Corsicans are no strangers to rugged landscapes and isolated areas, yet there is only one spot on the island that has earned the name of “Desert” among Corsicans. The Agriate Desert is a large, rugged, empty and arid swath of land between the Cap Corse and Calvi on the northern end of the island. There are no cities nor towns, only one small paved road, and only one hamlet, with a dozen or so inhabitants. It’s swept year round with the Libecciu, a hot and dry wind that rolls down off the Italian coast, and it’s been an empty area for nearly a century. The wind combined with the clay-granite soils makes growing anything here extremely laborious, with the vines requiring constant plowing to allow the roots to forage deep for water and nutrients. The Giacometti family boldly moved here in 1987, taking over vines that had been planted in 1966. The appellation authorities granted Patrimonio appellation status to these vines, even though the estate is several miles from the village of Patrimonio and other vineyards. Given the isolation of the domaine, word of the wines and the estate haven't travelled far, though an important and loyal Corsican clientele has permitted the domaine to thrive. The Giacomettis have long made a generous, approachable style of Patrimonio, similar to what has traditionally been served by the pitcher at the Corsican dinner table. The terroir here provides conditions that allow the Niellucciu vines to forage deep into the granite rock for nutrients and to ripen without excess.

To find the estate one needs to venture far from the one paved road of the region, and a good 4x4 vehicle is essential. The founder, Christian Giacometti, has gradually been handing over the reins to his daughter Sarah and son Simon after 25 years of constant and heroic labor to make wine in an inhospitable land. The kids are all right, as they say, continuing on with their unique and eminently drinkable style of Patrimonio, all the while experimenting with Sciaccarellu plantings (extremely rare for Patrimonio) and offering a glimpse of great things to come.

WINES

Patrimonio Rouge “Cru des Agriate”

This truly a wine that represents the land of Patrimonio. Niellucciu grapes from 10 to 45 year old vines right in the heart of this rugged landscape are hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tank and then aged for 10 months on fine lees in steel until bottled. The resulting wine is one of brightness, freshness, incredible texture, and full of terroir.