Many of Italy’s greatest wine producers have histories that stretch back hundreds of years, right into the early days of the Italian wine industry. Some have been so critical to the development of the country that they have played pivotal roles in the politics that surrounded Italy, particularly in the period where the country had yet to united and the many regions that made up Italy as it is known today were independent of each other and often engaged in battles for territory.
Others have histories that are no less extensive, but are perhaps not as involved in the lore that surrounds the wine industry as others. That is the position that Castello Dei Rampolla takes in the modern wine industry, so let’s take a look at the company and what it has contributed to the Italian wine industry that makes it deserving of the spotlight the Xtrawine blog hopes to shine on it.
The story of Castello Dei Rampolla actually stretches all the way back to 1739, when the estates that now make up the company’s winery were farmlands owned by the family. Over the course of more than 200 years, Castello Dei Rampolla was renowned for creating great produce, including grapes that were used in the creation of amazing wines to come from the region of Tuscany, which many of you may know as being most famous for being the region where Chianti is produced.
Enormous amounts of history has passed over the lands owned by the family since then, but one constant is the care that they have been given since those early days. It was in the 1960s when a man with a simple dream chose to focus specifically on wine production above all else.
Alceo di Napoli Rampolla’s aim was simple and elegant. He simply wanted to create a truly great wine for which he, his land and Tuscany as a whole would be remembered.
His quest was by no means a short one. Though he started his project in the mid-1960s, it was not until 1975 that Castello Dei Rampolla finally released its Chianti Classico on the world. While the wine was of a quality that would make any producer proud, it suffered from the bad timing of being released during a period where Chianti Classico was struggling to maintain the reputation it had held for so many years. The introduction of the Super Tuscans a few years later made the climate even less favourable for the wine and Alceo began to put serious thought into what he could do for his wines to gain the recognition they deserved.
It was during this difficult time that he had the idea to work alongside the great winemaker Giacomo Tachis to become the very first person in the entire region to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and blend it with his Sangiovese to create completely different wines. This innovation was the first of the many Castello Dei Rampolla and you will now find that many of the company’s products make heavy use of this grape, including the one that we will be featuring a little later on.
The story is one where triumph over adversity comes from the fact that Castello Dei Rampolla and the people behind it were willing to take the risks necessary to establish names for themselves in the Italian wine industry. When their first efforts struggled to get off the ground, the company was able to adapt to a tumultuous wine climate to create a product that appealed to a large spectrum of people, from those who still appreciated the traditions and culture attached to the Italian wine industry, through to those who wanted to see something new.
This penchant for innovation has been combined with the various philosophies that have ensured the company has endured over the years. Amongst these it the great respect that the team at Castello Dei Rampolla have for their land. It is this respect that has allowed the land to be tended for as long as it has and everything the company does, from basic farming through to the newest innovations, is done with the protection of the land that has given them so much in mind.
The team accomplishes this by paying close attention to the soil and the land itself. Their aim it to help the land become self-sufficient by offering it everything it needs to nourish itself, without falling back on some of the stalwarts of wine production, such as fertilisers.
The health of the land is reflected in the amazing wines that Castello Dei Rampolla produces, which are also improved on a yearly basis due to the company’s commitment to continued research into winemaking techniques. This is not a company that is content with standing still. Over the years Castello Dei Rampolla has been notable both for planting vines that may have been considered unusual for their time, as highlighted previously and, in more recent times, introducing the first wine to ever be produced that was completely free of sulphites.
With all of that being said, let’s now take a look at one of the most impressive wines to emerge from the company in recent years.
Perhaps the thing that is most noticeable about the Castello dei Rampolla Vigna d’Alceo 2011 straight off the bat is the somewhat strange description of its colouring. Pigeon-blood ruby may not sound like the most appetising description in the world, but it is accurate in terms of the complexion of the wine and the ruby colouring shows that this is a wine that has been matured to the perfect point.
The innovation that Castello Dei Rampolla has become so renowned for is notably from the moment you introduce the wine to the nose. A playful scent that combines black fruits and dark spices with hints of undergrowth, flowers and roots, the aroma is one that hides true complexity that runs the gamut in terms of the olfactory spectrum, enticing you to partake in a sip or two.
Those who so will not be disappointed. The wine is exquisitely balanced and features vibrant tannins that are complemented by an enjoyable persistence that will leave the memory of the wine lingering on the tongue for a long time to come.