vats and oak ageing barrels in a huge stable where the farm’s workhorses were once kept. He makes a red, white and rosé cuvée de garde (wines meant to be aged), named Cuvée Casteddu; and a red, white and rosé range of less complex wines under the Cuvée Domaine Saparale name. Both reds are made from a blend of Sciaccarellu and Niellucciu grapes. The Domaine Saparale whites, which are made from the Vermentinu grape, and the two rosés, one from a blend of Sciaccarellu and Vermentinu, the other also including Niellucciu, are full-bodied, tasty wines. Farinelli has renovated an old stone olive mill into a luxurious gîte, for up to seven people set right in the middle of the vineyards complete with a swimming pool and a traditional-style, hammam steam bath. The rental fee is steep, however: depending on the season, it ranges from €4,500 to €7,200 per week including breakfast and a selection of wines – shorter breaks are available out of the peak summer season. The view of the nearby mountains is priceless.

Useful information: Visits by appointment only.


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