Castello di Ama

L’Apparita – Merlot – 2017


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 7.29 acres/2.95  ha

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

This beautiful wine, the first thoroughbred Merlot made in Tuscany, is from two parcels at the top of the Bellavista vineyard. They comprise the L’Apparita cru. The predominantly clay soils and open-lyre training system make this cru the crown jewel in world winemaking. Distinguishing features of Merlot, elevated by the terrior of Ama.

  • Soils: Calcareous with clay
  • Exposure: North-South
  • Altitude: 1608 feet/490 meters
  • Vineyard initially planted to Canaiolo & Malvasia Blanca in 1975; replanted to Merlot in 1982
  • Clone: Merlot NR 342
  • Panting Density:  2800 plants/ha
  • Vine Training System: Open-Lyre


Harvest Notes
  • Cold, rainy beginning to 2017
  • March temperatures rose, exceeding seasonal average
  • April 21st, a severe frost halted phenological development of vines
  • May and June very hot, until June 28th rain
  • August continued quite hot, 104ºF maximum & 79ºF minimum
  • September 10 brought heavy rains, which ushered in the coldest September in 15 years
  • After several analysis and samplings, grapes hand harvested into 10-12 kg crates
  • Vinified using ambient yeasts only at controlled temperatures 86-91ºF
  • Manual pumpovers during 28 day cuvaison
  • Wine racked and transferred to stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation
  • After ML, wine transferred to oak barriques of fine grain; 50% new, 50% 2nd passage, for 14 months
Winemaker's Notes

Purple red color with violet nuances. Impenetrable. The aromas are intense and exotic with blackberry, blueberry, violet and walnut aromas that follow through to a full body with layers of ripe tannins and a beautiful finish of polished, well poised fruit. Taste the extra density. Rich concentration of the fruit on the palate, succulent and firm.

Wine Summary

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

Technical Information
  •  100% Merlot, clone NR 342
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • TA: 5.25 g/l
  • RS: <1 g/l
  • Dry extract: 32.2 m/l


96+ Points

The 2017 L’Apparita, Ama’s 100% Merlot, is silky, polished and exceptionally beautiful. In 2017, L’Apparita is restrained and elegant more than it is powerful. I have seen L’Apparita blossom with a few years in bottle. I imagine it will be the case here too. Today, L’Apparita is decidedly nuanced and elegant.

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, September, 2020

96 Points

I am immediately struck by the power and concentration of the Castello di Ama 2017 L’Apparita. This is an exuberant and gregarious expression of Merlot that has absorbed every last sunbeam of the hot summer season. On the nose, the wine shows beautiful fullness and generosity that spills richly across the senses. Blackberry syrup and cherry liqueur are followed by smoke, tar, toast and sweet chewing tobacco. You taste that extra density in a similar manner, and the rich concentration of the fruit has consequently shaped a more apparent tannin and a little snap of astringency on the close. My sample bottle does not show a reading of the wine’s alcoholic content, but you feel some heat as well. This edition of L’Apparita is extra dark, succulent and firm. When the wine has been given another five to ten years of cellar age, then I’d suggest guinea fowl or one of those delicious roasted pigeon dishes you find in Tuscany. Some 7,300 bottles were made.

© Wine Advocate, May, 2020

97 Points

Intense and exotic on the nose with blackberry, blueberry, violet and walnut aromas that follow through to a full body with layers of ripe tannins and a beautiful finish of polished and well poised fruit. It goes on and on. I am impressed by the freshness here, as well as the intensity for the vintage. Drink in 2023 and onwards, but a joy to taste now., July, 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