Domaine Antoine Arena, a leading light of Corsica

Antoine Arena

Domain Arena is one of the finest ambassadors for Corsican wine. We delve deeper into this historic domain of the Patrimonio appellation.

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A terroir and a family

Located in the beautiful appellation of Patrimonio, in northern Corsica, domain Arena lies on the plain surrounded by hills.

The vineyard has been owned by the Arena family since the 18th century, when Corsica was still under Genoan rule. For many years, the domain wasn’t solely devoted to winegrowing: wheat and fruit were cultivated and there was livestock on the farm. The domain began bottling its wines from the 1960s onwards. Then, from 1977 onwards, the family decided to abandon polyculture in favour of vines.

Despite hailing from a family of winegrowers, Antoine Arena began his career by studying law in Nice, before returning to his native Corsica in 1975 and taking the reins of the domain in 1980. The domain spanned a mere 3 hectares at the time and has progressively grown to the 14 hectares it boasts today, spread over some of the appellation’s finest terroirs.

Today, the new generation is continuing in the long family tradition: while Antoine and Mariehave kept four hectares of their vines (Morta Maio and the grapes Biancu Gentile and Muscat), their two sons Jean-Baptiste and Antoine-Marie now also produce their own wines. The three entities are autonomous, but of course some tasks are done together, such as the harvests and bottling. Each domain carries out their own vinification, however. There are now three domains: Antoine Arena, Jean-Baptiste Arena and Antoine-Marie Arena.

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The vines are spread over the hills of the appellation, some on steep hillsides and others on half-slopes. Some of the vines were planted in 1982, and one of the parcels has existed for over a hundred years. The grapes grown are: vermentino, biancu gentile, nielluccio, muscat blanc à petits grains.

The domain has always cultivared its vines naturally, omitting all pesticides and chemical substances. “The only thing that’s changed over the years is the mechanization. But we’ve never used chemicals, even at the beginning, when everyone was doing it.” The domain is certified organic, though you won’t see it written on their labels. The soils are tilled, and green harvesting is practiced if need be. Compost can also be added to feed the soils.

Natural, meticulous vinifications

Vinifications are carried out parcel by parcel, they’re slow and gentle: no yeasts are added, and there is neither punching down, nor fining and even filtration is rare. Only trace amounts of sulphites are used, and if analysis shows that there is enough naturally occurring Sulphur in the wine, none is added.

The wines are vinified and matured in stainless steel and concrete, maturation periods vary but are generally long. “We let the wines make themselves. There’s no enologist at the domain, and we try to intervene as little as possible,” Marie Arena explains.

Domain Antoine Arena strives to create truly terroir-driven wines. “While a wine obviously must reflect the work of a producer, it is above all an expression of terroir”. By our reckoning, this is something they wholly succeed in doing. Some of our team members may even have already filled their suitcases with these wines, perfect for the summer holidays…

 

Cuvées currently for sale

Patrimonio rosé 2017

This fresh and balanced rosé from Patrimonio delivers notes of red fruits such as raspberry. Enjoy with your meal or an aperitif.

Patrimonio Carco 2018

This 100% Vermentino comes from the Carco lieu-dit, which spans 3 hectares on limestone soils. Produced following organic and biodynamic methods, this cuvée is one of the island’s must-try wines. It is magnificent; at once complex and delicious. Full of fruity notes lifted by a nice freshness, this gastronomic wine should be enjoyed in its first five years. It is divine paired with dry goat’s cheese or grilled fish.

Patrimonio Morta Maio 2016

This organic Corsican wine is characterised by its suppleness and fleshy texture. Its freshness and well-rounded tannins make it a delicate wine; aromas of red fruits abound. Age this wine for 5-6 years.

Vin de France Bianco Gentile 2017

Antoine Arena was the first to plant Bianco Gentile in 1997 and is one of the only winemakers to grow it. This dry wine offers up notes of ripe white fruits, honey and pastry. Decant an hour before serving. Enjoy with grilled seabream.

Muscat du Cap Corse 2016

This Muscat is well-balanced with at once a nice sweetness and lots of freshness. On the palate, there are floral notes and a touch of citrus fruits (lemon and mandarin). Enjoy with a fig or peach tart.

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