The Best Wines of Corsica

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 7 May 2024

Historically, the wines of Corsica have not been widely known beyond its shores. The island is closer to Italy than it is to France in both geographical terms and in its language, as well as through many grape varieties which have Italian origins. Shining a light on their unique island, the younger generation of winemakers is refining the quality of their wines and exports abroad are now on the increase


The island, known as "the mountain in the sea", has more sunshine than other parts of mainland France, as well as lower rainfall concentrated in the winter months, which makes for almost perfect conditions at harvest time.  In addition, there are many microclimates around the island brought about by different prevailing winds, and differing granite based soil types. 

There are two champion red grape varieties known as Neilluccio and Sciacarello, and the champion white grape is Vermentino.  Nielluccio is in fact the same grape as Sangiovese, which is so well-known in Tuscany for production of Chianti wines and other leading reds such as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.  And Vermentino is known locally in Corsica as Rolle, a name which might not be immediately familiar. Sciacarello is unique to the island. 


The whole island is covered by the regional appellation known as Vin de Corse.  There are then seven important AOCs (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée), distributed largely around the coastal areas of the island due to the mountainous interior. In the south are Porto-Vecchio, Figari, and Sartene.  On the western side of the island is Ajaccio. Calvi and Patrimonio are situated at the northern end of the island and Coteaux du Cap Corse covers the little peninsula above Bastia.  

Alongside the grape varieties already mentioned, the island is home to many others with Spanish, French and Italian origins.  You might come across Muscat, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Mourvedre, Cinsault or Barbarossa to name a few.  Many of these are used in the production of wines made under the less stringent IGP title, Ile de Beauté.  Volumes produced in this appellation are higher than for the AOCs, but the quality controls are not so strict.  Both red and rosé wines are made from the red grapes.

An important name to remember in the recent history of Corsican winemaking is that of Christian Imbert.  He returned to the island from Chad in 1964. He found and fell in love with a stretch of land at Porto-Vecchio and went about planting a vineyard which truly respected the ecosystem of the area. The Domaine de Torraccia was born.  In the next decade he was instrumental in pulling together other visionary winemakers with a shared ambition to return to traditional grape varieties and promote organic viticulture. His philosophy was always to favour quality over quantity, and his legacy continues today through his son Marc.


The island’s cuisine offers something for everyone, mixing the best of mountains and the sea. Delicious charcuterie - dried mountain hams and figatellu (cured sausage with polenta made with chestnut flour) – features heavily inland, alongside wild boar casserole. Cheese is made from sheep and goat milk with the most characteristic including Brocciu, a whey cheese, and the much stronger goat milk cheese, Tommette de Chèvre. Chestnuts are used widely in cooking.  Grilled tuna, sea bass and langoustines are typical on the coast.  Guests on our tours have the chance to enjoy the very best food and wines that Corsica has to offer.