Integrated Bio-dynamic farm
Varieties: Carcajolu Biancu, Paga Debbiti, Riminese, Rossola Brandica, Biancone, Vermentinu
Country, Region: France, Corsica
Appellation: Vin de Corse
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.’
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.
“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.