“The liveliness of earth; crossed by humans…..”
It’s been a while since I’ve visited Castello dei Rampolla and written about Sammarco. The estate, the family, indeed the environment there are in a sort of backwards transcendence. Why? Because the team of Luca and Maurizia di Napoli are virtually ignoring modern winemaking principles. Their goal, only nature makes wine.
The quote above is taken from the Rampolla website and provides insight into the producers mindset. From vineyard, to pressing, to aging – almost nothing is interjected by man. Mother Nature is in control at Rampolla. From start to finish. And maybe for better or worse.
Since 1995, Castello dei Rampolla has been completely biodynamic. These principles are strictly followed. Vegetative growth between the rows of vines are left untouched. Stones, sand, weeds, worms, wild flowers, bees and insects all live naturally. There are no pesticides employed. No fertilization done. No watering.
Luca quips, “no one fertilizes the Amazon forest, so we let nature work it’s will here too.” Worms encourage water absorption; bees pollinate; frogs and newts eat insects, and nature works it’s magic.
The winemaking is also nod to the past. Gone are the stainless steel vats. Instead Luca employs enameled iron and cement vats. As a result, the wines are completely unadulterated. “We don’t want anything impacting the wine until we put it into barrel.” But, even barrels are slowly going away at Rampolla and the di Napoli’s are focusing more on clay vessels and smaller amphora. This writer isn’t completely sold on the “nature or bust” mentality. After all, there are reasons why thousands of winemakers the world over have moved beyond the manner in which wine was made centuries ago.
But Rampolla soldiers on. And thus far, it’s hard to argue with the results.
The 2016 Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco is a deep violet color; almost opaque. Aromas of blackberry, tobacco, menthol, spice and leather mingle nicely on the nose of this mostly Cabernet wine. Gorgeous mouthfeel. Viscous, silky and fresh. Wow! Black fruits mark the palate with tobacco, hints of fresh herb and coffee grind. Wet stones too. Long black plum driven finish. Tannins clamp down on the back end but this is delicious. Decant and drink now or cellar for a decade. It’s not Solaia, but it’s not $300 either. 95 points. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
Is this sort of ultra-minimalist winemaking for you? Let’s hear what you think in the comments.