Comte Abbatucci: the spirit of Corsica

Comte AbbatucciWine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you picture Corsica. However, hidden between the sandy beaches and rugged mountains of this picturesque island are some of the finest vineyards in the Mediterranean. Among them, the small, family run Domaine Comte Abbatucci is a leading light. We are delighted to present an exceptional range of cuvées from this pioneering domain, dedicated to reintroducing Corsican grape varieties to the world of wine.

Bianco Gentile, Carcajalo Bianco, Aleatico and Riminese. These grape varieties are just some of the forgotten gems from Corsica’s rich viticultural heritage that Comte Abbatucci is bringing back to life. Sparking the curiosity of wine lovers the world over, the vineyards of Corsica are some of the most dynamic, and Comte Abbatucci is a magnificent ambassador for this underappreciated region.

Protecting the local grape varieties

The Abbatucci family boasts an impressive lineage: a general from the French Revolution, a diplomat and even a minister of Napoleon III. The cuvées produced pay tribute to these great figures. At the end of 19th century, the family began to cultivate vines in the Taravo Valley in the south of the island, a few kilometres from Propriano. The cooling ocean winds enrich the wines with great freshness and allow the grapes to reach perfect maturity.

Since the 1960s, Antonie Abbatucci has been a major figure in the industry as head of the Chambre d’Agriculture in Corsica. Alarmed by the disappearance of many endemic Corsican grape varieties, he visited growers across the island and salvaged cuttings from wild vines growing in some of the properties. He then replanted these vines on a single slope rich in granite and created his own conservatory of local varieties. Not all the varieties yielded satisfactory results, but some turned out to be prodigious. Thanks to Abbatucci’s efforts, Corsica’s unique winemaking heritage lives on.

Abbatucci

A new lease of life

In 1992, Jean-Charles took the helm from his father. Aware that he had in his care a true treasure, he set about to improving the quality of the wines and made the transition to biodynamics in 2000. He replanted the vineyards with cuttings from exceptional old vines (selection massale) and the wines soon gained great clarity, balance and precision, placing them at the top of Corsican production.

Jean-Charles represents Corsica at The National Institute of Origin and Quality (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité; INAO) and fights for the reintroduction of forgotten local grape varieties. “I’m not against the idea of appellations”, he tells us, “but we’re living in a time where agriculture is disappearing, and we need to support the traditions that define what we do today”. The INAO admits the use of local varieties for the AOC Corse but Bianco Gentile, Cordivarta and Genovese for the whites and Altéatico, Carcajo Nero et Minustello for the reds mustn’t exceed 10% each in the final blend.

Abbatucci two

On the contrary, Vermentinu (or Vermentino) must account for more than 75% of the final blend for whites, while reds must contain at least 50% Sciaccarello and Nielluccio (otherwise known as Sangiovese but stylistically very different to the Italian wines).

In response to this, Jean-Charles Abbatucci launched his Cuvée Collection -all Vin de France- made from a blend of native Corsican grape varieties.  Then, five years ago, he chose to stop producing any wine under the AOC legislation. A bold move that has defined this domain. The wines he produces possess great character, and the INAO have lost a marvellous producer in this battle.

The wines from Comte Abbatucci currently on sale at iDealwine:

Vin de France Faustine rosé Comte Abbatucci 2015

100% Sciaccarello

A superb rosé with an intense nose of red fruit, peach and apricot.

Vin de France Faustine rouge Comte Abbatucci 2014

Sciaccarello, Nielluccio

16/20 La Revue du Vin de France: “A beautiful example of expressive fruit and maquis. As a whole it is balanced with good acidity and silky tannins”.

Vin de France Diplomate d’Empire 2014

Vermentino, Brustiano, Bianco Gentile, Genovese, Rossola Bianca

17.5/20 La Revue du Vin de France: “Good maturity dominated by yellow fruits. The nose is less crystalline and more confected. The mouth is dense, rich without losing freshness and has good power and length”.

Vin de France Le Général de la Révolution 2014

Vermentino, Rossola Brandinca, Riminese, Carcajolo Bianco, Biancone, Paga Debiti

17/20 La Revue du Vin de France: “A ripe and precise wine with a beautiful aromatic palette showing verveine, lemon and white flowers. A touch of fennel is also present. As a whole it is refined with excellent acidity.

Vin de France Ministre cuvée collection 2014:

Sciaccarello, Nielluccio, Morescola, Morescono, Montanaccia, Carcajolo Nero, Aléatico

18/20 La Revue du Vin de France: “Showing good maturity without excess. The nose is intense with stone fruit notes, spices and maquis. The mouth is full and concentrated with finesse and a long finish.

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Other things to read on the iDealwine blog:

The principle grape varieties of France | Part 3: the South West 

Pontet-Canet | A quest for the ideal

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