Syrah "Castagnino" 2021, Fabrizio Dionisio

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Tasting notes
“Castagnino” is the younger, but equally loved, brother of Dionisio’s flagship wine, “Il Castagno.” It was born from Fabrizio’s desire to fully experiment with the potential of the Syrah vine in Cortona. In this case, he wanted to produce a Syrah with completely different characteristics from those of Il Castagno, so these grapes are harvested slightly earlier than those used for the production of their other red Syrahs. Freshness and acidity are the goal in this wine, more than the power and concentration of sugars and extracts, and it does not mature in wooden barrels but only in concrete barrels.

Castagnino is a particularly fresh and fruity wine, with aromatic notes of plum, cherries, wild blackberries, and juniper berries; blue/purplish fruit, lavender, mint, spice, and licorice are front and center. There are also compelling and pleasant floral and herbaceous traits. Tasty, fragrant and balanced in the mouth, with good structure and notable concentration, combined with lively and pleasant acidity. This juicy, uncomplicated Syrah is a fine choice for drinking now and over the next handful of years.

Pairing Ideas
Braised lamb shank, grilled portobello mushrooms, and a blackberry-juniper sauce!

Oligocene formation with loose, sandy, loamy soil rich in skeletal material (marl and clay schist, marl, and fine quartzose feldspathic calcareous sandstone).

Vine age
About 25 years

Harvested by hand, slightly early | Gently de-stemmed | Spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tanks, followed by two weeks’ maceration | Natural malolactic fermentation; only free-run juice is used | Aged eight months in glass-lined cement vats

About the Winery

After over 30 years of research and comparison, Attilio Scienza, a renowned Ampelologist (one who studies the cultivation and production of vines), demonstrated the suitability of Cortona's terroir for growing Rhône varieties. This is due to the similar soil and climate conditions shared by both regions. In 1990, Cortona was granted DOC status as a result of these studies. Napoleon's introduction of these grape varieties was not to disrespect Italy but to enhance agricultural outcomes in these areas. Consequently, Cortona is now recognized for producing historic wines that reflect its French influence.

In this context, Fabrizio Dionisio's winery stands out for its dedication to artisanal winemaking. They meticulously handle every aspect of production, from the vineyard to the cellar, emphasizing environmental respect and creating wines with character. Sergio Dionisio purchased a small estate called Il Castagno in the early 1970s, later expanding it with the acquisition of Poggio del Sole in 1992. Situated in the hills facing Cortona, Il Castagno includes vineyards and an olive grove. Today, Alessandra and Fabrizio, Sergio's son, manage this family estate and hold European certification for their organic farming practices.

Initially led by Federico Curtaz and Attilio Pagli, the winemaking operations are now overseen by Oriol Parés Marcé. Critics praise their wines, describing Il Castagno's Syrah as a delightful wine with rich fruit flavors, hints of dark chocolate and leather, culminating in a smooth finish with robust cherry notes.

The fame of Tuscany for Syrah and Viognier can be traced back to the early 19th century, when Napoleon's affinity for Rhône Valley wines led to significant changes in Tuscany's social and economic landscape, including the introduction of Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon as mandatory crops. What is certain is that Syrah has objectively been present in the Arezzo area for more than a century, so much so that it can now be considered a "local" cultivar, and that for a few decades this variety has demonstrated that it has settled perfectly in the Cortona area and can yield truly extraordinary results if grown with appropriate care.