By Francesca Hansen
on Sep 18, 2023
in Producer Visits

A Visit to Patrimonio with Clos Signadore

On Corsica, the Mediterranean’s second-biggest island, juts out a mountainous peninsula, the Cap Corse. Its landscape is closest to coastal California, but could not be further away economically or culturally.


The Mediterranean oak forests dominating the mountains conceal dozens of abandoned villages; since the end of the 19th century, Corsica, and the cape in particular, has been going through a prolonged exodus of its permanent population, even as tourism blossoms and dominates the economy. 

One immigré, Christophe Ferrandis, established roots in Corsica 20 years ago, and has conquered both coasts of the cape; in the west, Patrimonio—Corsica’s prestige winegrowing region—is where Christophe first founded the Clos winery in 2001, and in the east, where he planted a plot of alluvial land just south of Bastia, gave rise to his native-grape project, Inizia. (Note: This summer marks 22 years after the winery’s first harvest, as well as the arrival of Christophe’s eldest son, Pierre-Louis—born during the first harvest—at the winery.)

The winery’s holdings are scattered around his old stone cellar in the vineyards; we began our tour with the Morsaglia parcel, planted with Vermentin(u) and Niellucciu, and the main plot of Clos Signadore’s ‘A Mandria’ cuvées. The vines were extremely lush, deliberately kept leafy to protect from the Mediterranean sun. The verdant vines, thankfully without much drought stress, indicate the ‘monsoon spring’ of this year, as rain and sun swept Corsica much like the rest of France. Even with the omnipresent wind afforded by Poggio d’Oletta’s proximity to the ocean, mildew pressure was an issue here like on the mainland, although Christophe proudly noted that he’s never used as little copper as he did in 2023, despite more frequent passes in the vines. 

We continued on to the two Niellucciu parcels that go into the ‘Le Clos’ red cuvée—the original Clos—planted to 70+ year old bush vines, and ‘La Mine,’ a 15-year old plot on exceptional rocky soils. The mine is so rocky that the vines have become a ‘bonsai vineyard,’ yielding exceptional grapes, but the plants seem to have prioritized quality over stature, barely reaching one’s knee. 

Back at the cellar, we tasted through Christophe’s lineup and saw some slight changes to winemaking; he describes himself as someone who likes to “tinker” in the cellar.  A new clay amphora and a large foudre for vinifying the ‘Clos Blanc’ cuvée are squeezed in the winery, and the addition of Vermentino in a larger percentage to the Inizia rouge 2022 are just a few of the pending experiments. The barrel tastings of the Clos Rouge are as exciting as ever, each barrel revealing balanced tannins that are revving up to go the distance in bottle. 

Now a father and son team, the essence of Clos Signadore remains the same, with a focus on highlighting the classic expressions of Corsica’s noble varieties: Vermentino, with the minerality of the ocean, and Nielluccio, with the drama of the mountains.