Wine Review: Achelo Syrah Cortona 2007 by Antinori

achelo Ah the paradoxes of wine tasting. A nose of fennel, tar, and cassis? A good wine should taste like anything but grapes yet be typical of its region or variety.

We like wine to taste like what it is not, but criticize it for not being what it is.

On that score this Syrah from the highly regarded Antinori is a winner. If you’re socked in by winter storms dreaming of summer barbecues this is the wine for you. It smells like a glass full of roasted, smoked meat complemented by fresh blackberry embedded in a layer of muted earth notes. Cranberry and robust minerality characterizes the firm, disciplined palate. The tannins are supple and polished but easily overwhelmed by the tangy acidity which leaves an austere impression on the medium length finish. It is better as a food wine than a sipper.

With only 5 months in barriques, the oak influence is restrained.

It is thus classic Syrah (because of the roasted meat notes) and classic Italian (due to high acidity) although Syrah is not classically Italian. It is however increasingly common in Italy and worth seeking out for its unique expression.

Cortona, located in East Tuscany near the border of Umbria, is a relative newcomer to the Italian wine map having received its DOC designation in 1999. It features a wide variety of grapes, Syrah being among its more noteworthy.

Average Price: $16

Good: Interesting, complex nose and polished tannins

Bad: Tangy acidity distracts from the refined tannins.

Distinctive: An inexpensive, unique expression of Syrah


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