Corsica, Île de Beauté – Part Three

Domaine Alzipratu

The sun was setting as we arrived 90 minutes late (see part two) for our penultimate stop of the day to visit Pierre Acquaviva at Domaine Alzipratu in the Corse-Calvi appellation. Pierre's state-of-the-art winery contains wines not only in stainless steel vat and barrel, but also in amphorae and concrete eggs as he experiments with different styles of wine. Those of you into Corsican wines will already be acquainted with Pierre's classically made Pumonte and cuvée Fiumeseccu wines.

Domaine Alzipratu

We first tried tank samples of Fiumeseccu Blanc 2014 (long, with lemon & grapefruit to the fore, and an attractive citrus pithiness) and Pumonte Blanc 2014 (tighter, with tropical fruit and a delicate herbal layer). The rosé versions, each a blend of sciaccarello with some grenache, were long, fresh and fruity. The Fiumeseccu Rouge 2014 had been taken from the individual vats and hand blended to give an idea of what it may taste like (easy to drink, smooth and velvety with plum and liquorice character), while the Pumonte 2013 has already spent a year in oak vats. It was still hard to work out at this early stage, with its tight tannic structure, but there is plenty of freshly scented light red fruit to come to the fore in time.

Vincent and Pierre taking wine from an amphora

We then moved on to some of the more experimental wines. Alticielo 2013 is a micro cuvée of a field blend of 60-year-old vines. They are not yet quite sure what all the grape varieties are, but having been fermented and aged in concrete eggs (no corners, so the natural flow of the wine inside the vessel is smooth and continuous), the resulting wine is round with rich, savoury and fresh red fruit flavours and a silky texture. Inizeu 2013 is 100% nielluccio from a single 3,000 m2 plot of vines, also in concrete egg. It's very smooth indeed with raspberry flavours and a firm yet soft tannic structure. It tastes like it has been in wood and yet it hasn't seen any at all. At 15.6% abv, it's not for the faint-hearted, but it is a lot of fun in a glass.

Lume 2013 is a vermentino blended from vat-aged and oak-aged wine. The result is a coconut-laden nose leading to a tight vanilla coated palate of grapefruit zest. Wonderfully different and refreshing. We tried Lume 2014 (yet to be blended) from vat, amphora and barrel. While the amphora version on its own was very rich and almost oily in texture, and wasn't a good drink on its own, as an element of the blend it will add body, texture and much interest to the resulting wine.

Eggs, vats and barrels

A brief, but very informative and exciting tasting from a very dynamic grower who is going places. Pierre, with his young new winemaker Vincent, is definitely one to watch.

Our final appointment was also in the Calvi appellation with Etienne Suzzoni at Clos Culombu. London members may have met Etienne at one of our Wine Fair tastings back in 2009.The main purpose of this visit was to blend The Society's Corsican Rosé 2014, but there were also plenty of other wines to taste. We warmed up for the rosé blending with five whites – all vermentino, one of which was barrel-fermented. They all showed exquisite balance, as did the three rosés we tasted. (At the time of writing, we currently the excellent Corse Calvi Clos Culombu Rosé 2014.)

Clos Culombu's Etienne Suzzoni

It was then time to blend. Etienne and his winemakers had selected four vats, each full of wine from a different vineyard which they believed held the elements key to making a blend that would suit members' palates. Etienne told us the quantities available from each vat, which would clearly have an impact on quite how much of each wine we could put into the blend (although as it happened, we didn't have to go beyond what Etienne had made available in order to make the amount we need).

We proceeded to taste the wine from each vat in turn, noting its character and how it may assist in the final blend: vat 3 (fatness and a broad fruit-filled finish); vat 13 (perfumed nose, structure, up-front fruit hit and great length); vat 27 (freshness and minerality); vat 46 (red fruit flavour and richness).

The first blend was 40% vat 3, and 30% each of vats 13 and 27. [see pic] We then tried dropping vat 13 for vat 46, but the blend lost its perfume and structure and went over the top in flavour and richness. We then split 13 and 46 with 15% each, but the wine lacked a little freshness. So an extra dollop (5%) of vat 27 was added, and 5% taken away from vat 46 – hey presto! The wine was blended at only the fourth pass (is that a record?), to unanimous approval of the six there present.

(I for one can't wait to get my taste buds round the finished article. Just before leaving for Corsica, and purely for research purposes, you understand, my wife and I drank a bottle of the 2013 between us over two nights at home. The wine was fresh and still firm, and went extremely well as an aperitif, and then with our mildly spiced fruit and couscous stuffed baked chicken. Bring on 2014!)

After having agreed on the blend, we discussed closures. As last time, Marcel requested Diam, which was fine by Etienne. We did say that in an ideal world we would prefer screwcap. Etienne countered that as 80% of his production stays on the island, and the Corsicans demand traditional closures, he wouldn't be investing in the necessary machinery but that his son, who is soon to join the business, would doubtless have different ideas – proof of Eric Poli's earlier prediction of the changes coming with the younger generation.

Etienne's brother Paul piped up with his reason for cork being his closure of choice. Three years ago a conference and dinner had been held at the winery. The guest of honour was the then French employment minister Xavier Bertrand, He was making a pre-dinner speech that was going on and on and on… the listeners were beginning to nod off, the food was ready and near to spoiling. Paul opened a bottle with a corkscrew, very loudly. The minister turned, said 'Ah, it must be time for me to sit down' and promptly did. 'With a screwcap bottle we'd have still been here!' says Paul.

We finished our tasting with a vertical of Etienne's top red wines, named Ribbe Rosso, which means 'red clay' in the local dialect, although the clay is more ochre in colour].

2014: sciaccarello element of the blend – a flinty aroma but a firm red fruit structure balanced with the alcohol and a dusting of white pepper flavours.

2014: nielluccio element – sweet and ripe and beautiful, a very pretty baby.

2013: from barrel, great freshness, bright red fruits

2012: polished oak, bright red fruits, long finish and a solid complex structure. One for the long term.

2011: Chewy with forward red fruits. Delicious.

2010: Fresh, tasted younger than the 2011.

2009: Richer and rounder, made in concrete tank. Warming dark fruits, a little spice and liquorice.

2008: Looked a little past it, smelled sweet but tasted dry.

2006: More Rhône-like than Italianate. It's drying out a little now, and comes from the old cellar where conditions were warmer, and so the wines aged a little more quickly.

2005: there were widespread fires in the maquis that year – the smoke taint in the wine is very pronounced, increasingly so as the fruit dries out leaving other flavour elements to the fore.

2004: The first vintage. We didn't taste it. None left!

Vincent and Pierre taking wine from an amphora

It was late – we'd been either on the road or tasting (104 wines) for 12 hours, and it was time to go to dinner with Pierre from Alzipratu and Etienne and his team in the port of Calvi. It was 6 hours after that Corsica feast of a lunch with Eric, and we still weren't very hungry, but we talked some more and learned a lot more about Corsica and the wines from this jewel of an island.

I would thoroughly recommend that you visit the Île de Beauté, a name that it fully lives up to. Both Clos Columbu and Domaine Alzipratu are particularly well set up to welcome people to their estates with their brand new wineries and tasting facilities, so what are you waiting for?

Ewan Murray
PR Manager



Where to go next?

Return to Trip Overview >

Trips to other countries >

More from this trip

Trip homepage >

Other recent buyer trips

Travels In Wine - Piedmont 2015

Piedmont 2015

Perfect Piedmont

Protected by the Alps to the north and west and the Appennines to the south, Italy's north west is one of the wine world's most exciting regions. Paul and Janet try to get to grips with the Langhe, map Barolo, understand Barbaresco and round-up the latest Barolo vintages

View full trip
In pursuit of Piedmont’s finest

Piedmont 2017

In pursuit of Piedmont’s finest

In preparation for our first ever en primeur offer of 2013 Barolos, buyer Sebastian Payne MW heads to Piedmont in January 2017 to pick the best of the crop. His travelling companions, colleagues David Marsh and Louisa Peskett, both new to the region, share their experiences.

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
France

France 2015

South by South-West

Marcel Orford-Williams embarks on a whistle-stop tour starting in Saumur, on to the South West, the Languedoc then hopping over to Corsica.

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.