Corsica has a reputation of "feeding its own" when it comes to its wine production. Translation: Corsican wine is not good enough to make it in today's competitive wine market. So it languishes in its homeland, poured from wicker bottle holders into the modest glasses of its countrymen and countrywomen. Or something like that. Cue soundtrack.
Though I've only had two types of A.O.C. Vin de Corse wines -- the two that the SAQ stock -- and a couple of lesser Corsican VDPS (vin de pays) wines, I really can't see what's holding these wines back. If you like a Chianti or a good French-style Syrah, you'll most likely like these.
It's almost always a combination of the Nielluccio grape variety -- a close relative of Sangiovese -- and Syrah that make up the blended red wines of Corsica. While that may be a general description of what you can expect from the French island off the coasts of France and Italy, the biggest hurdle to surmount is finding one.
Oh look, here's one! The Terra di Corsica Corse 2004 is an A.O.C. (Vin de) Corse example available at the SAQ (though the bottle may be plonk-shaped, don't let that fool you -- click on it for more). The Corse appellation requires the Nielluccio grape to be used heavily in the wines baring the A.O.C. designation. As I mentioned, expect a rounder type Sangiovese, the grape of Chianti fame. Then to the regional red grape, Syrah is added.
The resulting mix is great with food because it is light and quenching, juicy and savoury. Prune flavours offer depth and fruitiness. This wine drinks differently directly after the pour than it does just minutes later, which suggests a slight carbonation. I found it hard to distinguish this effervescence from the raspy acidity I was expecting.
Does it stand up to much scrutiny? Probably not. But the bottom line is that the stuff is a very pleasant wine to have around food.
It's a nice generic wine for everyday dinners. While most Corsican wines are traditionally enjoyed with local produce like guinea hens served in a sauce of myrtle, which is the predominant herb on the island, I had it with a stick-to-your-ribs endive salad overflowing with blue cheese and French-fried potatoes on the side from Au Pied de cochon.
Aléria, Corse, France. 12.5%.