L’Île de Beauté – Corsica and its wines

During my wine and food tours in Paris, I often take any chance to share a plate of Corsican charcuterie, cheese or a glass of wine. Many of my clients don’t even realize that Corsica is part of France and has been since 1769. And to be honest, before moving to France, other than knowing that Napoleon Bonaparte originated from this rocky island in the Mediterranean, I hadn’t given it much thought until I tasted some of their produce. Sitting geographically, and sometimes culturally, closer to Italy and just facing the Italian island of Sardinia, Corsica proves to be a delicious destination.

Called L’Île de Beauté by the French, it is home to many wine makers, some of whom are starting to make waves on the international scene. The cheeses (mostly sheep’s milk) and charcuterie production still remains fairly artisanal and the furthest most of the products make it is Paris. What I love about the wines is the use of unknown native grape varieties and their expression of the unique terroirs. Even as an educated professional such as myself, it’s often a shot in the dark when choosing a Corsican wine, having rarely tasted the featured grape varieties. But I’m rarely disappointed when the source is a good, reliable restaurant or a knowledgable merchant.

At L’Office, a favorite restaurant in Paris’s 9th district (3 Rue Richer, 75009 Paris), I enjoyed a gorgeous and casual wine made by Yves Leccia, a top quality producer on L’Île de Beauté. His Cuvée YL rouge is made from a blend of grenache (80{3a7d09526df5c7d799d9c3345e955029832d7bc6b7b2dd8e5aa7fd6ebaba0b85}) and one of the native varieties niellucciu. On this particularly cold winter day, this fruity and complex wine weaved us through an entire meal perfectly and warmed us from the inside out. It had just enough heft and natural lip-smacking sweetness from a sun-drenched grenache to be a great winter wine. But I could also see this wine served a bit cooler (don’t be afraid to put some reds in the fridge 15-30 minutes before serving) with a barbecue or a al fresco meal of charcuterie and cheese in the summer.

Delicious Cuvée YL from Yves Leccia, Corsica

Delicious Cuvée YL from Yves Leccia, Corsica (photo from their website).

So do look out for Coriscan wines and other products (their honey can also be amazing) back home or during your next holiday in France.

Perhaps the Corsicans wished we would just leave them alone (they are known for their autonomy and the understandable desire to preserve their unique landscape, culture, language and food), but once you taste a glass of their wines, you’re hooked and go back for more.

Cheers!

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