Castello di Ama

L’Apparita – Merlot – 2016


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

Wine Blend Vine Age Soil Type Vineyard Area ha or acres
L’Apparita 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 of 1608 feet/490 metres. 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 acres
  • Soil composition:  Calcareous with clay
  • Training method:  Open lyre
  • Elevation:  1608 feet/490 meters
  • Vines/acre:  2,800
  • Exposure:  North – South
  • Clone Selection:  342
  • Year vineyards planted:  1982 – 1985
Harvest Notes

Winter was mild and rainy. In April, temperatures raised rapidly, while May and June were very unstable. Summer arrived in July and there were great temperature excursions between night and day, which helped to develop aromas and flavours in the wine. Although we had hail at the end of August, grapes were very healthy.

  • Harvest date: 9/15/2015
  • Vinified with ambient yeasts in steel tanks at controlled temperature 86/89°F
  • Manual pumpovers for 28 day total cuvaison
  • Wine transferred to steel tanks for malolactic fermentation
  •  Aging: 35% new thin-grain oak barriques, 65% second-passage barriques
Winemaker's Notes

Purple red color with violet nuances. Impenetrable. Aroma: red fruits, blackberry. Spices such as vanilla, black pepper in grains and juniper. The finish has a balsamic note. The taste is extremely elegant, smooth and enveloping, with a silky yet powerful tannin. Clearly fresh, very persistent, never ending.

Wine Summary

100% Merlot Clone 342; Alcohol: 13.5%; vine age – average 32 years; soils calcareous with clay; with fermented with indigenous yeasts only, aged in thin-grained French oak barriques 35% new, 65% once used for 18 months.

Technical Information
  •  100% Merlot
  •  Alcohol: 13.5%
  • TA: 5 g/L
  • RS: <1 g/L
  • Dry extract: 31.4 m/L


100 Points

The 2016 L’Apparita, 100% Merlot, is a breathtaking, riveting wine that captures all the potential of the vintage. In this vintage, L’Apparita is especially silky and refined. Layered, perfumed and wonderfully nuanced, L’Apparita is simply epic. Lavender, mint, sage, spice, new leather and cloves develop with time, but more than anything else, L’Apparita is wonderfully complete and magnificently beautiful. 2024 – 2046

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, August, 2019

99 Points

The 2016 L’Apparita is a standout wine. A true symbol of the vintage, the wine shows the classic lines and extreme precision we can expect from 2016, with the plump, ripe generosity of the Merlot grape (when farmed in the right hands of course). The wine is profound, rich and beautifully concentrated with power but no residual heaviness. I went back to this sample a few times in the 12 hours after I popped the cork, and the wine was more beautiful each time. It offers a profound sense of beauty, harmony and Merlot purity now, and it should evolve slowly and softly in the coming years.

© Wine Advocate, September, 2019

94 Points

Ripe and intense, exuding plum, black cherry, olive and tobacco flavors. Succulent and stays long on the finish, even as the firm, dense tannins flex their muscles. Best from 2022 through 2032. 670 cases made, 60 cases imported.

Wine Spectator, February, 2020

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