The brother and sister team of Luca and Maurizia Rampolla are shepherding the proud Chianti Classico estate of Castello dei Rampolla back in time – but into the future!
Set among scrub forests, imposing trees, and meandering brooks, the Castello dei Rampolla estate sprawls over 120 hectares; but neatly tucked away amidst the natural growth are the 30 biodynamic hectares that produce some of the best grapes in Tuscany.
In 1995, the estate underwent a conversion to become wholly biodynamic. The vegetative growth between the rows of vines is left untouched. Stones, sand, weeds, worms, bees and insects all live naturally. There are no pesticides employed, no fetilization done, no watering. Luca quips, “no one fertilizes the Amazon forest, so we let nature work it’s will here too.” Worms encourage water absorbtion, bees pollinate, frogs and newts eat the insects, and nature works it’s magic.
The winemaking too is a nod to the past. Gone are the stainless steel vats. Instead Luca employs enameled iron and cement vats. Completely inert. While some of the wines are aged in French barrique, Rampolla is also employing large terra cotta vats as an additional manner to “return to the practices of the past”. The results are impressive.
The Sammarco is arguably the flagship wine of the estate. Although the blend changes slightly depending upon the vintage, essentially this is a Cabernet with Sangiovese added. In the case of the 1997, 85% Cabernet and 15% Sangiovese.
The wine was decanted 60 minutes to allow the aromas to open and to remove the wine from a substantial sediment. The color is still deep purple with black tones. It’s hard to imagine this is nearly 17 years old. The aromas are nothing short of harmonius. Black fruits, leather, espresso, minerals, flowers, herbs and tobacco are seamlessly woven together in a glorious package. On the palate the wine stops you. It makes you think – focus – remember how great the weather was in 1997. This has a huge core of graceful black fruits penetrated with fennel dust, roasted coffee, cedar, spicy berry and fresh leather and earth. It’s miraculous and screams Panzano. It’s difficult to reduce to words, rather simply, this is a wine of class, breeding, stature and meditation that must be experienced. Current vintages are very reasonably priced given where this wine belongs within the Tuscan heirarchy. Put some in your cellar. 97 points, about $60 upon release.
|~ 1997 Sammarco ~|
April 2, 2014