2017 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico
We’re at the end of a country road, at the top of a bucolic hill, where Castello dei Rampolla looks over the heart of the Conca d’Oro Valley in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. “I couldn’t live anywhere else or do anything else,” says Maurizia di Napoli, the winemaker and co-owner of Castello dei Rampolla. But as idyllic as the estate is, as true as its winemaking practices are, and for all the nobility of its history, a glass of Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico with grilled steak or a wedge of aged cheese says all you need to know about the glory of this wine and its pedigree. And it all begins with a story:
Castello dei Rampolla is made up of old stone buildings — a chapel, a water tower, and farm houses — which date back to the 1300s. The buildings, the farm, and their pastoral 300 acres look like pictures out of Medieval and Renaissance storybooks. In 1739, as part of a wedding dowry, they came into the di Napoli family. And in 1965, Alceo di Napoli Rampolla, a young agriculture student, inherited the farm from his father. Ten years later, Alceo began bottling Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico.
For the past 26 years, Maurizia and her older brother Luca have been i padroni of Castello dei Rampolla. In their youths, Maurizia and Luca followed the teachings of a progressive priest and author, Giovanni Vannucci, who was assigned to a small agricultural hermitage in Chianti. Vannucci preached harmony with nature and often cited Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture. “The message of clean agriculture and another way to understand the universe was a seed that grew inside us,” Maurizia says. “Luca and I knew what we were going to do to let that seed grow.”
The result is an object of natural beauty. Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico is comprised of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. (Alceo stole the cuttings of the Cabernet from a visit to Château Lafite Rothschild in 1978!) The wine is a bright ruby red, with an intense bouquet of cherry, rose petal, and orange peel. Its palate is supple, complex, and refined, with flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and forest floor. And its structure seamlessly integrates the wine’s fruit with its tannin and acidity.
You can drink this tonight. You can drink it all summer long. You can drink it for the next 15 years! With antipasti and grilled vegetables, with pasta or risotto, with pork or steak, and with any cow or sheep’s milk cheese you like. We can’t go to Tuscany for a while, but we can celebrate life with this!
“The nose of this Chianti Classico is unique, with abundant fresh rose petals, orange zest and lemon peel. Medium-bodied and very lithe yet firm on the palate. Elegant and very taut and tangy on the finish. So well done in a challenging vintage.” – James Suckling