‘tête à tête’ with Maria-francesca Devichi : invoking bottled poetry ..

Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 020I like on the table, when we’re speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine” – if Neruda only knew how these words rang true – somehow, I believe he did. My encounter with Maria-francesca Devichi, brought these words to life; but, instead of sipping wine, I was ever so pleasantly savouring her incredible ‘muscat’, while she spoke with eagerness about her reputable domain.

My approach had been as follows. Years ago, I remember having tasted an absolutely divine muscat in the small, quaint, northern village of Barbaggio – so, with these recollections well intact, I was excited in returning and finding out for myself – whether this was still the case. My opinion has not altered, may I add – the best muscat in Corsica is still from Barbaggio without hesitation, I confirm once again.

What is Maria-francesca’s story after all ?   Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 007

It all started twelve years ago, when she became the lady of the domain. And here, I must add she had not particularly envisaged such a task, as her previous studies had been directed to a more scientific branch. At this moment, she was undertaking the work of six generations; for this was the case – involving forty hectares of land, out of which twenty seven are labelled AOC – quite a handful, one could say. With interest and patience, she worked her way up the ladder of knowledge, attending agricultural and oenological studies and deciding even to visit abroad, choosing Australia and the US (California). For twelve years now, as I have already stated, she is bathing within.

So, why does she find wine so attractive ?

atmosphere, approach revealing itself little by little, exchange – the mystical experience; Bacchus, the god of wine and celebration …

and the possibility of adding her personal touch to a creation. Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 013(2)

Here again, the Corsican culture is very attached to this; wine being transformed into Christ’s blood through religious ceremonies, is a perfect example. She realises that this is no longer a career, but rather a way of life, through attitude and a very certain sense of responsibility she experiences, which guide her daily.

Now, what choices do we have, concretely ?

AOC red, rosé, white and muscat – to which one may add myrtle liqueur, and ‘vin d’orange’ aperitif.

The region of the Conca d’Oro includes Barbaggio, Farinole, Oletta, Patrimonio and Poggio d’Oletta. As regards the recent decision to classify the Corsican vineyards of Patrimonio, she believes this is a wise decision – to protect this agricultural zone, before possible excess in any way, and preservation of this cultural site for younger generations to follow, and establish themselves within.

Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 003(1)Does she have a favourite moment ?

Yes, she does – the wine making process, just following the harvest. Speaking of the harvest, for the muscat this starts around end August, lasting about fifteen days; then comes in turn, the time for white, rosé and red – lasting, around one month; the actual wine making process then lasts until end of October.

And after this, what happens ?
In December, the trimming of the vine, along with the furrowing, replanting, and other necessary works and any constructions that have to be undertaken too – all of this goes on up to the month of May. We clearly learn it is an all year round occupation, not to mention the administrative side, which too, takes up necessary time.

So, just how many participate in this adventure ? 

all year around, there are seven employees; now, during the harvest, this amount goes up to twelve. Let us remember, this family is the only wine producer left nowadays in Barbaggio, and if you take the whole region into account, there would be around thirty two, all in all.

All of the above, led to my next question: just how many litres do you produce per year ?

– 1400 hectolitres, is the answer here

What about overseas sales in all of this ?  Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 019

– 80% exported to Asia, Italy, Germany, Poland and the US mainly, – leaving 20% direct sales between Corsica and the mainland.

Any particular tendencies recently ?

yes, sparkling muscat has been certainly a tendency for the past seven or eight years, although Maria-francesca does not cater for this product – which did not bother me personally, as I never took to it myself. Rosé too has been growing constantly.
Most popular sales ?
Muscat and rosé – with a reasonable price range too: 7.50e for wine, and 9.00e for the muscat and aperitifs. Muscat being at 16°, red wine at 12.5° and white wine at 12°.
This led me to asking what their best years had been, of course, to which the answer is : 1982, 1998 and 2013.

Joyce liked to say ‘white wine is like electricity ..’ – whatever your choice, make it real wine; for choice of quality will not let you down and you will savour droplets of ancient times always – products of culture and tradition, a particular climate and soil, always evolving.

What fears may she have for the future ?

Constant climate change, becoming regular/present even here and any possible disease – the fact of the matter remains, when working in agriculture, one is never shielded from natural disasters.

Any particular rewards over the years ?
Yes, in Miami in 2012, for the muscat ‘Frutti di Sole 2005’ and also during the challenge for the best French wines for the US (within which someone else had actually shown a bottle of their wine).

Also featured in the Guide Hachette as their red wine had been chosen in 2012, and sampled by a Corsican panel.

Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 011(3)
What would she like the future to hold ?
Her own ecological cellar, right there in their vineyards ! a perfect spot, calm and shaded within natural undulating landscape.
If she was to give any advice, what would it be ?

To be always open to new discoveries, and allow oneself to learn, observe and distinguish what we like, even if this means liking what others do not like – not to be afraid to innovate too!

The hours swept by gracefully, I was quite contented just sitting there, sipping my muscat and listening to her speak with conviction and enthusiasm … my mind then wandering to Keat’s purple stained-mouth and Homer’s wine dark sea .. the beverage of the gods .. yes, and bottled poetry.  Olmeta di Tuda + Domaine Devichi Barbaggio 022(1)







AOC = PDO designation of origin

Domaine Devichi, 20253 Barbaggio –  contact: m.f@wanadoo.fr



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