Castello dei Rampolla

Italy Tuscany Panzano in Chianti

Castello dei Rampolla sits dreamlike on a prime hilltop in the heart of Chianti Classico’s Conca d’Oro valley.

Rampolla is one of Tuscany’s most intriguingly unconventional estates—farming biodynamically long before it was fashionable and experimenting with everything from grape varieties to sulfite-free winemaking to wine amphorae made with an ancient material.

The farm and its 300 acres—nearly 80 now under vine—came into the noble di Napoli family as a wedding dowry in 1739. For more than 220 years, it was farmed by sharecroppers producing wine, wheat, livestock and more.

Alceo di Napoli Rampolla, who studied agriculture and inherited the farm (known as Santa Lucia in Faulle) from his father in 1965, turned the land tenants into salaried workers and planted vineyards with a classic Chianti blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and the white varieties Malvasia and Trebbiano that were still permitted at the time.

With the 1975 vintage, Alceo began bottling estate Chianti Classico. Then in 1978, he visited Bordeaux’s Château Lafite Rothschild—and set the stage for his future. Di Napoli discreetly purloined fresh Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings, smuggled them home in a suitcase and began propagating them.

Encouraging him was his friend and enologist Giacomo Tachis, the winemaker behind super Tuscan legends Sassicaia, Solaia and Tignanello, who worked with Rampolla until his death in 2016.

The di Napolis, who rarely use tractors to turn vineyard soils, treat their vines with an array of “teas,” from algae to propolis (a resinous, antifungal substance made by honey bees), along with sulfur and copper to fight mildew.

Yet though they are members of the winegrowers association for Panzano, Italy’s first organic zone for wine, they refuse to be certified as organic or biodynamic.

Wine available

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