Getting by with a little help from my friends:
A Corsican wine tasting in western Pennsylvania

by Tom Fiorina on September 8, 2014

While I talk about Corsican wine, Doug Bell shows his prowess with a corkscrew.

While I talk about Corsican wine, Doug Bell shows his prowess with a corkscrew.

This was a busy summer, with a biennial visit with my family back in Pennsylvania, followed by our annual “August 15th” celebration in Corsica with my wife’s family. Both visits were special this year. In Pennsylvania, we had a family reunion that allowed me to reconnect with cousins whom I hadn’t seen in decades, and in Corsica we celebrated my in-laws’ 60th Wedding Anniversary.

The U.S. leg of our summer vacation included a wine-tasting for friends back in western Pennsylvania. A wine-tasting is no big deal, right? You just need some wine and wine glasses. Well, the problem is that these friends were interested in tasting Corsican wine. I can bring a bottle, or two in my luggage but that wouldn’t begin to provide enough wine for a tasting with 20 or more people. Finding Corsican wine in Pennsylvania, which has state-run liquor stores with a limited selection of wine, was, I believed, impossible.

Fortunately, I’ve become friends with Chris Santini, who works out of Beaune, in Burgundy, for the main importer in the U.S. of Corsican wine, Kermit Lynch in Berkeley, California. Chris, whose wife has family in Pennsylvania, informed me that the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) also sometimes referred to, by wine lovers, as the Ayatollahs of Alcohol, had recently begun purchasing a Corsican wine from Kermit Lynch.

Even better, this wine was from one of my favorite wine producers on the island, the Domaine Maestracci in northern Corsica’s AOC Corse Calvi region. So, we had our wine, and thanks to another friend, Jae, who I worked with many years ago at a Pittsburgh hospital, we would soon have a venue for this wine-tasting. When I knew her back when, when I was still in short pants and wet behind the ears, Jae was Director of Volunteer Services. Jae’s volunteer corps was a model of efficiency and, despite its name, a shining example of professionalism. Using the same esprit de corps, along with her extensive network of friends and contacts, Jae found the perfect setting for the wine-tasting: the backyard patio of Dennis and Marg Keyes’s summer home, deep in the woods north of Pittsburgh. Others who were essential to the evening’s tasting included Mickey Bell, who depleted the supply of Corsican wine at Pittsburgh-area State Liquor Stores, and her husband Doug, who opened most of the bottles that Mickey had purchased.

I’d be in error if I didn’t also thank my lovely wife who helped with the translation and pronunciation of Corsican nomenclature using during the presentation that accompanied the tasting and my eldest son who handled much of the serving duties.

And thanks to everyone who attended the tasting; your interest in Corsican wine indicates that the PLCB needs to deepen its selection of these fascinating wines.

Jae and her husband Andor offer a toast at the Corsican wine-tasting she helped organise this summer.

Jae and her husband Andor at the Corsican wine-tasting she helped organise this summer.

Photos by Dennis Keyes
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L.M. Archer October 2, 2014 at 22:27

Tasting some D. Maestracci tonight, along w/ a D. Giacometti – recommended by
Lyle @ KLWM…small world. 🙂

Tom Fiorina October 4, 2014 at 17:44

Thanks for your comment, Lyn. Whichever state you live in obviously has a better selection than Pennsylvania of Corsican wine. I wrote about the Domaine Giacometti in Corsica’s Désert des Agriates back in 2010.

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