2016 Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco IGT Rosso Toscana
Castello dei Rampolla is located in Panzano’s famous Conca d’Oro or ‘golden basin” district, an amphitheater of striking, pristine hillside vineyards in Tuscany. The di Napoli family has owned Rampolla since 1739, and Alceo di Napoli inherited the estate in 1965. At the time, Rampolla was essentially a summer residence. Wheat, olive trees and other mixed crops were cultivated, but there were no vineyards. With the assistance of Piero Antinori amongst others, Alceo began making and bottling wines under the Rampollo label in 1975. Rampolla are now a reference point for the highest level of quality that does not fit into Chianti Classico or Brunello for Tuscany.
In 1980, Rampolla produced their first vintage of Sammarco, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. It was the early days of Italy’s infatuation with international grapes that would in turn bring a handful of wines a level of recognition and accompanying prestige that was unthinkable back then. Antinori’s first vintage of Tignanello was 1971. Solaia followed in 1978. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia did not exist yet and Sassicaia was still under the radar. It was the very beginning of an entire movement. The first Sammarcos were 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Sangiovese. Merlot was added in 2003, gradually replacing Sangiovese and giving the wine softer, more modern contours as well as greater early approachability. The Cabernet has always been aged in French oak barrels, with an increasing move towards larger 500-liter formats, while the Sangiovese sees only cask.
The 2016 Sammarco is a dense, flamboyant wine. Inky red fruit, spice, cedar, tobacco, menthol and licorice are some of the notes that build in a statuesque Sammarco that dazzles from start to finish. A wine of stunning textural richness and intensity, Sammarco is translucent, sculpted and full of character. All the elements are so well balanced. Rose petal, cedar, tobacco and mint linger on the eternal finish. The 2016 is a magical wine that can be, surprisingly, enjoyed now or cellared for a number of years. Time in the glass just brings out its energy and vertical drive. Sammarco is quite possibly the single greatest value in high-end Italian wine. Don't miss it. Drink 2026 - 2046.
Antonio Galloni - Vinous
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, the Castello dei Rampolla 2016 Sammarco was held back for an extra year of aging before its commercial release. In fact, I already reviewed the 2017 vintage last year because that wine is many times more accessible and immediate than this one. The issue at hand are the tannins, which remain very tight and grippy in this bottle. That extra year in bottle has helped them to integrate, but this wine still has a very long way to go. Keep that in mind if you collect Sammarco. Despite that slight astringency, this is a wine of courage and vision. It shows expertly measured fruit weight and lots of lively intensity on the bouquet. Drink 2024 - 2045.
Monica Larner - Wine Advocate (Oct 2021)
Plenty of currant and blackberry with some coffee and toasted oak on the nose. It’s full-bodied with a dense palate and round, polished tannins that fold nicely into this young wine. It’s very drinkable, even though it’s structured and so serious. Cool in the end, Cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and merlot. Unfiltered. This will age beautifully. Drink after 2023, but a beauty already.