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During a recent island escape of my own to the East End of Long Island, I brought along a Corsican red wine, an AOC Patrimonio Rouge from Yves Leccia Vigneron, as a thank-you gift to my hosts, who are proudly Corsican on one side of the family.
Yves Leccia, Winemaker
A father, son, and grandson of wine growers, Yves Leccia chose the natural path when he chose to attend oenology school and return to Corsica to continue and revitalize his family winery.
In 2004 he ventured out on his own on a plot of vineyards that he considers to be the finest growing area in his native Patrimonio. This terroir, “E Croce,” faces the gulf of St. Florent and is particularly rich in the appellation’s signature chalk and schist-rich soil type.
Yves mostly works alone, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. He’s adamant about allowing the land to speak through the wine. He farms organically and avoids oak-barrel aging at all costs.
Leccia is an active member of the wine industry as well, with leadership positions within the Syndicat des Vins de Pays, CIVC (Center for Viticultural Research), and Uva Corse, a Paris-based association for the promotion of Corsican wines.
He and a handful of other winemakers are credited with the current burgeoning interest in Corsican wines in the French market.
Yves knows plenty about harmonious winemaking. In a delightful twist, he is known on the island as much for his exceptional wines, as he is for being a founding member of A Filetta, a legendary all-male, Corsican polyphonic singing group.
He currently produces small batches of AOC Patrimonio and IGP Île de Beauté wines.
AOC Patrimonio was the first Corsican AOC wine appellation to be founded, in 1968. It is now one of nine distinct Corsican AOCs. The delineated growing area lies on the northern part of the Island, on the slopes surrounding the town of Patrimonio, hence the name of the AOC. It also comprises the communes (townships) of Barbaggio, Farinole, Oletta, Poggio d’Oletta et Santo-Pietro-di-Tenda, and Saint-Florent.
AOC Patrimonio Terroir
The area is protected from strong maritime winds by a cluster of mountains in the northeast. The tempered breeze provides aeration for the vines and protection against pests and disease. The very same humid sea air makes up for seasonal dry spells.
The soils are rich in chalk, clay, and schist, a beautiful balance of drainage and hydration that yields healthy fruit with pulpy aromas, lasting acidity, and a pleasant mineral finish.
AOC Patrimonio Grape Varieties
AOC Patrimonio can be produced as both a white wine (AOC Patrimonio Blanc), and a red wine, (AOC Patrimonio Rouge).
The white is made from the Vermentino grape variety (locally known as Vermentinu or Malvoisie de Corse), whereas the red is made from a local clone of Sangiovese, known as Nielluciu or Nielluccio and blended with Grenache, Sciacarello, and Vermentino.
AOC Patrimonio Tasting Notes
The white version of the AOC exhibit ripe round sunny fruit, with classic Vermentino notes of lemon, sweet green herbs, and a balanced mineral finish.
The reds are bursting with deep, dark red fruit, and earthy floral notes like cassis and violet and notable tannins, which provide balance and longevity.