Syrah and Cortona, an indissoluble pair

The territory

Cortona, which from the top of its 585 meters above sea level overlooks the vast and harmonious panorama of the Valdichiana, dotted with villas and farmhouses, among tidy vineyards, witnesses of the ancient and historic delicacy of its wines.
We are located in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany, a region recognized worldwide for the production of great wines. Already in ancient times Pliny the Younger/Plino il giovane spoke of a prized Cortonese white wine called Etesiaca, just as the Renaissance gourmet Pope, Paul III, loved to stock up on the product of these vineyards, while Giosue Carducci often found his poetic inspiration only in front of a barrel of the “stupendous wine” of Cortona.

Today we will tell you about a more contemporary reality of these lands and how the presence/existence of Syrah in Cortona actually has a recent history that has established itself thanks to the numerous studies that have highlighted, in addition to the preparation of the land, the similarity of the Cortona climate with that of coast of the Rhone, French territory of excellence for the production of this vine. The Val di Chiana was in fact for a long time the reign of Trebbiano and other white lead grapes for the production of Bianco del Val di Chiana, a denomination now almost completely abandoned.

The origins of Syrah

It is thought that one of the first to bring it to Tuscany was the Count of Montecarlo di Lucca, in the early twentieth century, returning from a trip to France, arriving first in the Arezzo area for private collections, and finally in the Cortona area, where some companies they decided to cultivate it even before investigating its genomic origins.

As for the true origins of Syrah, certainly distant, they seem to come from the city of Schiraz, in Persia, from which it seems to have come to our country in ancient times through the city of Syracuse. Other studies show that in reality its true origins are French, to be attributed more precisely to the Rhone Valley (val de Rhône), a hypothesis that also makes use of the nature of the names of the two vines, Mondeuse Blanche and Durezza, whose crossing gave birth to the famous international vine.

The Syrah of Stefano Amerighi

What we can say with certainty is that within a few decades, the syrah has become the symbol of this territory in the province of Arezzo, with a production of a high quality level. It’s enough to say that the Cortona Doc Consortium, established in the spring of 2000, currently has about 60 companies whose production is derived for about 80 percent from Syrah.

Among these realities undoubtedly stands out the refined production of Stefano Amerighi, which we will talk about today. The company starts its business with the
desire to be able to produce a great Syrah through the family’s peasant tradition and the practice of biodynamics. To achieve this goal, two well-exposed and microclimatically suitable hills are identified in an area of the closed Cortona called Poggiobello di Farneta, where the clones and company selections of Syrah, carefully chosen in the Rhone Valley, find their home.

The management of the vineyard follows the dictates of natural viticulture and biodynamic agriculture: pruning and working the land are marked by the lunar and planetary phases; the phytosanitary defense is entrusted only to copper and sulfur distributed in minimal quantities thanks also to the use of macerates and natural herbal teas. Biodynamic preparations allow to revive the earth and avoid any fertilization and winter green manures to structure the land during the cold season.

All this to be able to bring the healthy grapes to maturity and to allow them to be vinified with the total absence of corrective products and chemicals. The grapes, after the destemming, are partly left whole grain and partly lightly pressed with the feet and placed by hand in small concrete vats without the use of pumps. Fermentation occurs spontaneously without selected yeasts, sulfur and temperature control. Finally, the aging is carried out in wood and cement, for at least 14 months, and the bottling takes place without filtration or stabilization. The result is a 100% Syrah, aged for two and a half years in the bottle, considered by Stefano to be “family silverware”.

A wine that comes from grapes ripened “at the top” of the de ‘Canonici vineyard and that is produced only and exclusively in selected vintages and considered exceptional by the company. There is little else to add, you just have to try to believe!