Nielluccio is going to be your next favorite grape: trust me. It produces some of the best, and most consistent, rosés in France. The fact that they are grown in Corsica makes them a challenge to find but it is one you can surmount.
Corsica is perhaps best known for being the island home of Napoleon. It is closer to Sardinia, and its language is more similar to Italian—the language of the country to which it belonged for years—than it is to mainland France. And that is all part of the fun.
This small island is producing some of the most interesting wines from indigenous grapes that I have seen in 25 years of wine writing (please don’t date me!). Those who obsess with costly Provencal rosés should look here for a diversity of styles as well as super-affordable and reliable and delicious wines. If you’re looking to try one for yourself, Clos Poggiale is one of the better producers whose wines are imported to the US. We’d also suggest you look to the wines of Domaine Giacometti.
The Skinny on the Grapes
While Corsica does grow some grapes that most of us are familiar with—such as Syrah which gives structure to some of its reds—the local one-offs are the real treat. The impossible-to-pronounce Nielluccio is a standout, followed by the aptly named Bianco Gentile. This grape is soft and mineral white that produces some of the best wines of the island, so it is absolutely gentle.
Need we say that all of these local wines go stupendously well with the local lineup of foods? Fish and octopus: you can check that box; even pizza with local charcuterie, without a doubt; and even a touch of wild boar. They are big on hunting on this island and the comestible results are spectacular.
In the wine business we often say “What grows together goes together,” and this is without a doubt true about this island. Have you ever had wild boar prosciutto that is that thick and chewy and divine? Well Nielluccio is perfect for that and also goes well with a number of odiferous local cheeses. Bianco Genile is never a bad way to finish a meal either.
The Final Course
If you find yourself hankering for something beyond just wine this island also probably has it in store for you. Corsica also produces a number of digestives and distillates that are sure to float your boat. There is a mandarin orange one as well as one made from blackcurrants. If you are still hungry for more there’s also the local P&M whiskey, which was the first Corsican whisky produced entirely on the island itself.
What is more, many of these fruits, and their essential oils, are used to make creams and anti-aging products. Bastia, in the north of the island, is home to the brand Helios that produces everything from candles to anti-ageing creams from the local herbs and fruits.
So if you don’t have time to jet over from Paris: just order in. More and more importers are ramping up to feature these stunning wines, particularly on the East Coast, so we all should have more Nielluccio which with to toast each other.