The classification of wines in France is represented by three main categories: Appellation d'Origine Protégée/Protected Designation of Origin (AOP/PDO), Indication Géographique Protégée/Protected Geographical Indication (IGP/PGI) and Vins Sans Indication Geographique/Wines Without Geographical Indication (VSIG/WWGI). AOP, established in 1935, is a sign to identify quality and origin. The Corsican vineyard has 9: 1 Regional appellation: Vins de Corse, 2 Cru appellations: Patrimonio and Ajaccio, 5 Village appellations: Corse Porto-Vecchio, Corse Figari, Corse Sartène, Corse Calvi and Corse Côteaux du Cap Corse, and 1 Vin Doux Naturel (sweet) appellation: Muscat du Cap Corse.
The IGP denomination is a sign of quality under the European label which covers all areas of the island. These wines are produced either as a single grape variety, or as a bi-varietal, or even as a blend. It should be noted that some producers choose this denomination to produce more "personal cuvées" with native grape varieties that do not yet appear in the specifications of the AOPs, and these are often so-called "top of the range cuvées". VSIGs represent all wines not classified as AOP or IGP. But beware, as a wine classified VSIG is no less qualitative than a wine in AOP or IGP. This approach is often a bias on the part of the winemaker who doesn't wish to be limited to the constraints of this or that specification.
Suspended on vertiginous plateaux, spread over a long, narrow peninsula, very close to the sea and near the villages... such is the setting of AOP Corse Coteaux du Cap Corse. The majority of the land is made up of shale soils. With its typically Mediterranean climate, the mild winters and hot summers give the wines finesse and elegance.
In terms of the wine: the structure of the long-keeping reds is reinforced by cultivation on terraces and the very significant exposure of the vines to the sun. As for the whites, still very highly thought of, they combine aromatic finesse and floral notes, rounded off by a wonderful minerality.
Patrimonio is the first Corsican appellation to have been nationally recognised. It's also one of two appellations which have been the subject of the specific AOP decree "Cru de Corse". Located at the foot of the Cap, this vineyard near the sea enjoys its own microclimate. The geological quality of the soil offers a remarkable range of wines. The reds are sumptuous, powerful and persistent in the mouth. The dry whites are subtle and elegant. Finally, the rosés are fresh although a little more full-bodied, but still bear the crunch of the fruit. Most AOP Patrimonio winegrowers practise organic farming, and the vineyards are in the process of becoming entirely organic.
In terms of the wine: made from the Niellucciu grape variety, the reds are marked by intense aromas and the rosés by fruity notes. The whites, dominated by Vermentinu, have a floral distinction.
Cultivated in Cap Corse and in the Nebbiu region, Muscat Petits Grains wines are suspended on vertiginous terraces. Arduous, physical work which brings a complexity and rare delicacy to Muscat du Cap Corse.
In terms of the wine: naturally sweet and delicate, they are very aromatic and have a colour that can vary from light yellow to amber. Marked by notes of candied fruit, citrus zest and even beeswax for some, their dominant characteristics are complexity and elegance.
AOP Corse, the only "Regional" type appellation, extends over the entire eastern seaboard, between Bastia and Solenzara. The vineyards are planted on the plain (the only one on the island), backing onto the rocky ridges which climb to more than 1000 metres. Coming from this mineral world, the wines of this appellation are made in the great Corsican tradition, a mix of character and generosity.
In terms of the wine: the reds strike the perfect balance between power and finesse. The rosés are delicately fruity with smoky, peppery notes. Finally, the whites are lively and floral.
It consists of an arid land, plunging towards the sea. A world dominated by blue, between sky and sea where the vineyards, beaten by the wind, bore strong, proud vines like those winegrowers of Corsica who knew how to work this lush but harsh world. Porto-Vecchio faces the rising sun between a rocky coast and surroundings wooded by the largest cork oak forests on the island.
In terms of the wine: the Niellucciu and Sciaccarellu grape varieties combine with the traditional Grenache to produce round, elegant reds and fine, aromatic rosés. The whites, from Vermentinu, are dry and fruity to perfection.
AOP Corse Figari is an old vineyard, probably the oldest in Corsica, where the first vines appeared in the 5th century BC. This land, the most southern and sunny in France with Bonifacio, is defined by a harsh and very windy climate, making viticulture complex. But these lands are in good hands and can count on the strength and determination of these young winegrowers, who are becoming more and more numerous, who fly the flag high for these vineyards. With typical Corsican grape varieties, the wines follow the image of their terroir: of great finesse and well-structured. Their continuation is assured!
In terms of the wine: the style of the wines differs according to the grape varieties used and their blend. Yet we find white wines, very floral on an exotic note, lively, colourful rosé wines as well as well-structured red wines with a deep colour.
Here, the vines seem to have been born at the same time as the hillsides: Sciaccarellu, Niellucciu, Barbarossa, Vermentinu... they're all there, the authentic Corsican grape varieties, to produce remarkably rich red wines. The whites, with their green reflections, really set off the fish of the Mediterranean. The appellation covers two distinct areas, the Tizzano region and the Ortolo valley. Cradled by a typically Mediterranean climate, its key words are brightness and mild temperatures. In the heart of a mountainous landscape, the soils are mainly granite.
In terms of the wine: there are light white wines, rosés with little colour, but still very fruity, and supple, tasty, spicy red wines.
Like Patrimonio, AOP Ajaccio enjoys the "Cru" type appellation, making it one of the most recognised appellations in Corsica. Bathed in light and beauty, the vineyards of Ajaccio are the result of an ancient winemaking tradition. Here was born Sciaccarellu, a typical Corsican grape variety. King of the appellation, the specifications for AOP Ajaccio require a minimum proportion of 60% of this grape variety, which gives the reds and rosés their assertive character.
In terms of the wine: made from the Sciaccarellu grape variety, the reds are marked by intense aromas and the rosés by fruity notes. The whites, dominated by Vermentinu, have a floral distinction...
Located in Balagne, between Calvi and île Rousse, AOP Corse Calvi is one of the oldest terroirs. This AOP is one of the five "Village" type appellations alongside Sartène, Figari, Porto-Vecchio and Côteaux du Cap Corse. Building on its heritage, the Calvi vineyard saw the birth of the Balagne wine known to the Romans, as well as the wines of Algajola and Reginu raised by the Benedictine monks. Today, 100% of the appellation's estates are certified organic or have started a conversion to Organic Farming.
In terms of the wine: rosés renowned for their clarity are drunk young. The highly aromatic whites reveal citrus notes. The fairly full-bodied reds are distinguished by their assertive character.