Cortona DOC is found in Arezzo province in south-east Tuscany, Italy. The first vintage of the Cortona DOC was 2000. The production zone lies around the hilltop town of Cortona, whence the name, and lies east of (and touches) the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG zone in the Chiana Valley (Val di Chiana) in the province of Arezzo. Cortona, which is famed for the colour of its sandstone, lies on the north-eastern side of the valley, north-west of Lake Trasimeno. The town itself occupies a steep spur on the edge of the Val di Chiana and is still partly surrounded by a circle of Etruscan walls. The Museo del l’Accademia has finds from the remote past. The Madonna del Calcinaio, a Renaissance sanctuary, is nearby. Local festivals are dedicated to pigeons, Chianina beef, and ceps (edible boletus mushrooms).
Vineyard area: 2000s There were around 200ha in production in the early 2000s, and the total is unlikely to exceed 900ha.
Terroir: Cortona, is favorably influenced by nearby Lake Trasimeno, well ventilated by winds, and with rains which normally fall in the months of October-December and March-June. There are 130-170 days of sunshine per year (‘Cortona is very hot, lots of light and sun,’ one grower told me). Average spring temperatures are 11.5-12.5 degrees centigrade (53-55 degrees Fahrenheit), while summer temperatures average 23-24° centigrade (74-76° Fahrenheit). Soils are based on clay and sand.
Wine style: ‘Cortona is a land of excesses, with major seasonal variations in temperature and rainfall. Its wines can be fairly opulent and forward from the get-go, and syrah seems to have found a great home here. These latter wines will rarely remind you of those of the Rhone or Australia, but this may be partly due to relatively young vine age,’ (Ian D’Agata, Vinous, Sept 2014). In my report for the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards (for which I was Tuscany Chair) I wrote ‘Cortona concentrates on red Rhône and Bordeaux grapes but the wines often lack enough wow factor to justify their stellar prices.’
Cortona Bianco DOC: Varietal wines (85% minimum) can be made from Chardonnay, Grechetto, Pinot Bianco, Riesling Italico and Sauvignon Blanc. Viognier should soon be allowed for Cortona Bianco.
Cortona Rosso DOC: From Sangiovese (40-60%), Canaiolo Nero (10-30%), and other permitted red varieties.
Cortona Rosso DOC: Varietal wines (85% minimum) can be made from Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Gamay (Gamay has been grown here since the C18th). Syrah is said to have arrived in Cortona at the end of C18th via Napoleonic troops (who stayed for 30 years). Another suggestion is that Syrah arrived in Cortona via, in some way, via the Count of Montecarlo of Lucca when he returned from a trip to France in the early 1900s.
Vin Santo: From Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia Bianca Lunga and Grechetto (80-100%), and any other permitted white varieties (up to 20%). After five years’ ageing the wine can be labelled riserva.
Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice DOC: Sangiovese and/or Malvasia Nera (80-100%), and any other permitted red varieties (up to 20%).
Ian D’Agata, Tuscany Part 1: Chianti, Vino Nobile and Supertuscans (Vinous, Sep 2014).