2021 Sant Armettu Rosumarinu Red, Corse Sartene
The first thing you’ll notice about Corsican wine is that the nomenclature is unlike anything you’ve ever encountered. The winery names, grape names and place names will be foreign to you, unless, of course, you’ve already visited this incredibly beautiful island. Then you’d already know that the Corsican culture is a unique blend of French and Italian and that the language is a real mishmash. Is it French, with an Italian accent or Italian, with a French accent? Or is it the old Corsican dialect, still spoken in the interior hinterland, the Maquis? Well, I am about to visit l’ile de la beauté in a few days so I’ll let you know when I get back. In the meantime, I want you to enjoy a Corsican wine that I discovered in the research I did prior to departure. The 2021 Sant Armettu ‘rosumarinu’ (meaning ‘rosemary’) Vin Corse Sartène is made from the grape variety, Sciaccarellu (note that just about every other word in Corsica ends in either an ‘o’ or ‘u’) grown in the southwestern hills running down to the coast from the picturesque, medieval town of Sartène. As near as I can tell from my quick study is that Sciaccarellu is related to or possibly descended from the Tuscan grape variety, Mammolo, one of the minor grape types in the old Chianti recipe. Otherwise, trying to decipher the history and origins of all the Corsican grapes, red and white, is utterly baffling. Let’s just leave it that the grape varieties are either native to the island or, of French descent or, of Italian descent, which could mean Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily or Sardinia. (Don’t forget that even the Greeks enjoyed a brief stay in Corsica.) That clears thing up nicely, doesn’t it?
Okay, back to the Sant Armettu. This gorgeous estate is perched in the hills overlooking the sea where they organically farm about 40 hectares of vines, focusing on the native grape varieties that thrive in the Mediterranean climate. Subject to cold winds from the north (Mistral) and warm, dry winds from the south (Scirocco), the vines struggle in the granite/clay soils to produce highly structured, aromatic wines that are evocative of the regional terroir. Proprietor Gilles Seroin, built a modern winery and cellar in 1996, taking over from his father Paul, who planted the first vines in 1964. Today, Gilles is assisted by his adult children, Guillaume and Jeanne, who represent the fifth generation of family ownership. Gilles follows a Burgundian model in his approach to winemaking; meaning fermentation in small lots after a brief cold soak, gentle maceration and careful aging to preserve the freshness of the wines. The 2021 ‘rosumarinu’ is really quite beautiful; reminiscent of Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Grenache, all red fruit varieties that display floral aromas, silky textures and firm, polished structures. Still, it has a character that is unique to the appellation and Corsica in general; one that conveys the rugged beauty and complex makeup of this fascinating island nation.
– Frank Rothstein