“Abbatucci’s wines are out of this world” Olivier Poussier, World’s best sommelier in 2000
Domaine Comte Abbatucci extends over 100 ha of granite sandy slopes, located in the southern part of Corsica in the Taravo valley. Among the estate’s 100 hectares, there are 18 ha of vines at about 100m above sea level but you will also find fruit trees, vegetables, olive trees and sheep which have all been farmed bio-dynamically since 2000.
The estate is one of the oldest vineyard plantations in Corsica and has been chosen to study and experiment the reproduction of ancient vine varieties. The estate grows a wide range of indigenous varieties including Niellucio and Sciacarello as well as the more obscure Morescola, Morescono, Aleatico, Carcajolo Nera, Montanaccia. Life on the estate is regulated by the rhythms of the sun, moon and the planets. The grapes are said to develop in health and harmony with the assistance of traditional Corsican polyphonic music played over loudspeakers.
If it wasn’t for Antoine Abbatucci, most of the grapes now grown by his son, Jean-Charles, might well not exist. In the 1960s, local Corsican grapes were being rapidly replaced by international competitors. Antoine was charged with preserving these varieties and, using a hectare of land, created a ampelographic station and saved the fate of 18 of them.
When Jean-Charles took over in 2000, he began grafting these old varieties onto the existing vines, and then started to grow them biodynamically. Today, 14 of those varieties can be found at Domaine Abbatucci, and there are now around 18 hectares of vines, which are planted on granite slopes 100 metres above sea level. They thrive in an ecosystem in which a wide variety of flora and fauna grow beside the vines, adding to the ecological diversity, an important part of bio-dynamic viticulture. In the winter, a herd of sheep comes to the land, and there is also a herd of striped “tiger cows”. The cows are bred by Jean-Charles’s brother, Jacque, and eaten at the restaurant run their other brother, Henri. The vines are punctuated by shrubs and olive trees.
The estate produces around 1,500- 3,000 bottles of each type of wine from these old heirloom varieties, so you’ll have to hurry if you want to experience the unique qualities of grapes that were raised from the dead. Today Jean-Charles’ wines are recognised by experts all over the world as wines that preserve the very particular and original flavours of Corsican terroir.
Abbatucci are the sole 3 star producer in Corsica in the 2019 Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France
WINE NOTES AND REVIEWS
Jean-Charles represents Corsica at The National Institute of Origin and Quality (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité; INAO) and fights for the reintroduction of forgotten local grape varieties. “I’m not against the idea of appellations”, he tells us, “but we’re living in a time where agriculture is disappearing, and we need to support the traditions that define what we do today”. The INAO admits the use of local varieties for the AOC Corse but Bianco Gentile, Cordivarta and Genovese for the whites and Altéatico, Carcajo Nero et Minustello for the reds mustn’t exceed 10% each in the final blend.
On the contrary, Vermentinu (or Vermentino) must account for more than 75% of the final blend for whites, while reds must contain at least 50% Sciaccarello and Nielluccio (otherwise known as Sangiovese but stylistically very different to the Italian wines).
In response to this, Jean-Charles Abbatucci launched his Cuvée Collection (all Vin de France) made from a blend of native Corsican grape varieties. Then in 2012 he chose to stop producing any wine under the AOC legislation. A bold move that has defined this domain. The wines he produces possess great character, and the INAO have lost a marvellous producer in this battle. As a result all Abbatucci wines are produced as Vin de France (since 2011 for red wines and 2012 for the white wines).
2018 Faustine Rosé vieilles vignes
100% Sciaccarellu. Grapes are hand harvested into small caskets to avoid damage, crushed and destemmed then macerated on skins for 12 hours before pressing. Cool-fermented in stainless steel and matured on lees for 6 months giving a very delicately coloured vibrant Rosé with intense aromatics of red fruits and stone fruit with citrus freshness. Very silky fine texture on the palate with real finesse this is very moreish and open bottles are virtually guaranteed to empty very quickly.
2018 Faustine rouge vieilles vignes
70% Sciaccarellu and 30% Niellucciu, hand harvested and fermented in concrete vats and small temperature controlled tanks. Maceration takes place for several weeks with very gentle infusion and some pumping over to give very fine tannins. Cool-fermented in stainless steel and matured on lees for 6 months. A red wine notable for freshness and drinkability with aromas of black fruits and maquis or herbal spice so typical of Corsican reds. Bright ruby colour with very fine silky tannins this medium bodied red could even be chilled on a hot day. Fine fresh and vibrant and so drinkable. A wine that needs no hesitation, just a cork-screw.
DOMAINE COMTE ABBATUCCI COLLECTION
The Domaine Comte Abbatucci Collection wines all come from a single parcel planted by Antoine Abbatucci in the early 1960's. At the time, Antoine (Jean-Charles's father) was president of the Chamber of Agriculture in Corsica, and noticed that the subsistence farming lifestyle of the mountain villages was rapidly disappearing as the villagers left the countryside for the coastal towns. Several villages farmed old vines of indigenous varietals that were left abandoned as the population left. To save these varietals from extinction, Abbatucci took cuttings of each threatened vineyard he came across and planted the cuttings on his estate near Ajaccio, in a single plot of granite soil. By 1962, eighteen different varieties had been planted. More recently, Jean-Charles has begun propagating the vines using séléction massale on his own estate, as well as supplying cuttings to other vignerons all over Corsica. He blends these native grapes from the original plot planted in the 1960’s together into four different cuvées, each one named after an ancestor (except for the Barbarossa which is named for the grape varietal). All of these cuvées have exceptionally low yields to produce a mere 1,500 - 3,000 bottles.
2013 Cuvée Collection Blanc “Diplomate d’Empire” - last bottles
This cuvee is named for a childhood friend of Napoléon Bonaparte, who served under the Empire and spent several years as a diplomat in Naples. He was faithful to the end, and fought at Napoléon’s side in the Battle of Waterloo.
Made from a blend of Vermentinu, Rossola Bianca, Biancu Gentile, Genevose and Brustiano in descending order of percentage of the blend all planted in the early 1960’s in granite based soils. Vinified in tank and aged in older 600 litre demi-muid barrels.
2012 Cuvée Collection Blanc “Général de la Révolution : Jean-Charles Abbatucci” - last bottles
This cuvee is named for a military hero of the French Revolution of 1789, who became a Brigadier General at age 25 and was killed that same year on the battlefield. His name is engraved as an “Officer of the Empire” on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Made from a blend of Carcajolu Biancu, Paga Debbiti, Riminese, Rossola Brandica, Biancone and Vermentinu in descending order of percentage of the blend. Vinified in tank and aged in older 600 litre demi-muid barrels.
‘…among the handful of most profoundly (not to mention improbably) beautiful and delicious white wines that I’ve tasted in the past several years.’
Cuvée Collection Rouge “Minstre Impérial : Jacques-Pierre-Charles Abbatucci” - none currently available
Is named for a leading military figure under Napoléon Bonaparte’s Premier Empire, and then became a prominent consul under Napoléon III.
Made from a blend of Sciaccarellu, Niellucciu, Carcajolu-Neru, Montanaccia, Morescono, Morescola and Aleatico which were all planted in the early 1960’s in granite soil. The grapes are crushed by foot and macerated for 15 days with very gentle extraction before ageing in older 600 litre demi-muid barrels.