Corsicans are no strangers to rugged landscapes and isolated areas, yet there is only one spot on the island that has earned the name of “Desert” among Corsicans. The Agriates Desert is a large, rugged, empty and arid swath of land between the Cap Corse and Calvi on the northern end of the island. There are no cities nor towns, only one small, paved road, and only one hamlet, with a dozen or so inhabitants. It’s swept year-round with the Libecciu, a hot and dry wind that rolls down off the Italian coast, and it’s been an empty area for nearly a century. The wind combined with the clay-granite soils makes growing anything here extremely laborious, with the vines requiring constant plowing to allow the roots to forage deep for water and nutrients. The Giacometti family boldly moved here in 1987, taking over vines that had been planted in 1966. The appellation authorities granted Patrimonio appellation status to these vines, even though the estate is several miles from the village of Patrimonio and other vineyards. Given the isolation of the domaine, word of the wines and the estate haven’t travelled far, though an important and loyal Corsican clientele has permitted the domaine to thrive. The Giacomettis have long made a generous, approachable style of Patrimonio, similar to what has traditionally been served by the pitcher at the Corsican dinner table. The terroir here provides conditions that allow the Niellucciu vines to forage deep into the granite rock for nutrients and to ripen without excess.
To find the estate one needs to venture far from the one paved road of the region, and a good 4×4 vehicle is essential. The founder, Christian Giacometti, has gradually been handing over the reins to his daughter Sarah and son Simon after 25 years of constant and heroic labor to make wine in an inhospitable land. The kids are all right, as they say, continuing on with their unique and eminently drinkable style of Patrimonio, all the while experimenting with Sciaccarellu plantings (extremely rare for Patrimonio) and offering a glimpse of great things to come. – Kermit Lynch Importer
This “Cuvée Sarah” Vermentino which is hand harvested from 45 year old vines growing in granite-clay soils is also unique and different from the “typical” saline-mineral driven schist and calcareous soils of Patrimonio which rarely see the inside of a barrel. Situated near the ocean, but in one of the most rugged and remote regions of the island (you would never want to have any car trouble here!!) one wonders how and why vineyards were ever planted here. Judiciously fermented in neutral 2/3 oak large demi-muids (500 gallons), and then continued to age in them for ten months, this wine gains wonderful weight and a seamless texture while still remaining fresh as a daisy! Complex, but nuanced aromas of of fennel pollen and tarragon highlight the lemony citrus fruit (“maquis” as the garrigue is known) add to the intrigue of this very special wine. Absolutely delicious with firm textured fin fish…..for us in California try Sockeye salmon, Definitely worth the tariff!