2017 Clos Fornelli La Robe d'Ange Blanc
Region: Cap Corse < Corsica <France
Grapes: Vermentinu(aka Vermentino)
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; soils are decomposed slate with river stones and clay; elevage in a combination of 600-liter old demi-muid barrels and cement eggs for six months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added So2; 13% ABV
I had the pleasure of visiting Corsica, a magical island next to Sardinia, last summer. I was amazed by the diversity of its geology, from red rock formations a la Thunder Mountain (the Disneyland ride), to Yosemite-esque peaks and forests, to cliffs and arches built of gravity-defying rock piles that recall a Dr. Seuss landscape. Nowhere else has NATURE been so present – around 95% of the island is undeveloped, designated a natural park. It is also a wonderfully sunny island (sunnier than mainland France) that produces a fair amount of wine, most a bit bigger and rounder than we love, thanks to said sunshine. But Josée’s vineyards are high altitude, on the terraces of the Bravone River, where the nights are typically cooler than the more famous wine regions on the west side, and the sharp rise of the mountains from the sea cuts the sun off early and lets the cold in to help etch aromatics and texture while highlighting the rocky minerality in the wines. You see this very clearly in Vermentino, a chameleon grape that happens to be an über transmitter of terroir. Here, with her fantastic, acidic soils and cool climate (at least for Corsica), Josée’s Vermentino turns out lean, bright and elegant, with citrusy acidity, salty minerality and that distinctive coastal freshness. There is not even a hint of wood in the wine, but you can feel it in the shape – a soft edge to the angles, thanks to the proportion spent in barrel. Such a pretty wine – and utterly transportive. Drinking it, even here in SF’s rainy May weather, I feel the charm and warmth of Corsica. There isn’t much to go around, sadly, as most Corsican wine is consumed on the island, so grab some now before she’s gone.