Corsica l'Ile de Beauté - Part Two

Second stop, via a tortuous route up and over the Col de Teghime in the centre of Cap Corse to the village of Patrimonio, which gives its name to the appellation, was at the winery of Antoine Arena.

Travels in wine - Corsica 2015

60-year-old Antoine and his wife Marie own four vineyards – Carco, Hauts de Carco (a new vineyard created in 2005), Grotte di Sole (Sunny Grotto, so named because the shadows cast in and around the cave acted as a sundial to the local shepherds) and Morta Maio. They are in the process of organising their own retirement, having split the vineyards between their two sons Jean-Baptiste and Antoine-Marie. 'Two separate companies will avoid intra-family disputes in the running of the business,' says Antoine. (Personally I can't see him ever fully leaving them alone nor keeping his counsel, whether the sons want him to or not! He is one of the real characters in the wine industry).

On the day we tasted 27 Arena wines. Antoine led us a merry dance from vat to vat, making sense out of what appeared to be a rather chaotic layout in the cellar, and even he seemed to lose his way on occasion! Dodgy cellar navigation apart, it was a fascinating odyssey that took us through some very good wines indeed. Tasting the 2014s in vat and barrel, and comparing to 2011 and 2012 in bottle enabled us to ascertain how the new wines should develop.

Antoine was instrumental in the resurrection of bianco gentile as a variety, and the wines we tasted were delightfully fresh and lifted in a citrus style (including the one mentioned above soon to be listed). While made to be drunk young, they age well too, as we discovered when tasting a 2007 which had taken on weight and richness with a quince character.

We could have stayed all day talking and tasting, and indeed Antoine was most disappointed that we couldn't stay for lunch, as it had already been organised at our next appointment. Given his generosity and loquaciousness I dread to think how we would have ended up at the lunch table. As it was we left 45 minutes later than planned because of his insistence that we tasted some of the wines derrière les fagots (behind the woodpile), that is to say those wines he will never sell but which he keeps for personal consumption. These included:

  • A 2003 late-harvest vermentino picked with a potential alcohol of 23%, then left in a barrel outdoors for a year before being brought in to the cellar – rich, sweet and absolutely delicious – Madeira-like, even though unfortified.
  • An old-vine version of the above from 83-year-old vines (which have since been grubbed up) blended with younger grapes from the Carco vineyard, vinified in a large barrel then placed in small barrels right at the back of the cellar. There is only one barrel left of this luscious, deep brown, sweet oloroso-like wine which has lovely lifted acidity. Antoine only dips into it very occasionally when serving it to 'honoured guests'.
  • A muscat, again from 2003, picked in November at 35% potential alcohol. Although unfortified, it is very similar in taste to a Rutherglen muscat from Victoria in Australia (a wine that Antoine, interestingly, had never heard of!).

After this visit, which left us rushing off and Antoine wishing we didn't have to, we moved on to the halfway point of the tour, arriving in the picturesque port of Saint-Florent on the west side of the Cap Corse. Waiting in his wine shop to greet us was Eric Poli of Clos Alivu and his wife Marie-Brigitte. We have been listing his Patrimonio wines for a while now, and currently list the Patrimonio Blanc, Clos Alivu 2013. We tasted the 2014 versions of the white from tank (vermentino – very easy-going and attractive, rich in style with a fresh mineral edge and a very long finish of crisp green apple and pear and rosé) and the rosé (90% nielluccio, c. 5% sciaccarello, c.5% vermentino – well integrated, light in character, displaying lively red fruit and already very moreish).

The red was the 2013 vintage made from 100% nielluccio. It was still tight and tannic, but with a lovely savoury edge to the lightly sour raspberry and plum flavours. Nielluccio needs a year or two to start showing its true colours. While not generally built for great longevity, Eric told us of a 1985 he recently drank at home which was still on excellent form.

We also tried some of his single variety IGP Île de Beauté wines. I particularly enjoyed the crunchy and savoury red fruit of the sciaccarello, as well as the peach- and pear-laced bianco gentile which he classifies as a simple Vin de France. He says that 'with not so many rules and regulations around for this, I can play with it more in the vineyard and the winery.'

A brief stroll to the marina and it was time for a rather hefty and long but quite delicious lunch of typical Corsican fare (majoring on charcuterie, ewe's cheese and chestnuts), with a vermentino and nielluccio from the Ajaccio appellation (which were ok, but not a patch on the wines we were tasting during the day). We had a spectacular drive south through the mountains and the maquis and along the dramatic north-western coastline which included an interesting traffic jam before once more heading for the hills.

Rush hour in northern Corsica…

Where to go next?

Corsica, Île de Beauté – Part Three >

Return to Trip Overview >

More from this trip

Trip homepage >

Other recent buyer trips

Discovering Washington

Washington, USA 2016

Discovering Washington

Buyer Freddy Bulmer visits one of the USA’s most up-and-coming wine regions to discover its potential and meet the producers shaping the future of the region.

View full trip
Adventures in Oz

Australia 2016

Adventures in Oz

Buyer Sarah Knowles MW embarked on a whirlwind tour of Australia, discovering the jewels of the 2016 vintage and scoping out exciting additions to the Exhibition range, overcoming floods, blackouts and hunting down wild orchids along the way.

View full trip
Giro d’Italia: Part II

Italy 2016

Giro d’Italia: Part II

The final leg of this mammoth tour taking in five regions in just five days sees buyer Sebastian Payne MW and News editor Joanna Goodman in land-locked Umbria with Montefalco producer Scacciadiavoli and the Barberanis in Orvieto. Finishing up in Tuscany, they spend time with our Society Chianti Rufina supplier where Gualberto talks on video about the true nature of Rufina wines.

View full trip
On tour in Tuscany

Tuscany 2016

On tour in Tuscany 2016

News editor Joanna Goodman and buyer Sebastian Payne MW get under the skin of the sensitive sangiovese grape in its spiritual homeland of Tuscany

View full trip
Browse all >

Members' Comments (0)

There are no comments for this article.

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.

Close

4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies:

4.4.4.1. Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended.

4.4.4.2. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit.

4.4.4.3. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic.

4.4.4.4. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.