Niellucciu is the name of the Sangiovese grape (the grape used to make Chianti) on the French island of Corsica. For a long time they were considered to be different grapes, until DNA proved them to be genetically identical. It is either made into a varietal wine or can also be blended with the less common Tuscan grape Mammolo (aka Sciaccarello in Corsica). Corsica is a fascinating place. Despite belonging to the French, there is a significant amount of Italian influence due to its close proximity to Italy and the Italian island of Sardinia. Wine history on Corsica is extensive and dates back to at least Roman times but it is believed that the Genoese introduced Sangiovese to Corsica at some point during their 500+ year reign from the 13th to the 18th century. Corsica is a mountainous island with many soil types. Corsica is about the size of Rhode Island but still boasts 9 wine appellations, which encompass the entire island. Vineyards are planted along the coasts, encircling the center of the island. This land is devoted to the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, where Monte Cinto Massif mountain is located. In addition to Sangiovese and Mammolo, there are 28 more grape varieties grown throughout the island.
The wine I chose to drink this week was a 2020 Clos Fornelli Red made from 100% Niellucciu from Corse, AOP. The winery practices organic farming but the wine is not certified organic. This could be due to there being non organic practices used during the winemaking process or they may have opted not to spend the money becoming certified. This wine medium purple had long, nearly colorless legs. I could detect aromas of bramble, fresh cranberries, ripe red cherries, wild blackberries and fresh lavender. On the palate, this dry wine displayed ample acidity and tannin. The tannins gripped my palate and held on tight until they gradually faded. I quickly realized I should’ve made bolognese for dinner as it would have made a wonderful pairing. The medium bodied wine also had a moderate level of alcohol. Flavors of pie cherries, cranberries, slightly under ripe blackberries, violets, and lavender were all apparent as it rinsed over my taste buds and slowly dissipated on the finish. I got the sensation that I had chewed a blackberry with ample seeds after my sip. This wine was bright and youthful. It could definitely sit in a wine fridge for a handful of years and still drink well.