Great wines have been made around the village of Ama for centuries, but the Castello di Ama winery was only founded in the 1970s by a group of local families who were keen to revive the area’s vinous fortunes. Over the years they developed a significant range of Chianti wines – including several single vineyard wines that became part of the Gran Selezione classification – plus some IGTs including a Pinot Nero and a Chardonnay.
However, a significant milestone was in 2010 when parts of each of the four vineyards were planted with new, high quality clones of Sangiovese. As Sangiovese is prone to mutate quicker than many varieties (as in the case with Pinot Noir), a co-ordinated project within the Chianti Classico region was launched to improve the genetic material in the vineyards. Of course, this cannot be done in a single go without huge quality and cashflow issues so it is done piecemeal. Once the new vines were old enough to bear good grapes they were harvested and blended into a new cuvée, simply known as “Ama”.
Vineyard Technical Data (from website):
- Total vineyard area: 80 hectares (198 acres)
- Vineyard names: Bellavista, Casuccia, San Lorenzo and Montebuoni
- Exposure: North-West, South-East
- Soil: clay and calcareous
- Altitude: 460-525 metres above sea level.
- Training system: vertical trellis with single Guyot
- Vine density: 5,200 vines/ha
- Clone selections (for “Ama”): Sangiovese: CC2000, CC2004, AGRI45; Merlot: 343; Rootstock: 420
Castello di Ama “Ama” Chianti Classico 2015 (12.5%, RRP €32.95 at Karwig Wines and Mitchell & Son)
For me there is a lot of ordinary Chianti around (although this could be said for many well-known regions) and the wines can be quite thin and tannic without any fruit to counterbalance. Despite 2015 being a warm and excellent year, the indicated alcohol of Ama is only 12.5%, which is a touch lighter than I would have expected both before and after tasting it.
Wine Technical Data (assembled from website):
- Blend: 96% Sangiovese, 4% Merlot
- 2015 Harvest dates: 22nd September (Merlot), 5th to 8th October (Sangiovese)
- Yeasts: Ambient yeasts
- Fermentation time: 25 days (varieties fermented separately)
- Malolactic fermentation: Yes, in stainless steel tanks
- Maturation: After blending, in second-use tight-grained oak casks
- Bottled: January 2017
This is a smooth, quite powerful and spicy wine which is recognisably Sangiovesi and recognisably Chianti but is quite self-assured. To have these results from such young vines is a testament to the plan of using new clones, the potential of the site and very accomplished wine-making. After being disappointed too often this has renewed my love of Chianti!