The superb Castellu di Baricci estate spreads over 150 hectares in every shade of green in the heart of the Ortolo valley, in the municipality of Sartène. The road winds its way to the foot of the Omu di Cagna mountain, between rivers and fantastically sculptured boulders. Here you will encounter Elisabeth Quilichini, who is passionate about the vineyard which takes its name from the majestic peak overlooking the natural cirque of the valley.
After you pass the bridge of Ortolo, turn right and follow the road for ten kilometres to reach the estate. The road winds through a magnificent landscape. The mountain seems almost as it has been painted with an artist’s palette knife, its slopes spread out, immense rocky plates from which fronds of plants drape. You’ll arrive in front of three large rectangular stone pillars, topped by a red-tiled pagoda which is the entrance to the estate. The dirt driveway runs through an immense vineyard lined with tall cypress trees reaching up to the sky leading to a high plateau near the cellar. The views are over the vineyards and mountain peaks are stupendous. Elisabeth Quilichini, a beautiful young woman, with smiling eyes, a woman of energy and passion for her topic, will welcome you with a cheerful smile.
THE CAREER OF ELISABETH QUILICHINI
Educated in Paris, Elisabeth Quilichini attained a bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s degree in economics, management and finance at Paris Dauphine University. She then spent a year in Venice with Erasmus to prepare for her Master's degree in viticulture-oenology. During her Master's degree, she completed an internship at Bernard Jeanjean, a renowned group of wineries in Montpellier. A traveller at heart, she returned to Italy to work as a wine merchant as well as in wine tourism.
THE HISTORY OF THE WOMEN OF THE FAMILY
"My grandmother, Saveria Polidori de Rocca Serra, owned vineyards in Ponte-Leccia and Sartenais. Widowed at the age of 39, she recreated the San Micheli estate in 1975. After her studies in Paris, my mother joined her in her winemaking activities. At that time, the grapes were sold on the vine to Ajaccian merchants but the sale of grapes became unprofitable, so they decided to make wine themselves. Subsequently, the property passed to my uncle, my mother's brother. In 2000, my parents took over the property and wanted to make the estate a real family affair. My mother took care of the vineyards, and my father took care of the olive trees. It is thanks to them that the estate was reborn. In 2010, I took over the estate, but always with my mother by my side," explains Elisabeth Quilichini.
RESTRUCTURING AND RESPECTING THE VINEYARD
The local grape varieties, Minustellu, Grenache, Genovese, Nielucciu, Vermentinu, Sciacarellu were replanted and grown organically. "Classified as a Corsican Sartène PDO, the vineyard is managed organically with an approach which respects traditions, ancestral grape varieties, and terroir," explains Elisabeth. "We created a small chalet in the valley. The Ortolo valley is a great terroir, and the mountain brings a very nice freshness on summer nights." About ten different soils with various structures make up the 16 hectares of the estate, mainly granite, sand and silt, alluvium, clay... The wines of the estate are generous, energetic, powerful, complex, refined and elegant. The cuvée "Perpetuelle" offers a beautiful complexity for a wine that is fleshy, juicy and yet delicate, with hints of toast and currants.
ACTIVITIES AT THE DOMAIN
Dating from the late nineteenth century, the farmhouse, cellar, stables and cooperage have been renovated. Three large stone houses are available for rent. In total, they have 33 beds in very well-equipped rooms. Large solid wood tables, huge comfortable sofas, flower gardens, a magnificent panorama of the vineyards and a large turquoise swimming pool, all the ingredients are there for enchanting moments of relaxation with the family. "We welcome large families of all generations or groups of friends," says our host. The welcome is personalised with a bottle of wine and a vial of oil from the estate. "The client is free to roam, and we welcome special requests such as babysitting, a special lunch... In the kitchen, we work with an organic market gardener who offers seasonal products. We are working on expanding and building a new cellar in the next two to three years. We also want to create a reception room and a wine cellar.”
VISIT THE ESTATE
A visit to the estate and the cellar always ends with a tasting in front of the beautiful panorama. "We taste our wines paired with cheeses from local sheep farmers in the valley. We also offer a tasting of our homemade olive oil. Our olive grove, composed of the Ghjermana and Zinzala varieties, extends over seven hectares. The olives are harvested with nets and milled on site. They produce an organic extra virgin olive oil, a bright and fragrant olive oil with notes of cooked artichoke and hazelnuts.”