Between Linguizetta and Bravone on Corsica’s eastern shore you will find the estate of brothers Eric and Antoine Poli at Domaine du Piana. Altogether they own just under 30 hectares of land but the separate project of Clos Alivu comes from only 3 hectares of vines purchased by Eric in 2005 because of its 50-year-old vines on the limestone, clay and schist terrace of Poggio d’Oletta, a part of the Patrimonio appellation that is arguably the best AC on the island.
Two varieties are planted, vermentino for white wines and nielluccio (aka sangiovese) for reds, both of which are typical of the region. Sustainable agricultural practices are followed here though they have not sought organic certification because conditions make it a very natural form of viticulture in a place where fungal or insect pests do not often threaten, and the maritime influence is a boon, helping to keep acidity in the grapes.
Low yields are sought and harvesting is all done by hand. The reds spend some time in vats for a year rather than barrel, the rosé is made from free run juice and like the white, which also sees no oak, does not go through malolactic fermentation to maintain freshness in the wines.
|Eric Poli and his brother, Antoine, direct Domaine de Piana, the family’s 75-acre estate between Linguizzetta and Bravone on Corsica’s east coast. In 2005, Eric purchased 7.4 acres (3 hectares) of old-vine Niellucio and Vermentino (aka Malvoisie de Corse) on the terraced Poggio d’Oletta in the heart of Patrimonio, the oldest and arguably best appellation on this mountainous Mediterranean island.
Eric made his first vintage of Clos Alivu (’05) in the cellar of his good friend and Oletta neighbor, Yves Leccia, another Patrimonio vigneron who is regarded as a leader in Corsica’s recent crusade for higher quality. Eric is also married to a respected Patrimonio producer, Marie-Brigitte Julliard-Poli of Clos Teddi, whose rose gives Alivu’s a serious run for the money.
Protected by the maritime influences of the Golfe de Saint-Florent, vines cultivated on the Petra Bianca soils of Patrimonio’s hillsides rarely require treatments of any kind, so Eric’s practices are essentially organic (though without certification). Niellucio, believed to be related to Sangiovese, thrives in this ideally situated inlet at the north end of the island, and when yields are limited, results in wines with more freshness and finesse than those made from its Tuscan cousin. This freshness is readily apparent in the Clos Alivu Rose, one of the finest Corsica has to offer.