Cap Corse, a largely isolated and thinly populated peninsula at the top of Corsica, sits like a finger pointing up at Genova, its former colonial ruler. The Genovese landed on the Cap in the 14th century and from there soon conquered the entire island. On the Cap, they left an indelible mark on the land, building towers on the cliffs overlooking the sea to watch for other invaders. One Genovese in particular, Monsignor Doria, from one of the most illustrious families of the Genovese Empire, landed in the Cap and settled in a cove not far from the sea, creating an estate he came to call his “Gioielli” or his “Crown Jewel” in the dialect of the time. A villa was built in the middle of the hills which form a natural amphitheatre and on which vines and olives were planted and flourished.
Several centuries later, with the Genovese long since expelled, the towers they built left crumbling (such as the one on the domaines label), and the Doria estate abandoned and in ruins, a young Corsican by the name of Michel Angeli moved in and reclaimed the land. Michel is from the nearby city of Bastia, but moved out to the country with his family to escape the bombardments of the city during World War II. It was then in the countryside that he found solace as well as finding the forgotten piece of land called Gioielli. After the war he took cuttings of Vermentinu and Codivarta from neighboring farmers, some Niellucciu from Patrimonio and some Aleatico from nearby Elba Island to replant his slopes. His first harvest was in 1952 and Gioielli was reborn, much to the delight of the local seafaring and fisherman population, who have remained loyal clientele ever since.
Little has changed at the domaine since it began, and it is still Michel who works the vines and makes the wines on his own as he has done for nearly six decades. The tourist buses do not stop at Domaine Gioielli—in fact, it is very hard to find. Angeli never intended to make his wines known beyond his neck of the woods and never exported anywhere, not even to mainland France (!) before meeting Kermit. Since the beginning he has paid little attention to the outside world, uninterested in the new technologies and fads that have afflicted so many other domaines. His wines have a timeless sense of place, much as the one who makes them, a wise, gentle, true artisan who lives for his métier.