2015 James Suckling Top 100: #86
"Compared to 2010, the 2011 L'Apparita (100% Merlot) is a very different wine. It's impossible to imagine how Castello di Ama could improve on the utterly divine and delicious 2010, but I liked 2011 even more. Again, I just feel that this estate with its vineyards that reach beyond 500 meters in altitude performs best with warm vintages such as this one. Those who love Castello di Ama's wines will have to wait until the 2013 vintage is released. This is a gorgeous wine that sings in a loud and graceful voice. That extra cherry softness of Merlot has been pulled back to a perfect point. The wine offers layers of richness and suppleness. The effects are layered, complex and absolutely engaging. This is a standout wine.
The big news from Castello di Ama this year is that owner Marco Pallanti and his team decided to completely forgo all wines from the difficult 2012 vintage. That year caused particular hardship on Castello di Ama because of its location at one of the highest points in the Gaiole-in-Chianti sub zone. Sangiovese grapes were not able to reach full ripeness during a year that saw uneven spells of heat and cool temperatures throughout the growing season. Castello di Ama farms 75 hectares of vines that span throughout four small valleys. The vines are planted between 470 and 520 meters above sea level with clay and calcareous limestone soils. During my visit, I sampled the three single-vineyard wines that have been upgraded to Gran Selezione status: The 2011 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione San Lorenzo; the 2011 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigneto La Casuccia; and the 2011 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigneto Bellavista. Because I had the opportunity to taste those same wines last year, I wanted to avoid scoring them twice and causing confusion in our database. I will say that the 2011 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione San Lorenzo has fleshed out further since I first tasted it last year and definitely merits a second look. The Bellavista and La Casuccia expressions have only been made seven times in the estate's history, including some of my favorite vintages: 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2011. All these top wines were made in 2013 and I can't wait to taste them. The good news from this estate is that a new restaurant has been added to the property. Elegant dining room windows and a beautiful terrace overlook some of the most beautiful vineyard vistas in Chianti Classico. If you are visiting this area, I enthusiastically recommend Castello di Ama for a leisurely lunch break among the vines.
"The 2011 L'Apparita is magnificent, but it will take the better part of the next decade to show the full breadth of its pedigree. Dark and sumptuous in personality, the 2011 is incredibly youthful at this stage, with very little in the way of aromatic development. That will come in time. there is something unmistakably exotic to the 2011 that is likely to always remain a part of its DNA. Not surprisingly, of the three flagships, the Apparita is the most marked by the personality of the year." (VM)
"A deep and beautiful red with ripe berry, plum and orange peel character. Almost exotic in style. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a caressing texture. Goes on for minutes. So beautiful now but will be event better in 2018. Greatest L'Apparita ever?" (JS)
Castello di Ama sits 12 miles northeast of Siena in the hills of Gaiole. This is the heart of Chianti Classico, a bucolic rolling landscape of woods, vineyards and olive groves. The property is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti. Over the last quarter century they have replanted all of the vineyards and upgraded all of the winemaking capabilities to make this one of Tuscany’s showcase producers.