I remember the first time I popped a bottle of Corsican red. It was an Antoine Arena Patrimonio and came as part of a sampler case from wine hunter Kermit Lynch. In truth I have known Kermit since 1989 when he was on a book tour for his seminal tome, "Adventures Along the Wine Route" which has been updated and republished many times since. I met Lynch at my longtime friend, and now Kermit Lynch's head of restaurant sales, Steve Ledbetter's Odeon in Philadelphia on one of my usual after university classes lunches. Those meals, which included French country wines served by the glass, were part of my education about French wines as much as working for the Flyers was about marketing, events, promotion and of course PR.
Well that day was indeed special, as later that night I was going to The Garden for the book signing and wine tasting. Lynch, who was sitting at the bar and I struck up a conversation, and since then I've been a steady customer.
Last night, with friends, I opened the 2016 Abbatucci Rogue Frais Imperial. Here's a wine that's soft like a Pinot. Spicy like a Rhône. Silky like a Provence red. And of course it’s from Corsica. I first had one of the Rogue Frais Imperial's back in 2014. I was visiting Lynch's shop in Berkeley, CA and shop manager, and another ex-Philadelphian Steve Waters encouraged me to try the Abbatucci. As a long time E Prove, Arena and other lover of Corsician reds I was of course all in.
Waters was right, as that wine, which I shared with a lady friend at Buckles and Bells that night over dinner, was something to behold. Elegant. Light on the palate but full of fruit. Beaujolais weight with Cotes du Rhone power I recall. Well the 2016 is as good or better than that first Abbatucci I had in Oakland.
Served with a slight out of the cellar chill, the wine has a light ruby red color that's so so translucent that you can almost see through it. The bouquet is like being in a strawberry patch, which is quickly overtaken by a whiff of bright red cherry fruit. Then comes the very light red plum bomb.
This is not a blockbuster, tour de force or a so-called powerhouse red. It's an elegant, silky, easy on the palate kind of wine that you want to enjoy with food, or even by itself.