2017 Antoine-Marie Arena,Vermentinu, Patrimonio Blanc, Hauts de Carco, Corsica, France.
One of the world’s most interesting and geeky versions of Vermientino is the Arena Hauts de Carco, it is an all organic grown wine of Vermentinu (the local name) from the estate’s steepest and rockiest vineyard set on a mix limestone, chalk and clay soils. The northern side of Corsica sees more limestone than the southern part with its granite based soils and the wines here are striking for their class and depth that rivals much more prodigious regions of the mainland, especially these Arena bottlings, like this Hauts de Carco that delivers a steeliness almost Chablis character, which are some of the Island’s most rare and intriguing. Antoine-Marie recently got his own parcels, when the family split the estate, allowing this talented young winemaker to get his start with some fabulous material to show off his skills with. Interestingly, and according to his importer Kermit Lynch, Antoine-Marie refers to Vermentinu as Malvasia on his labels as this was the original name in Corsica for this grape variety, though it is not the same as true Malvasia, a story I’ve never heard before. Arena’s new set is on par with Corisica’s elite winemakers such as Yves Canarelli, Yves Leccia and Comte Abbatucci, all makers of outrageously good stuff from this remote and prideful place.
Vermentinu/Vermentino is also known as Rolle, and it has become the main white grape on Corsica and the terroir here produce some of the best examples in the world. This Hauts de Carco was fermented and aged in stainless steel with native yeasts and shows incredible purity, but thrills on the medium bodied palate with a great combination of acidity and texture with lemon/lime, peach and apple fruits along with crunchy mineral and chalky stony elements as well as a hint of white flowers, snappy herb and lees notes. This 2017 is truly exceptional stuff and will continue to impress for a few years, plus it’s magic with food, everything from creamy/tangy goats milk cheese to clams in broth as well as sushi. Arena does many small batch bottings and they are extremely rare and have an almost cult like following, it is hard for Kermit Lynch to keep up with allocation requests, but these are wines to search out, especially this one, as well as their skin contact version, their Blanco Gentile, a native only varietal that has gained attention in recent years, plus the reds made from Niellucciu (Sangiovese) along with local grapes Morescone and Carcagholu Nero. It was great to taste the latest from Antoine-Marie, who is carrying on his family’s traditions and taking the wines to the next level, after years of following this domaine I am more excited than ever to see what’s next here!
($46 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive