Wine geek site(s) of the week – Corsica

affiche mattei cap corse 1930There are some wine regions for which the web is just overflowing with great information. And there are some regions for which, well, there just isn’t much. Corsica is definitely one of these, though after much digging — it’s taken years! — I’ve managed to find a few good resources. I thought it would be fun to walk through how to find information about Corsica using Able Grape, and along the way share some of the great French wine resources we’ve found, as well as some tips for finding great wine information in general.

The first and most important choice you’ll make is what query to use. I always start with the most general: Just type Corsica (I recommend doing that now, otherwise the rest of this post won’t make much sense!). On other search engines you’d need to type Corsican wine to avoid general results about Corsica, but here you don’t need it, and it may even make good results go away (why? remember that the search engine will usually literally look for the words that you type, and that many good results might not be called “corsican wine,” they might just be called “corsica” in the context of a site all about wine, or they might be called “vins de corse.”).

The first thing you notice — whoa! — is that most of the results are in French. The reason for this is simple: almost all the best resources for Corsican wine are in French. My philosophy in designing Able Grape was to try to provide the most authoritative results for a topic, in whatever language they’re in, because wine is a global topic, and many times the best information on a topic will be in another language. I didn’t want to hide these results; I’d rather give you, the user, the choice. Maybe you’re looking for a good map, where language doesn’t matter, or some specific piece of information that’s only available in a foreign language. I felt I’d be doing you a disservice by hiding these potentially useful results. That said, I tried to make it as easy as possible to explore through them to find what you want. Here are some tools to help you find English-language results should you need them:

  • If all you’re looking for is a quick overview of Corsican wine, try filtering by reference sources. This will limit your results to glossaries and encyclopedias, and is a great way to get a definition for a term, or a quick overview of a topic. Many, but not all, of these are in English. Among other sites, the Oxford Companion to Wine (highly worth a subscription) and Wikipedia usually show up. And interestingly, one of the results in this case is a translation dictionary of wine terms between Corsican dialect and French (we aim to please even the geekiest of wine geeks).
  • There are also some UI tricks to help you find results in your desired language. First, the flags will tell you what languages a site can provide, and the flag at the left tells you the language of this result. This is where the more from this site box comes in handy (that’s the box with the ▼ in it to the left of the result). Click on this to “peek inside” the site and see what content exists in other languages. Then click again to return instantly to your original results.
  • I’m planning to provide some translation tools as well, and I welcome any suggestions or comments you may have about how Able Grape deals with languages.

Now let’s look at the results. Note that since Able Grape is constantly evolving, if you are reading this long after it was published, the results may look very different. Here’s what they look like this morning:

  1. Les Vins de Corse. This is the official site of Corsican wines, from the CIVC (the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Corse). Unfortunately, they’ve recently redone it in Flash, making it challenging for a search engine, and most of the content is fluffy and market-y. However, though the UI is all in French, there is a good, fairly meaty overview of Corsican wines in English, under Téléchargements (“downloads”). (That’s why those language flags are there; sometimes they can tell you when it’s worthwhile to dig).
  2. CIVAM Corse. It took me forever to find this site for Able Grape, but this is the best wine-geek site on Corsican wine. It’s not fluffy, it’s not pretty, it’s hard to navigate (hint: use the more from this site box to peek inside), but deep inside (under “Publications et résultats”) there are PDF files of all their research publications, from statistics to varietal information to winemaking practices. Check it out.
  3. Vins de France. This site, from VINIFLHOR, the wine and horticulture part of the French Ministry of Agriculture, has good basic overviews of French wine, written a Babel of languages (on any page, click on the ‘language’ link at the bottom to get the language you want). Here’s another case where more from this site is useful. Inside, there are results for both “Corsica” (the region) and “Corse” (the region-wide appellation).
  4. Collectivité Territoriale de Corse. This is Corsica’s regional government, and while the site is obviously quite general, if you explore around, there are some goodies to be found. Again, the more from this site box is a fast way to see what’s inside. That last document, Plan relance viticulture Corse, has all kinds of statistics and information about Corsica’s economic plans for its wines.
  5. INAO (Institut National des Origines et de la Qualité). The INAO regulates production of all Appellation Contrôlée wines in France, and their site is, quite simply, the most up-to-date and authoritative site on French wine. They have the complete production laws (click on the links that say Texte) and accurate overviews (click on the links that say Fiche) for every French AOC or VDQS wine. (Tip: in Able Grape, you can get this information for any French wine by typing the name of the wine and using the “Regulations” or “Official Body” filters, or simply by typing the name of the wine plus “INAO.” We did a little special work to index these; this content is not in Google, no matter how hard you look!).
  6. Pierre Lotigie-Laurent’s site La Planète-Vin is a labor of love, and full of good information, if a little out of date in places. It still remains, in its modest way, one of the best references on French wine on the internet.
  7. AGRESTE is the statistics organization of the French Ministry of Agriculture, and the site is chock-full of maps and data. It’s about agriculture in general, so you may have to dig a bit, but even on the main Corsica page (the one in this result set) I found a great up-to-date overview of Corsican agriculture that shows how agriculture, including wine production, has evolved in the last decade. (For you data geeks, there is also INSEE, the National Statistics and Economic Study Institute, on the next page of results).

Well, there you have it. Hopefully you find my logorrhea useful. As an old physics teacher of mine used to say at the beginning of each class: “Problems? Anxieties? Questions?” Have you found other great resources on Corsican wine? I’m all ears; I’d like to make Able Grape the best it can be.


1 Response to “Wine geek site(s) of the week – Corsica”

  1. 1 Natalie MacLean June 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Great blog! I’d love to hear your suggestions for pairing Corsican wines with different dishes (for my online matching tool).


    Editor of Nat Decants Free Wine Newsletter

    Author of Red, White and Drunk All Over

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