Near the remote village of Tarabucetta, outside of Figari on the southern tip of Corsica, Yves Canarelli has made quite an impact not only in Corsica, but on mainland France as well. Now it is our turn. As a former student of economics who turned to enology, Yves strikes a fascinating balance between thoughtful intellectual and ardent traditionalist. Since taking over the family domaine in 1993, he has championed the restoration of native Corsican varietals. The appellation Corse Figari lies along a plateau just inland from the coast, where grapes have been farmed since the 5th century B.C. Though Figari is regarded as the most ancient growing region of Corsica, it has still taken pioneers like Yves having the courage to rip out entire vineyards of foreign varietals before Corsican wines have finally received the recognition they deserve. While the INAO remains slow to approve bottlings of some of the oldest of these heirloom varietals, often reducing them to the inferior “Vin de FranceĒ appellation, Yves Canarelli defends the history of Figariís terroir with passion, confidence, and conviction.
Although sparse in quantity, the granite and red alluvial soil at Clos Canarelli is nonetheless rich in minerals. The ever-constant wind from the Gulf of Figari makes for challenging growing conditions: while it serves as a terrific natural antiseptic for the vines, it can also dry the soil out easily. Yvesís choice to convert the domaine to both organic and biodynamic viticulture has made it possible for his wines to display an unusual freshness, complexity, and aromatic intensity that others in Figari have been unable to achieve. In the cellar, Yves only uses indigenous yeasts, and prefers slow, deliberate, precise fermentations, and leaves his reds unfiltered. Ever the scholar, he also enjoys experimenting with egg-shaped cement tanks (modern-day amphorae) and whole cluster fermentations.
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