From the softness of the "Conca d'oru", which shelters the gulf of Saint-Florent and the vineyard of Patrimonio, to the sea spray and the torn coasts of the Corsican Cape, where muscats and white wines reign as masters, let's go to discover this so particular and so delicious region of the north of Corsica... Discover our travel guide in the Cap Corse and Patrimonio !
- Discover the Cap Corse Muscat at Domaine Pieretti
- Meet the mysterious Miss D
- Reviewing the classics at Domaine Orenga de Gaffory
- Become a connoisseur at Domaine Santamaria
- Pamper yourself with Intimu's Corsican essential oils
- Foraging with Marlene's bees
- See the sunset from the Seneca Tower
- Sleeping in an American house at Palazzu Nicrosi
- Bathing with the cows in Barcaggio
- Taking the high road in Nonza
- Wash your hands well... with Nebbiu soap
- Drinking a Ribella beer at Libertalia
- Jumping with the wallabys at Corsica Zoo
- Eating tuna "ikejime" at the Fisherman's Inn
- Touching the green stone of the church of San Michele in Murato
- Sharing the daily life of a beaver farmer
- Conclude on a high note in Bastia: Joseph's wine tastings at the Sud-Hôtel, Corsica Wine Tours, shopping at the Mattei boutique, dinner and overnight stay at La Corniche or Castel Brando...
It is said that Cap Corse is an island within an island and for good reason: forty kilometres long and only 15 kilometres wide, this finger pointing upwards from Corsica is a piece of land subject to the whims of the sea. Abrupt, with a summit at more than 1300 meters, the Cap Corse is distinguished by its climate, its vegetation different from the rest of the island, its winds that can reach records (more than 200 km/h!) but also its culture.
Unlike the inhabitants of the rest of the island, the Capcorsins have not turned their back on the sea. For centuries, the Cape has had a tradition of fishing and even of leaving by sea: as early as the 18th century, many Capcorsins emigrated to the other side of the world to make their fortune. Returning home with their pockets full of dollars, they built " American houses ", large residences with Italianate architecture, which are today one of the distinctive signs of Cap Corse.
As if entrenched behind amazing limestone cliffs, the vineyards of Patrimonio are well sheltered in the hollow of the Conca d'oru, the "Golden Conch", another name for the Gulf of Saint-Florent. Thanks to a micro-climate cooled by the depth of the gulf, Patrimonio produces wines known throughout the world for their finesse (especially the whites) and their ageing potential. Niellucciu is the king grape variety. This cousin of the Italian Sangiovese produces full-bodied red wines, with a taste of red and black fruits, which often benefit from ageing.
The Patrimonio PDO, which was the first PDO for wine in Corsica awarded in 1968, guarantees the use of local grape varieties (Niellucciu for the red, Vermentinu for the white) and delimits the geographical contours of the area: from the foot of Cap Corse to the micro-region of Nebbiu
However, there is one grape variety that links Patrimonio and Cap Corse: the muscat petit grain. This muscat gives a natural sweet wine with a slight touch of acidity that prevents it from becoming stale. Produced only in the Cap and Patrimonio, distinguished by an AOP Muscat du Cap Corse, this muscat is losing ground slightly today due to the evolution of consumer tastes: rich in sugar and alcohol, muscat is not very healthy-friendly. Only 44 hectares are now cultivated. And yet, how good it is, as an aperitif, with dessert or simply by dipping a canistrelli in it!
Travelling in the wine of Patrimonio and Cap Corse
Discover the Cap Corse Muscat at Domaine Pieretti
Direction Luri, in Cap Corse, where Lina Pieretti lovingly cultivates vines that seem to fall straight into the sea. Heir to the family estate, Lina was one of the first female winegrowers on the island. Today, she produces fresh and aromatic whites, rosés to be drunk all summer long and surprising reds obtained from an ancient grape variety, Alicante, which, although related to Grenache, produces reds with fine tannins and great elegance on the very special terroir of Cap Corse. Just like Lina! Take the opportunity to discover the muscat, a speciality of Cap Corse. Lina's is a delight!
For the tasting, go to the cellar: it is located on the road to the Cape (D80), near the Santa Severa marina. Open every day except Sunday. Information: http://www.vinpieretti.com/ or 04.95.35.01.03
If you're here in early July, Lina may be busy preparing for the Luri wine fair: this weekend-long event brings together all the island's winemakers, sommeliers and wine lovers. Artisan stands and musical entertainment are also on the programme. A beautiful festive dive into Corsican wine that we hope to see again in 2022...
Meet the mysterious Miss D.
Behind Miss D. is Marie-Françoise Devichi, a young winemaker who has passionately taken up the torch of the family estate in Barbaggio. First woman at the head of the domain, very active and innovative, she always has a thousand ideas to promote her wine: from Christmas mulled wine to tote-bags to a special vintage of rosé "Posey" for the festival Calvi on the rocks, Miss D is always there!
To meet her, you can go directly to the cellar, from 9am to 8pm in July and August, except Sundays and public holidays. She will let you taste her wines and explain her winemaking methods. For a more complete visit of the vineyards located a few kilometres from the cellar and a commented tasting, do not hesitate to contact her to make an appointment. These visits cost 25€ per person, but Marie-Françoise's welcome is well worth it! Contact: 06.03.83.57.03. Info: https://mlledevichi.com/
Reviewing the classics at Domaine Orenga de Gaffory
It is one of the largest domains of Patrimonio, and without doubt the most famous: Orenga de Gaffory, it is 56 hectares of vines, 5 different vintages, muscats, a rappu, a natural sweet red wine typical of the Cap Corse, and some originalities like the Scala Santa vintage, which mixes the Niellucciu emblematic of Patrimonio with Minustellu, an endemic Corsican grape variety which has recently been rediscovered and which is seductive by its aromatic richness. This year, for the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, the estate has even created a limited edition cuvée, called "Famille impériale", which gives pride of place to Sciaccarellu, a native of Ajaccio like the Emperor.
Passionate aboutcontemporary art, the owner regularly organises exhibitions in the modern and welcoming cellar located at the exit of the village of Patrimonio, in the direction of St Florent. This year, the Domaine Orenga also offers visits to discover its wines: the visit of the cellar is followed by the tasting of about ten vintages around a board of cold cuts and cheese. This one-hour visit costs 15 euros per person and must be booked by email:email@example.com
For a simple tasting, you can visit the cellar every day during the summer, from 9am to 7pm. The tasting costs 10 euros per person, which is deductible from your purchases. And it's a safe bet that you won't leave this Corsican wine Mecca empty-handed! Infos : https://www.orengadegaffory.com/
Become a connoisseur at Domaine Santamaria
Heir to five generations of peasant-winegrowers, Thomas Santamaria runs the family estate with energy and imagination. Near the lake of Padule, he cultivates vines of the unavoidable niellucciu of Patrimonio, vermentinu and muscat petit-grain which give birth to the Muscat du Cap Corse. Its reds, powerful and aromatic, are a sensitive and sincere interpretation of the tradition of the Patrimonio PDO. The rosés are well colored, capable of going beyond the aperitif, and the Muscat is refined. Originality created by Thomas: the cuvée "Montre tes yeux", with an exotic label, is a 100% cinsault from vines planted in the schist by Thomas' grandfather. A fresh and greedy red to drink in all seasons!
To get to Domaine Santamaria, follow the path to Lake Padule, which branches off from the (almost) straight line between St Florent and Oletta.
It is possible to come unannounced during the opening hours (9am-12pm/14pm-6pm) but if you want to visit the cellar, see the vines and why not meet the owner, it is better to make an appointment by calling 04.95.39.03.51.
My favourites in the North of Corsica
Pamper yourself with Corsican essential oils
The Cap Corse is still wild, and we are not going to complain about it. Nature provides treasures that Hélène and Laurent Filippi have revealed in their essential oils. Immortelle, emblematic of Corsica, but also laurel, myrtle, rosemary, juniper, laricio pine,... Hélène reveals with passion all the secrets of theplants during the visits of the distillery that she organises for free two or three times a week. This free visit lasts about 2 hours and allows you to discover the production methods and the natural care of Intimu. Info: https://intimu.fr/
Foraging with Marlene's bees
A little further north in the Cap, in Sisco, Marlène and the bees produce honeys that would make a bear swoon. Marlène has created a very personal range of honeys, including all-flower, chestnut and autumnal maquis honeys, as well as preparations based on honey, propolis and essential oils (signed Intimu!) to make you feel as strong as a bear. The shop is located in the charming hamlet of Balba, in Sisco. To get there, it is best to make an appointment. Info: https://www.mielducap.fr/
See the sunset from the Seneca Tower
Did Seneca, the Roman philosopher, really stay on the heights of Luri? No matter, one comes to the tower above all to admire the panorama: to the east, the Tyrrhenian Sea and Italy, to the west the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Saint-Florent. The climb to the tower is a little steep but short. Start from the Saint Lucia pass, where you can easily leave the car, and try to arrive for the sunset: wow effect guaranteed.
Sleeping in an American house
The Palazzu Nicrosi is perched on the heights of the village of Rogliano, at the very end of Cap Corse. The road is narrow at the end, but it's worth it: from the Palazzu's swimming pool, the view takes you all the way to the Italian coast. Inside, a journey back in time with a 19th century decor that will make you relive the epic of these Capcorsins who left for the Americas. Paul Saladini, your host, will be delighted to tell you the story of his ancestors and to introduce you to the Palazzu beer brewed in the cellars of the house in homage to his American uncle who sold beer in barrels! Information and reservations: https: //www.palazzu-nicrosi.com/
Bathing with the cows in Barcaggio
Once you are at the end of the cape, all you have to do is take the boat. From the port of Macinaggio, you can go to Barcaggio, where the large white sandy beach faces the islet of Giraglia. It is still unspoilt andquiet, except when the cows have decided to come and cool off (keep your distance, they love to skewer tourists). The beach of Barcaggio can also be reached by the customs path which leaves from Macinaggio. Count on 3 hours of walking on a path that is not very steep but which has some nice climbs. Be careful, there is not much shade on the way but there are beautiful beaches where you can stop to take a dip. My advice: go on foot in the morning, have a picnic on the beach of Barcaggio and come back by boat! Info for the boat shuttles: https: //sanpaulu.fr/navette-maritime/
Taking the high road in Nonza
After having descended the Cap Corse by its vertiginous west coast, an obligatory stop at Nonza (if you manage to park, in high season, good luck). This perched village overlooks a black sandy beach which is anything but natural: it is the rocks extracted from the asbestos quarry of Canari, closed since 1965. The rocks separated from the asbestos have accumulated, under the effect of the sea currents, at the foot of the paoline tower of Nonza. You can walk down to the beach without risk by a path that starts from the village, the bathing in the surreal coloured water can be dangerous by agitated sea.
Wash your hands well... with Nebbiu soap
If your hands suffer from repeated washing, head for Patrimonio and the Savonnerie du Nebbiu. Laetitia and Philippe concoct soaps from organic and local raw materials: olive oil, ewe's milk, honey, essential oils... The ingredients are good for the skin, the smells and the original shapes of the soaps are good for the morale, and as everything is biodegradable, we also do good for the planet. Don't miss Laetitia's latest creations inspired by Patrimonio wine, made from local grape seeds! Infos : www.savoncorse.com
Drinking a Ribella beer at Libertalia
After all these emotions, you have deserved a small beer. But not just any beer: a Ribella, the rebel, created by Pierre-François Maestracci, a child of Patrimonio who decided not to make wine like everyone else. He has created a range of beers with the tastes of the island: Mistica with chestnut flour, Culta with nepita (a minty-tasting herb from the maquis), Vampa with Corsican clementine, Immurtale with immortelle... To be enjoyed in summer in the garden of Libertalia, a family-run locavore restaurant in the heart of the village of Patrimonio, and in winter in the lair of the Minotaure in Bastia. Information and reservations by SMS: 06 23 16 41 25
Jumping with the wallabys at Corsica Zoo
No, you have not abused the wine of Patrimonio, those are dromedaries and wallabys you see. In the plain of Oletta, a few steps from the lake of Padule, the Corsica Zoo opened its doors in 2019. Created by Pascal, an animal lover who takes the greatest care of them, this animal park proposes to pass from one continent to another while discovering the animals in the greatest respect for them.
At Corsica Zoo, you can even become a "caretaker for a day"! For 3 hours, you can accompany a caretaker and take care of the animals yourself! This activity is possible on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays mornings from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, from 10 years old, in small groups of 2 to 3 people maximum. Price : 70 euros per person. Reservations at 04.95.56.77.50
Infos : https://www.corsicazoo.com/
Eating tuna "ikejime" at the Fisherman's Inn
He too loves animals, but especially fish, and especially on his plate. Damien Muller is a fisherman and recently opened a restaurant hidden behind his fish shop in the centre of Saint-Florent. Damien fishes for Mediterranean bluefin tuna in compliance with quotas to avoid the disappearance of this species, and with a very particular method: ikejime. Sensitive souls, do not read what follows: when the tuna is brought up on the boat by the fisherman, a metal spike is inserted between the two eyes in order to cause its brain death. The fish suffers less than when it slowly suffocates on the deck and its flesh is more tender. Yes, it's gory, but it's for its own good. Taste the raw bluefin tuna caught by Damien and you will be convinced. An exceptional dinner if you have some money to spend. Info and reservations (from 9 June): https://www.aubergedupecheur.net/
Touching the green stone of the church of San Michele in Murato
On the heights of the Nebbiu, the micro-region around Saint-Florent and Oletta, the church of San Michele de Muratu is a little nugget placed there as if by magic. This small 12th century church was built during the domination of Pisa over Corsica. It is built of green stone, serpentine, and limestone. If you go there in summer, you will surely meet a gentleman who will be happy to tell you about this original church and to let you test the softening effect of the serpentine on your skin!
Sharing the life of a beaver farmer
On the heights of Murato, Aurore Sardo welcomes you to her farm surrounded by chestnut trees, from which she makes a traditional chestnut flour, and her pigs. Gourmet walks to discover the chestnut grove and country meals are offered throughout the year: in winter, you can enjoy migliaccioli, roasted chestnuts, cheese, figatelli... A day out of time, to rediscover Corsican agricultural traditions accompanied by Aurore's communicative good humour. Facebook: @anebbiulinca, tel: 06.18.00.23.58
Concluding on a high note in Bastia
People often pass through Bastia without stopping, simply to take the boat, and that's a shame. From the lively Place Saint-Nicolas to the sleepy Citadel, Bastia is full of charming little corners to discover. If you want to take home some nice souvenirs, stop at the Mattei shop on Place Saint-Nicolas, which you will recognise by its red shop window, and have the origin of the local aperitif Cap Corse Mattei explained to you before you head for the very nice selection of Corsican wines. The advice is kind and wise. Info: https: //www.capcorsemattei.com/
At the Sud-Hotel, Joseph, passionate and enthusiastic, offers wine tastings during the summer. These convivial tastings, organised on the roof-terrace-garden of this more than friendly hotel, are a must for getting to know the Corsican vineyards or for revising everything you have learned in the vineyards. One tasting per month, from June to October, will be organised this year. Each time, 5 wines will be chosen by Joseph to illustrate a theme (a grape variety, a region,...) and will be tasted in aperitif mode. We will of course keep you informed!
At the Sud Hotel restaurant, where you can dine even if you are not staying on site, Joseph will be happy to advise you on wines, from Corsica or elsewhere, to match the delicious dishes concocted by his sister Angélique. Information and reservations: https: //www.sudhotel-bastia.com/
Finally, if you want to take a break in the mountains near Vizzavona, the Castellu, also managed by Joseph's family, offers during the summer wine tasting evenings followed by a private concert by a Corsican singer (Feli, Diana Saliceti,...). Joseph will concoct the perfect wine and food pairing for that perfect meal! Infos: https://hotel-ucastellu.fr/
Back to Bastia! If you have a bit of budget, go up to La Corniche, 15 minutes from the centre of Bastia, the view is breathtaking, the cuisine simple but refined and the welcome adorable. Information and reservations: https: //www.hotel-lacorniche.com/
Another 15 minutes drive north and you'll be at the Castel Brando in Erbalunga, a boutique hotel offering luxury accommodation in a historic Cape Town home. It's a treat to have before you leave the island. The icing on the cake: you can treat yourself to a treatment at the Intimu spa, which uses products made by Hélène! Info and reservations: https: //www.castelbrando.com/fr/
Finally, if you are thirsty to know better the Corsican vineyard, you can contact Dominique (we say "Dumè") of Corsica Wine Tours who proposes private excursions in the day or half-day in the vineyards of Patrimonio and the Cap Corse. Very good connoisseur of the insular vineyard, he will guide you in several domains and will make you share his passion for his island and for the wine! Infos and reservations : https://corsicawinetours.com/