Castello di Ama

L’Apparita – Merlot – 2019


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.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

L’Apparita, the first purebred Merlot produced in Tuscany, has been an iconic wine since its initial harvest in 1985. Two parcels at the top of the Bellavista vineyard comprise the L’Apparita cru.

Vines were first planted in 1975 with Canaiolo and Malvasia Bianca, they have been replanted in 1982 with Merlot, using the clone nr 342. The open-lyre training system and predominately clay soil make this cru a crown jewel in world winemaking. Since the first vintage, this wine has maintained its unique expression in which the distinguishing features of Merlot are elevated by the terroir of Ama.

  • Exposure: North-South
  • Altitude: 1608 feet/490 meters
  • Soils: Calcareous with clay
  • Vineyard Area: 7.29 acres/2.95 Ha
  • Vineyard initially planted to Canaiolo & Malvasia Blanca in 1975; replanted to Merlot in 1982
  • Clone: Merlot NR 342
  • Vine Planting Density: 2800 plants/ha
  • Vine Training System: Open Lyre
Harvest Notes
  • 2019 began with very cold temperatures and considerable day-night diurnal swings
  • January snows gave way to a warming February
  • Early spring quite cold and rainy, limiting flowering and the numbers of clusters per vine
  • Warm and dry summer
  • Hand harvesting into 10kg crates began September 5, ended October 10
  • Fermented using only indigenous yeasts at in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks from 86–91ºF
  • Manual pumpovers
  • Fermentation for 28 days
  • Wines racked and returned to tanks for malolactic fermentation
  • Aged 14 months in 50% new, fine grained barriques, the balance in 2 year old barriques
Winemaker's Notes

Dark purple-red with violet highlights. Impenetrable. An elegant and refined nose, with aromas of black and red fruits, lavendar, mint, sage, cloves and new leather. Perfumed, layered and equisitely nuanced. The palate is extremely elegant with a rich concentration of fruit, juicy with bright acidity.

Wine Summary

100% Merlot Clone 342; alcohol: 13.5%; L’Apparita cru is 2 parcels at top of Ama’s Bellvista vineyard; vines planted 1982; soils calcareous with clay; fermented with indigenous yeasts only, 28 day cuvaison; malolactic fermentation in tank, aged in thin-grained French oak barriques 50% new, 50% 2nd passage for 14 months.

Technical Information
  • 100% Merlot
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Total Acidity: 5.23 g/l
  • Residual Sugar: < 1 g/l
  • Extract: 31 g/l


98+ Points

The 2019 L’Apparita is incredibly powerful in this vintage. Huge searing tannins wrap around a core of dark-fleshed fruit. Incense, tobacco, chocolate, mocha, lavender and spice open, but only reluctantly. Whereas most 2019s in the Ama range are quite inviting at this stage, L’Apparita is a wine for the cellar. In other words, the 2019 is a tight, backward Apparita that demands patience. 2027 – 2044

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, June, 2022

98 Points

One of the stars of Italian enology, this iconic wine is Merlot in name but Tuscan in spirit. The L’Apparita is a gorgeous wine and one that brings an enormous sense of excitement and energy to those who drink it. Its texture is soft and rich, yet the tannins are gentle and round. There is plenty of substance and structure here, however, with seamless layers of black fruit, cherry, sweet spice and tobacco. The wine’s complexity is enhanced by elegant mineral tones and a subtle, menthol-like signature. Temperature control and careful pump-overs are executed, and great care is taken during harvest to avoid any overripe berries. Cool, calcareous soils with many stones serve to insulate the roots and lock in freshness. The secret of this wine is magic of site, exposure and geology. This is another collectors’ edition of L’Apparita. 2025 – 2046

© Wine Advocate, February, 2023

97 Points

Enticing aromas of blackberries and violets with some fresh black olives. Fresh violets as well. Full-bodied and very rich and layered with velvety tannins and a long, long finish. Lingering flavors of dark chocolate in the finish. Powerful merlot here. Drink after 2026., September, 2022

95 Points

A red of great depth, with a rich, fleshy profile and black cherry, plum, mineral and spice flavors yielding to a firm, racy structure. Shows enticing fruit wed to dense tannins, which should absorb well with time. Classy. Merlot. Best from 2025 through 2042.

Wine Spectator, April, 2023

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