20060105

New sensations for '06: Domaine de Torraccia Porto-Vecchio 2000

Domaine de Torraccia Corse Porto-Vecchio 2000 Sciacarellu.
I thought I'd start out the new year on the right foot. I redesigned things a bit around here, especially the sidebar which now features an index of all my posts. This offers easy access to the topics I touch upon. Then for an inaugural review in 2006, there's the Domaine de Torraccia Corse Porto-Vecchio 2000. A rare and truly unique find and in fact the only wine sold in Quebec that carries the official Corsican appellation. This exotic specimen is composed mainly of the island's indigenous grapes. They are named Niellucciu and Sciaccarellu (please tell me how to pronounce them -- I wish I knew). In this bottle they are blended with Grenache and Syrah. So it makes for an interesting mix of traditional grapes and international varieties.

There's something resinated about this Porto-Vecchio and I noticed it immediately. It reminded me of Retsina, but please don't let that scare you away from an enchanting new thrill. It is also spicy, with light-to-medium body. It is made quite alluring by lots of nose and gentle tannins. Well-structured and a pleasure going down, it went beautifully with veal T-bone steak in a mushroom sauce, Brussels sprouts and red onion relish. I would say that it's a classic food wine. On the second night, I matched it with broiled pork chops done in lemon garlic and oregano. The overtones of resin seemed to add to the depth of the wine. Its zinginess didn't so much produce a flavour as it did mouthfeel.

This is by no means a full-bodied wine, but in my mind it's complex. The harmony of candied notes range from cinnamon to cream soda to lavender, and it also offers the mysterious myrtle. Or so I am lead to believe. Myrtle, which is new to me in 2006, is also known in the plant world as periwinkle. It imparts a flavour that is a cross between rosemary and bay leaf. The producer's webpage notes both their cuvée Oriu, another Porto-Vecchio red, and this one, by expounding at length about myrtle: Drinkers are encouraged to whip up a pigeon in a myrtle sauce if they want something to best accompany the wine. Maybe it's a Corsican thing but I was simply dumbstruck.

I find that when you don't know what an herb is or if you can't place a flavour, wines and the quaint descriptions on their labels can seem like they are from another planet, or at least an exotic far-off land, which I am sure Corsica is. The strange effect is amplified when the label translation shows signs of regional idioms. For example, pigeon, though a common French term, might be better worded in English as Cornish hen. More appetizing too. Myrtle then... what to say? Well, I guess in North America, that just conjures up images of the elderly woman who's a friend of your grandmother. But in the end, these are all foods and flavours that most people with any kind of sense of adventure could embrace and enjoy. As I said, this promises to be a wonderfully food-friendly wine, so no matter whether you've got the right fowl in the roasting pan, you'll likely react as I do: with amazement that there aren't more Corsican wines on the market. Especially those with the unique regional grapes called Niellucciu and Sciaccarellu. I can't imagine yummier flavours or a more alluring wine.

Lecci, Corse, France. 12.5%.