2017 Antoine Arena Patrimonio “Carco” Blanc
Among French wine lovers, Antoine Arena is a living legend. In Paris, news of his appearances at wine tastings draws capacity crowds. Across France, he has lifelong friendships with other legendary vignerons and bon vivants like Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, Didier Barral, and Catherine and Pierre Breton. When Antoine began making wine, his objective was to make a name for Corsica’s wines among the greater French public. Today, wine cognoscenti everywhere regard the wines of Corsica as among the world’s most exciting and Antoine’s wines as Corsica’s finest. And it all begins with a story:
The Arena family has had its estate in the region of Patrimonio on the north coast of Corsica since the eighteenth century. But when Antoine was growing up, his family was making a modest living from their three hectares of land, so he joined an exodus of Coriscans to mainland France. In the 1970s, while Antoine was studying law in Nice, the National Liberation Front of Corsica clashed violently with French Armed Forces. As a protest of his own, Antoine moved back to his family’s farm. He began a mission to make the best wine his family’s land could make and show the world what Patrimonio was capable of. By 1980, the estate was his.
Right from the beginning, Antoine’s vineyard and cellar practices were visionary. He identified the best parcels of the estate and vinified them separately; he cultivated the estate’s vines organically and vinified its wines without any added sulfur. “We’ve never used any chemicals,” Antoine says, “even at the beginning, when everybody else was doing it. My wines have always been,” he emphasizes, “above all, an expression of terroir.” And now, after over 40 years of Antoine’s stewardship, the Arena estate owns 14 hectares of Patrimonio’s best terroir.
The Carco vineyard, which Antoine planted himself, is one the steepest, rockiest, and most dramatic in the Patrimonio appellation. The white grapes of the parcel are exclusively devoted to Vermentino, which is locally known as Vermentinu. Simply said, Antoine’s Carco Patrimonio Blanc is magnificent. I remember exactly where I was when I first tasted it 12 years ago. That vintage was for me then what the 2017 vintage is for me today: Corsica’s must-try wine. Its aromas begin with wafts of seasurf, white and yellow apricot flowers, and fresh almonds. They yield to flavors from a rich summer basket of white peaches, prickly pears, Meyer lemons, and Honey mangoes. From beginning to end, the limestone riches of the Carco vineyard suffuse the wine: through the layers of its palate, its seaside character, and its preternatural complexity.
But the outstanding quality of Antoine’s 2017 Carco Patrimonio Blanc is that it’s damn delicious! All you want to do is gulp it down. And the wine’s versatility offers you all kinds of ways to do just that — with goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, with salads and seafood, with fresh and roasted summer vegetables, or with fowl and pork. With every bottle of 2017 Carco Patrimonio Blanc you drink this summer, you’ll be saying to Antoine what I always say: Mission accomplished!