Castello di Ama

L’Apparita – Merlot – 2020


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 pure 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
  • 1st quarter of 2020 without winter – clear, sunny days and no snow
  • March brought lower temperatures and slowed growth
  • Warmth of summer and soil moisture led to good maturation
  • End August rain and September cool nights and warm days created good ripening and aromatic development
  • Hand harvesting began in early-mid September, into 10kg crates
  • Fermented using only indigenous yeasts at in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks from 86–91ºF
  • Manual pumpovers
  • Fermentation for 28 days using only indigenous yeasts
  • 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

Red-purple in the glass: impenetrable. A refined and elegant nose. Aromas of red and black fruits, violet and nuts. Extremely elegant with rich concentration, juicy and bright acidity. A beautifully long finish, wonderfully nuanced.

Wine Summary

100% Merlot Clone 342; alcohol: 14.5%; 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: 14.5%
  • Total Acidity: 5.43 g/l
  • Residual Sugars: < 1 g/l
  • Extract: 34.9 mg/l


99 Points

The 2020 L’Apparita will soon take its place among the great Apparitas. Unctuous and layered in the glass, the 2020 possesses exceptional balance and tons of character right out of the gate. Exotic scents of blackberry jam, chocolate, new leather, licorice and smoke are so alluring. Imposing tannins need time to soften, but once that happens readers will be treated to a spectacular Apparita that captures all the best the vintage had to offer. Marco Pallanti waited until mid-September (late for the year) to bring in this fruit. That decision paid off handsomely. 2027 – 2045

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, June, 2023

97 Points

Beautiful focus with sage and rosemary to the plum and chocolate character. Some green olives, too. Medium-bodied with ultra-fine tannins that caress the palate. Just hints of vanilla and dried flowers to the fruit. Pretty texture and length to the wine at the end. Drinkable but better in 2027., June, 2023

95 Points

A viscous, salted licorice–tinged red, with plum, earth and spice flavors. Reveals a solid grip of tannins lining the finish, leaving a compact feeling today. Concentrated, powerful and complex, just needs time to come together. Merlot. Best from 2026 through 2042.

Wine Spectator, November, 2023

95 Points

The 2020 L’Apparita opens to a midnight black color and an impenetrable appearance. This Merlot set the benchmark for the grape in Tuscany and continues to do so today, despite the various challenges to an early-ripening variety facing climate change. The 2020 vintage remains rich and opulent, even heavy on the mid-palate, with lots of thick fruit layering and soft tannins. It ends with sweet fruit and barbecue spice. 2024 – 2040

© Wine Advocate, May, 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