Wine is Corsica's largest and most important export. Following the overproduction of the pieds noirs in the 1960s, the island undertook a massive uprooting campaign, returning the vineyards to their previous capacity of roughly 17,297 acres (7,000 hectares) [source: CIV Corse]. From then on, the emphasis has been solely on quality, as well as on the modernization of both viticulture and marketing techniques.
These efforts have been recognized by the awarding of nine AOC designations. A full 70 percent of Corsica's AOC wines are marketed locally, and mostly consumed during the intense summer tourist season. The remaining 30 percent are exported [source: CIV Corse].
The great majority of Corsica's best wines are made from the three distinctive Corsican grape varieties:
- Sciaccarello is the emblematic Corsican wine grape and is unique to the island. Its name means "crackling" or "crunchy," referring to the texture of its pulp when eaten. This variety grows best in the granite soil of western Corsica, from Ajaccio to Sartene. Its flavor is lively and peppery, with a nose of fruit, spices and flowers. It is used in both reds and rosés and is usually accompanied by Nielluccio or Grenache [source: To Know More About Wines] grapes.
- Nielluccio is the dominant vine of the Patrimonio region, suited to its limestone soil. It lends a deep color and body to red wines, with high tannins and a bouquet reminiscent of licorice. The most popular Corsican wine grape, it accounts for 35 percent of the island's vineyards by surface area [source: CIV Corse].
- Vermentino is Corsica's dominant white wine grape, and responsible for some of the finest whites in the Mediterranean. When picked at maturity, Vermentino produces bold, dry whites with a delicate flavor; when picked late, the sugar content increases, and it can be converted into wines resembling liqueurs [source: To Know More About Wines].
These grapes transmit the flavor of their illustrious lineage.
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