Tenimenti d'Alessandro is the pioneering winery for Rhône-style wines in Cortona. The winery began experimenting with 10 acres of Syrah in the late 1980s and discovered that Cortona was ideally suited to Rhône varietals. They followed with an additional 80 acres and are now recognized as the benchmark producer of Syrah and Viognier in Italy.
Cortona sits to the east of Montepulciano in southeastern Tuscany. The mesoclimate of the area is almost identical to that of the Northern Rhône: hot and sunny with cool temperatures at night. The vineyards are planted to Northern Rhône clones of Viognier and Syrah and are farmed organically.
Fontarca (named for a “fonte” or natural spring near the vineyard) is 100% Viognier from a single-vineyard planted in 1991. The vineyard is densely planted at 7,000 to 8,500 plants per hectare between 290 and 300 meters above sea level. Fontarca was partially fermented and aged in large, truncated French oak casks for 18 months.
The wine shows classic Viognier aromas and flavors of stone fruit, honey, and citrus blossom with accents of hay, wildflowers, fennel, and orange zest. Vinifying in oak cask adds an added dimension of texture, although Cortona’s terroir can be clearly felt with unexpected freshness and a clean mineral expression on the palate.
Viognier, with its pronounced aroma and opulence, is ideally paired with whipped salt cod (baccalà) or a mild white fish such as baked sea bass poached in rice wine and miso. Fontarca possesses enough weight to work with white meats, while its freshness would complement a light salad of fennel and oranges.