Christophe Ferrandis Goes Back to His Roots
A jumble of mountains surging out of the Mediterranean, the island of Corsica is most identifiable by its long peninsula of schist jutting out at the top, known as the Cap Corse. Although only 18 miles wide at its base, the eastern and western capes are a world apart. Christophe Ferrandis originally established Clos Signadore’s home base in the prestigious Patrimonio appellation on the island’s west coast, though he always knew that a desire to return to his roots would lead him back to the untamed east.
Enter the ‘Inizia’ cuvées: ‘the beginning,’ in Corsican dialect.
Christophe, a born and bred Marseillais, spent every summer in and around the seaside city of Borgo, in the coastal plains of the east. Corsica’s most powerful cities were up in the mountains — furthest from invaders — so the flat plains of the island’s east coast remained relatively undeveloped for centuries. He had the opportunity to plant part of his uncle’s land on a plot just five miles off the coast. With this return to his childhood land, he thought it fitting to plant vines that were a return to Corsican traditions.
In 2015, Christophe co-planted the indigenous varieties of Minustellu, Aleatico (red wine grapes) and Rimenese, Genovese, Bianco Gentil (white wine grapes), an homage to how Corsicans typically planted their vines. In the times before chemical treatments, planting multiple grape varieties was a way to hedge your bets against diseases and/or weather that could impact one grape variety or another. The soil was completely virgin (organic!) before the vine planting, as the land had only been home to brush and small trees. Christophe was amazed to see how quickly the vines took to the sandy/alluvial soils, which allowed him to produce his first vintage in 2017.
Forget what you thought you knew about co-fermented wines– the Inizia Rouge has a hallmark of high aromatics and the indigenous Corsican varieties add structure to the juice. The Inizia Blanc is a floral-driven, aromatic white with hints of marine salinity. Both have such a strong sense of this untamed and isolated place.
Today, Christophe splits his time between both sides of the mountain. In the west, his Vermentino and Niellucciu vines are bottled under Clos Signadore’s ‘A Mandria’ label and are produced in white, red, and rosé cuvées. The longer oak-aged cuvées are simply bottled as ‘Clos Signadore.’ No east-west rivalry here, though– both cuvées represent the unity of two unique traditions colliding in one rugged and viticulturally rich place.