Castello di Ama

L’Apparita – Merlot – 2015


Castello di Ama

Castello di Ama was founded in 1976, and is located in Gaiole in Chianti, within the additional geographical unit of the same name (UGA), located in the heart of Tuscany. It is located about 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 estate is currently helmed by CEO Lorenza Sebasti, a member of the second generation of one of the four founding families. Marco Pallanti, who was once the President of the Chianti Classico Consorzio, has been the winemaker and technical director at Castello di Ama since 1982.

The goal of the estate is to have each bottle of Castello di Ama express the uniqueness of the terroir, and be an authentic expression of the vintage. Ama has practiced sustainable viticulture since the end of the 1990s, and recently received Equalitas (Italy) certification.

Grapes / Soils

Merlot Planted 1982, 1985 Calcareous with clay 9.49 acres/3.84 ha

The Wine

Vineyard Profile
  • L’Apparita was Tuscany’s first pure Merlot and has been a cult wine since its very first vintage, in 1985.
  • The small parcels that make up the 9.49 acres/3.84 hectares of the L’Apparita vineyard are set atop the Vigneto Bellavista hill, at an altitude 1608 ffet/490 metres asl. In 1975 they were planted with Canaiolo and Malvasia Bianca, then grafted over with Merlot clone 342 between 1982 and 1985.
  • The vines are trained as open lyre and the soil is clay rich, making this tiny cru a jewel of the international wine production.
  • Size of vineyard: 9.49 acres/ 3.84 hectares
  • Soil composition:  Calcareous with clay
  • Training method:  Open lyre
  • Elevation:  1608 feet above sea level
  • Vines/acre:  2,800
  • Exposure:  North – South
  • Clone Selection:  342
  • Year vineyard planted:  1982 – 1985
Harvest Notes

Wine from vintage 2015 are fresh, with a nice alcohol degree and fruity, due to the significant temperature excursions between night and day during autumn which facilitated the aromatic structures.  Summer started late and first veraison was in early August.  Until mid-September there were sunny days and summer heat, then temperatures dropped again, especially at night.  After several samples and and organoleptic analysis in our vineyards and laboratory, harvest has been carried out by hand in 10-12 kg crates on September 14th.

The vinification started using ambient yeasts, in steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 86/89°F, with manual pumpovers and a total cuvaison of 26 days.  After the first racking, the wine was transferred into steel tanks for the malolactic fermentation.

After the malolactic fermentation, the wine has been transferred in oak barriques of thin grain, 35% of which were new and the rest were second-passage barriques.  This wine was bottled in July 2017.

Winemaker's Notes
  • Color: purple red with violet nuances.  Impenetrable.
  • Aroma: red fruits, blackberry.  Spicy such as vanilla, black pepper in grains and juniper.  The finish has a balsamic note.
  • Taste: extremely elegant, smooth and enveloping, with a silky yet powerful tannin.  Clearly fresh, very persistent, never ending.
Wine Summary
  • Made from Merlot grapes.
  • Vine age – planted 1982, 1985.
  • Soils – calcareous with clay
  • Fermented in stainless steel and barriques.
  • Aged in 35% new and the rest second passage barriques.
Technical Information
  • Varietal composition:  100% Merlot
  • Alcohol:  13.0%
  • Residual sugar:  <1 g/L
  • Acidity:  5.24 g/L
  • Dry extract:  31.7 g/L


96 Points

Aromas of black olives and violets with black fruits following through to a full body with firm and silky tannins. An intense finish. Shows linear yet strong tannins. 100% Merlot. Drink in 2020., September, 2018

94 Points

A burst of cherry, plum and berry aromas and flavors is accompanied by a vibrant, uplifting structure.  Firms up quickly, yet the intense fruit flavors persist and return on the lingering, tobacco- and underbrush-tinged finish.  Excellent potential.  Merlot.  Best from 2022 through 2035.  25 cases imported.

Wine Spectator, October, 2018

96 Points

It’s impossible not to be completely smitten by the 2015 L’Apparita.  This pure expression of Merlot from Chianti Classico is an exceedingly smooth and enriched expression with abundant tones of black cherry, spice, chocolate and barbecue smoke.  The mouthfeel is gorgeous, and although this wine is not as extracted or dense as past editions, it is far more finessed and elegant.  You get a clear taste not only of the grape but of the gravely soils that make up this extraordinary territory.  What could be better than Merlot and Tuscany blended together in a single bottle?

© Wine Advocate, October, 2018

General Info

Country Italy
Region Tuscany
Appellation(s) Chianti Classico
Proprietor/CEO Lorenza Sebasti
Founded 1974
Winemaker Marco Pallanti
Annual Production 25,000 9L cases
Farming (Sustainable, organic, biodynamic) Sustainable certified by Equalitas Italy