2010 Tenimenti Luigi d'Alessandro Cortona Borgo Syrah
Expert Ratings
JS 92 points
ST 91 points
(Read the full reviews below)
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Vineyards of Cortona Cote-Rotie "Piccolo"

Few red wines in the world hold a candle to the greatest Syrahs of the Northern Rhone when it comes to mixing luscious red fruit intensity with fine, mineral vibrancy. In northern Italy, there are just a handful.

Paolo De Marchi turns out a Hermitage lookalike off the cold soils of Isole e Olena. De Marchi's neighbors at Fontodi make another, the storied Case Via. Even so, both wines are afterthoughts for estates primarily focused on the crafting of world-class Sangiovese.

If you had to pick one estate in northern Italy that has taken Syrah -- and only Syrah -- to Cote-Rotie heights, there's no contest. Pino Calabresi and Massimo d'Alessandro's Tenimenti d'Alessandro is in a class of its own, fashioning phenomenal 96-point Syrahs in the cool microclimate of Cortona.

Cortona is an enchanting medieval town set in the eastern edge of Tuscany. Sandwiched between Lake Trasimeno and the Apennine mountains, almost equidistant from both Montalcino and Montepulciano, this majestic estate's early plantings were Sangiovese. But Cortona is far cooler than Brunello, Maremma or Chianti Classico. Particularly in cold vintages, it soon became apparent that late ripening Sangiovese would never reach physiological maturity.

At the end of the 1980s, the owners did an about-face, and began experimenting with earlier-ripening Syrah. With a soil composition of fine sand and clay, the young-vine Syrahs were promising, offering up deep-purple color and marvelous black cherry/plum high tones. But as the vines aged and yields were trimmed back, the wines took on a far more serious complexion, marrying striking wild berry concentration, textbook white pepper and ethereal northern Rhone aromatics. It wouldn't take long before the critics took notice.

Beginning in 2006, for three consecutive vintages, d'Alessandro Tenimenti Syrah Migliara garnered 93-96 point raves from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, sporting a ticket price of a cool $100/bottle. While the Migliara again shone brightest in our recent tasting of the magical 2010 vintage, it was the Cortona Syrah that most turned bargain hunter heads with its luscious, wild plum density, velour-like texture and classic Northern Rhone backbone. This may well be the greatest under-$20 northern Italian red of the year.

Deep, dark ruby to the rim, infused with plush crushed red berry preserves, black tea and black pepper. Rich, broad and compact on the attack, packed with a fleshy mix of plum and black raspberry. Silken in texture, the finish is quite firm, buttressing all the opulence from a vintage that most consider the finest of the decade in Tuscany.

92 points from James Suckling, the longtime Wine Spectator Italian wine editor and 91 from the hard-nosed Stephen Tanzer.

Tasting Notes

2010 Tenimenti D'Alessandro Syrah Borgo Cortona
"This is really peppery like a Northern Rhone with tar and mineral character as well as lots of fruit. Full and juicy with a fruity aftertaste and round, slightly chewy tannins. The entry level Syrah from this estate with a new name. Better in 2014."
92 points -- James Suckling

"Deep ruby. Spicy red berries, smoky bacon, mint, cocoa and violet on the enticing nose. Juicy, deeply concentrated flavors of red berries, minerals and flowers are enlivened by a late burst of peppery spices on the long, pure finish. Outstanding quality for an entry-level wine."
91 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar


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