Corsican Happiness: Domaine Giacometti Sempre Cuntentu Sciaccarellu with a Flavorful Seafood Stew (#Winophiles)

I know we’re not supposed to preemptively judge wines by their labels (or books by their covers, etc, etc), but sometimes the label really is descriptive of the juice within. Case in point, Domaine Giacometti’s Sempre Cuntentu Sciaccarellu. The label is trippy, a little weird, and yet really delightful, and so is the wine. Sempre Cuntentu means “always happy” and it is indeed a happy wine. 

This colorful vino takes us back to Corsica. (For a more in depth background into Corsica’s wine history, check out this post.) To set the stage and recap a bit, I’m going to borrow Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker’s evocative introduction to the island from their book Wine Food (which we’ll get into further in a minute):

Corsica sits southeast of France, and although it’s a French island, it hovers much closer to Western Italy and nearly touches Northern Sardinia. It’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world, with rocky plateaus, snow-capped mountain peaks, crystal-clear water, and the scent of maquis, wild evergreen underbrush, in the air. Often referred to as “the scented isle,” Corsica is home to more than 2,500 species of wildflowers as well as scrub brush and native trees. Imagine the scents of eucalyptus, rosemary, sage, thyme, rose, wild fennel, marjoram, and lavender, wafting along the ocean breeze in the heat of summer. That is the essence of the maquis. Intoxicating. And that’s basically how we feel about Corsica and her wines. Some of the world’s most energizing and stunning wines come from the island where the vines grow straight from the granite and schist bedrock and the maquis-laced winds cool the Mediterranean heat. 

Sounds and looks wild, rustic, and romantic, right? Well, today’s wine will take us off-roading from what’s already pretty off the beaten path to an extremely remote swath of land  in the northern part of the island. Domaine Giacometti is in an area called the Désert des Agriates, which is extremely arid and constantly being hit by a hot, dry wind called the Libecciu. Given the isolated conditions, it’s no wonder that very few people live here. Apparently, there’s only one small paved road and the grand total number of residents equals about a dozen. (I invite you to read the captivating description on the Kermit Lynch Website to complete the picture.)

Nonetheless, the Laurent Giacometti and his son, Christian, moved here in 1987 to take over vineyards that were planted in 1966. Christian and his wife Corinne (who oversees the business side of things) took over in 1997. Chistian in turn, has been gradually handing the reins over  to their kids, Sarah and Simon.

The Wine and Pairing

I first tried the Giacometti’s Sempre Cuntentu a while back at Bay Grape and knew I wanted to eventually feature it. It's such a fun oddball!

The winery technically falls into the Patrimonio appellation, but red wines from the region must be 90% Nielluccio (Sangiovese), and  this wine is 100% Sciaccarellu. In going it’s own way, this wine must accept the label of Vin de France.

So you might be thinking, ‘Sciaccarellu? . . . Gesundheit!’ (Listen to the pronunciation here.)

Like Nielluccio, Sciaccarellu is a Tuscan grape that left the mainland in search of an island lifestyle. In this case, the grape’s Tuscan identity is Mammolo. (It’s a bit obscure, but it is allowed a minor role in the Chianti blend.) Mammole means "violets," which is a clue to the grape’s signature scent. It’s a much bigger player in Corsica, however, it’s more common in the southern part of the island and pretty rare for Patrimonio. Yet another way this wine is marching along to its own beat. 

The Giacometti’s, however, feel the terroir around Casta (where they’re located) is really well suited to growing Sciaccarellu. Patrimonio generally has clay and limestone soils, but Casta’s has a granitic base, which adds delicacy and elegance to the wines. (They feel it also helps with their organic farming practices, as do those otherwise pesky Libecciu winds.)

On the night we had the Domaine Giacometti Sempre Cuntentu Sciaccarellu 2017, Greg and I picked up a whole mix of fruits – cranberry, cherries, with hints of blackberry. Stones, earth, a smattering of mixed herbs, and some flower petals dance in the background, along with pepper and a little bit of licorice. It’s a really juicy wine, with medium tannins, and medium+ acidity. Thanks to the juicy factor, this is a red that can also take a light chill. I think I liked it best when it was at a cool cellar temperature, where it hit a nice balance of brightness and richness. Altogether, it’s a very chuggable wine. 

To go with the wine I decided to make a recipe out of the Wine Food cookbook –– told you we’d come back to that. The book was released fall of last year, and I picked up a copy of this book when Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker came to do a signing event at Bay Grape. I highly recommend this for wine lovers of all kinds, and particularly for those looking for inspiration to explore more out of the ordinary wines. The book features a recipe for a seafood stew meant to pair with Corsican red wines. I’ve been meaning to feature something from this book for a while, loved the idea of this pairing, and thought I’d give it a shot.

I mostly followed the recipe, but made some minor changes and adjustments, mostly because the stew was more abundant than would fit in my pot. Also, I’ll note that the book says this makes 6 servings; I think it made at least 10 large servings. 

The stew was really delicious and super filling. The combo brought out a little more tannin in the wine than had been there previously, although this smoothed out a bit as the wine warmed up (I'd put a chill on it) and opened up. Notes of fennel and black pepper came out in the wine, as did more savory notes of herbs and sun dried tomatoes. On the whole, it was a happy match.

Geeky Details

Here are the tech sheet deets, combined from the winemaker and Kermit Lynch websites:

• Vine Age: 17 Years old
• Farming: Practicing Organic 
• Hand-harvested
• Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tank, with 12 days of maceration with soft pump overs. No addition except sulfur used moderately.
• Aged for 9 months on fine lees in stainless steel tank
• Not Filtered 

Money Talk

I believe I bought this bottle for $28, which is what the 2016 was listed at on Kermit Lynch’s Website, although’s average price is lower. Greg felt that the cost was just a little more than his ideal price point for this wine, and admittedly, I can see where he's coming from. I’ll call it an Attainable Indulgence for those of us who appreciate the fun oddballs of the world. 

What can I say? It just makes me happy. 

Traveling in Corsica

I have not been to Corsica, but by total coincidence my friend Julie Tesar (who also happens in the work in the world of wine, for Skurnik Wines) just got back. I asked her for some photos and tips to share, so that we can all live vicariously through her journey and dream about future adventures. All of the landscape shots here are hers, and here are her travel tips:

Definitely make a stop at Porto Vecchio, get some gelato avec marron (crumbled local chestnuts) and take a stroll. The Mediterranean beaches will suck you in with their clear, warm water and delicious beach shacks, but don’t miss the mountains!! I went on one of the most beautiful hikes near Zonza, the striking and rustic beauty of the mountains will take your breath away (also it was very steep!). 😉
 I’m ready to book a flight! 


 Seafood Stew with Aromas of the Maquis

Yield: About 10

Seafood Stew with Aromas of the Maquis

prep time: 20 Mcook time: 45 Mtotal time: 65 M


  • 5 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 ½ cups fregola sarda (a Sardinian pasta similar to Israeli-style pearled couscous, but toasted) or Israeli couscous
  • Salt (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 leek trimmed, white and light green parts, halved and thinly sliced
  • ½ sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups stock (they recommend seafood or fish stock, I used a combo of fish and chicken stock.)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • Juice of one orange
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, reserving fronds, halved lengthwise, cored, and sliced crosswise
  • Tbsp chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 1 pound clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 18 extra-large (about 1 pound) shrimp
  • 12 ounces squid tubes and tentacles, tubes cut into ½-inch-thick rings
  • Baguette or country bread for serving


How to cook Seafood Stew with Aromas of the Maquis

  1. Warm 2 Tbsps of oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the fregola until well coated. If using Israeli couscous, continue cooking until lightly toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with a generous pinch of salt. Add the leek, onion, garlic, and bay leaves and cook until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add a splash of water if it seems like they might start to brown.
  2. Pour in the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until it’s almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add in the stock, tomatoes with their juices, and orange juice. Stir in the fennel, fennel pollen, saffron, salt (I like to add it in gradually over the cooking time), and a little pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover the pot and stir in the chickpeas and marjoram. Increase the heat to medium-heat and return broth to a simmer. Add the clams and mussels, cover, and cook at a rapid simmer. After 2 minutes, uncover and add the shrimp and squid. Return the lid and continue cooking at a gentle simmer until the mussels and clams and the shrimp and squid are opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes minutes more. Discard any mussels or clams that don’t open. Taste and adjust seasoning.                                                                                                                    Note: If it seems like the seafood might not all fit in the pot, ladle some of the liquid into a second pot. Add the mussels and clams to the second pot and cook as described, until the shells open. Ladle the mussels and clams on top of each  bowl while serving, making sure to discard any that don’t open.
  4. Ladle the stew into bowls. Drizzle each portion with oil and garnish with fennel fronds. Serve with bread to mop up the broth
Created using The Recipes Generator

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The rest of the French Winophiles Blogging group is also exploring Corsica this month. If you catch this  early enough, you can join our Twitter Chat at 8 am PT/ 11 am ET by following #Winophiles. Check out their posts here:

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I leave you with just a few more of Julie's beautiful travel shots.



  1. So much to love about this post! I am an unashamed label lover and have written about in the past. Thanks for taking us off the beaten path.

    1. Thanks so much Cathie! And yeah, sometimes its just hard to resist a good label.

  2. I was almost able to smell the aromas of that fish stew through my computer! And your photos of Corsica as well as the label of the wine were awesome-take me to Corsica!! Cheers!

    1. Thanks Cindy. And yes -- after seeing Julie's photos I also want to be whisked away!

  3. I love the food and wine pairing Nicole. So cool you were able to tap a friend who just returned from Corsica as a resource. Noted!

    1. Thanks Martin! And it was such a perfectly lucky and well-timed coincidence with her traveling there. The pics really put things into context for me.

  4. Wow! You really took me there! I'm ready to pack my bags. What a spectacular in depth look in a really visceral way at this island and region. And thank you for all the links, so I could dive even deeper. I will be asking for this wine at my local shop as well as picking up a copy of Wine Food!

  5. LOVE the hippie-esque label! And the photos from your friend, as well as the seafood stew which sounds terrific! Thanks for participating this month!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!