Wines from Cortona – Leuta & Dionisio are grasping D’Alessandro & Calabresi at their heels

Only few years ago I did not know a lot of people who believed in Cortona as a wine zone that would enter the league of nearby neighbours like Montepulciano and Montalcino. Of course, Montalcino is with no doubt still king but Cortona has developed impressively and seems to continue to enjoy more and more prestige for every year that passes by. Due to this it would be easy to assume that house prices might have risen, they probably also have a little, but compared to other Tuscan zones it’s not that much. The wine prices on the other hand have started to scale. Which of course is very good for business but less for the consumer. So here are some good advices if you’re in to Cortona wines.

Since the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) was received back in 1999 a board of Cortonesian producers have been established (il Consorzio DOC Cortona), just as we see they have it in Montalcino. All the leading wine producers are here, some have been around for decades others are newcomers. This is where we meet two that really stands out: Leuta and Fabrizio Dionisio. Until these guys arrived in the late 90s and started making noise by the the end of the 10s all the credit went to Tenimenti d’Alessandro. Many of his wines have been generously awarded by heavy tongues such as Wine Spectator, Il Gambero Rosso, Parker, Suckling and more. Today the former owner has sold his winery to multi millionaire Calabresi who’s family made a fortune on waste. The Calabresi have invested hugely in the estate turning the originally 40 acres of vineyards into an amazing joy for the eye when you pass by (today counting 124 acres of Syrah vineyards) and as well extended the originally 100 acres of land Tenimenti started out with in 1967 into a 272 acres kind of village on which they’ve build a little town in the fraction of Cortona; a luxury Golf Resort, private appartmenst & villas for wealthy buyers.

Leuta, meaning Denis & Enzo, came across in 1998 and spend all the money they had earned as brokers on the stock exchange in Milan on 25 acres of land in the heart of the land of Syrah: Cortona. Despite of a very low budget and approximately three pairs of hands to do the hard work (wine producing and marketing), they have managed to stand out and make outstanding, remarkable wines. Their portfolio counts no more than 10 different labels among which the very best ones are

#1 Solitario di Leuta Sangiovese DOC, 2009

Tasting notes: Deep ruby red, full bodied, intense nose of spices, berries and stable, long finish and flavours of liquorice, bitter sweet cherries and sweet spices

#2 Leuta 0,618 Syrah DOC Cortona 2008

Tasting notes: Intense ruby red, medium bodied and nose of freshly grinded pepper, black berries and coffea. Long finish and complex flavours of strawberry, pepper and coffee.

I still haven’t had the chance to taste the Nautilus Single Barrel Select IGT but am looking forward to the adventure.

Fabrizio Dionisio, a lawyer operating from Rome decided to get serious with the Cortonesian family estate, bought by his father in the 70s, and has since early millenium reached the stars at record speed. He runs the wine business with his wife Alessandra, and they have chosen to concentrate 100% on syrah in their wine making and put all the effort into four different labels, one rosé and three reds.

The three reds go from really good to outstanding – here are a few words on the first two:

Tasting notes: Il Castagnino 2012 (the little brother) started out as a purple youngster with complex tannins which with the years became a beautiful ruby red guy with juicy tannins, red berries and great pepper all while it is still folding out its wings and getting closer to the velvety bodyness of it’s older brothers Il Castagno and Cuculaia.

Il Castagno 2010: Intense and deep ruby red, full bodied, very long finish, dark berries,  pepper and liquorice. Great glass of wine and 3 of them also in Il Gambero Rosso

All the wines both from Leuta and Dionisio, have very good ageing potential.

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