On the eastern coast of Corsica, right off the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the 45 hectare (of which 18 are vines) domaine of Clos Fornelli. Owned by Josée Vanucci and her husband Fabrice Couloumère, the duo initially sold all of their grapes to a local co-operative before making their first vintage in 2005. They organically farm all of their Niellucciu, Sciaccarellu, Vermentinu vines, and even have a few hectares of lesser known native grapes like Biancu Gentile, Genevose, and Minustellu.
Historically, this part of Corsica is known for the tiny coastal town Aléria which served as a Roman naval base for centuries. The vineyards, with vines averaging 25 years of age, border the Bravone River in the Castagniaccia mountains. Unlike the more well-known appellations in western Corsica, Clos Fornelli’s mountainous east coast location has much cooler nights and less sun exposure, preserving the wines’ freshness and aromatics.
With the goal of keeping their yields to 45 hl/ha, the domaine practices Cordon de Royat pruning, or the elimination of secondary buds. The soil is clay with a combination of small and large grain rocks. The deep soils allow the vineyards to keep up their water supply and sustain themselves during Corsica’s long summer droughts.
In the cellar, Josée and Fabrice use a gravity-fed system. They press the grapes with a pneumatic press for a more gentle extraction before fermenting the wine in old concrete tanks and temperature-controlled stainless steel. For red wines, the domaine also uses a few very old used oak barrels. The wines go through native yeast fermentation and spend a short time in vat before bottling.