This week we were fortunate enough to source a selection of rare, aged parcels of single-vineyard Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, direct from the cellars of Castello di Ama. This winery has been a leading light in the renaissance of the Chianti Classico region and should be firmly on everyone’s fine wine radar. Castello di Ama is a must-have for anyone seeking out the finest wines made in Italy. Antonio Galloni of Vinous recently stated that the Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Gran Selezione ‘Bellavista’ 1990 is “one of the greatest wines ever made in Italy.”
Castello di Ama is one of the pre-eminent estates in the Chianti Classico region. While situated on one of the finest hills in the Chianti Classico region, Castello di Ama has only been making wine at the property since 1972. In that time, it has risen to the top of the ranks of Chianti production, producing three separate Chianti Classico Gran Selezione cuvees, a straight Chianti Classico made entirely of the younger vines (10 years old) and their L’Apparita – the first pure Merlot wine made in the Chianti Classico region. The vineyards are based in the southern edge of the Chianti Classico region between 390 and 530 metres altitude. Vineyards at this altitude represent the highest in the region producing distinct finesse, freshness, delineation of fruit and beguiling aromas; whilst the calcareous soil gives the wine a distinct minerality. The wines also have great ageing potential.
In 2003, winemaker Marco Pallanti was named “Winemaker of the Year” in Italy’s most authoritative wine guide, Gambero Rosso. Pallanti also served two terms as the president of the Consorzio del Chianti Classico, between 2006 and 2012. His experience in winemaking of over 30 years and his involvement in the protection of the Chianti Classico designation has made him one of the leading authorities on winemaking in the region, and a forebearer of Chianti Classico’s modern day renaissance in quality. Under Pallanti’s guidance, in 2005 Castello di Ama was awarded “Winery of the Year” in Gambero Rosso.
Despite being located in the heart of Chianti Classico, the estate’s most famous wine is ‘L’Apparita’ – a Super Tuscan made from 100% Merlot, grafted on to older rootstocks in the Bellavista Chianti Classico vineyard. Initially, the Merlot was planted to be used for blending in the Chianti Classico, but the results were so exceptional they decided to produce a single varietal Merlot as well. It is consistently one of the highest scoring Italian wines. Antonio Galloni recently described the 2004 L’Apparita as “simply phenomenal” and a wine that “brings together power and finesse in a way that is thrilling”.
Castello di Ama produces three separate Chianti Classico Gran Selezione cuvees: ‘Bellavista’ (described by Galloni as “an extraordinary wine by any measure”), ‘La Casuccia’ and ‘San Lorenzo’. The San Lorenzo cuvee is made every year and the 2010 was ranked sixth in the Wine Spectator’s “Best Wines of the World” list in 2014. Depending on the success of the vintage, the additional single site cuvees of Bellavista and La Cassuccia are also produced. In the vintages when the single site cuvees are not made, the wine from these sites goes into the San Lorenzo. Marco Pallanti is not afraid to experiment, producing a number of unusual blends including ‘Il Chiusa’, a Pinot Noir / Sangiovese blend, and ‘Haiku’, a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The overall style of all their wines is terroir-driven, minerally fresh and elegant.
Watch this space for soon-to-be-released back vintage Collection Cases, coming direct from the winery…