2017 Castello dei Rampolla d'Alceo 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.
Alceo di Napoli dreamt of planting high-density vineyards with Bordeaux varieties, something that was unheard of in Chianti Classico at the time. In 1988, di Napoli started clearing the land, which at the time was planted with olive trees and housed the property’s stables. Importantly, this land had never been farmed for grapes before, so it was virgin land. The first terraces were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon in 1990. Petit Verdot followed in 1991 and 1992. Sadly, Alceo di Napoli passed away in 1991, but his children Luca and Maurizia stepped-in to run the family estate. In 1994, Rampolla converted to biodynamic farming, the d’Alceo plots have essentially been farmed biodynamically since the beginning, as they had no real previous history to speak of, nor conventional farming regime from which to adjust. Today, d’Alceo is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot. The first vintages spent about 18 months in French oak barrels. Since 2007, d’Alceo spends 10-12 months in barrel, with only 10-15% new barrels, a decision Rampolla took to preserve more freshness and reduce the flavor impact of oak.
The 2017 D'Alceo possesses mind-blowing intensity and pedigree to burn. Rich, ample and explosive, the 2017 is magnificently impressive right out of the gate. Lavender, rose petal, spice, kirsch, mint and violet lead into a core of inky dark blue/purplish berry fruit. Soft contours and suave, silky tannins give the 2017 so much immediacy, but there is plenty of cellaring potential too. In a word: epic. Drink 2027 - 2047.
Antonio Galloni - Vinous
It's not easy to wrap your head around the Castello dei Rampolla 2017 d'Alceo. The wine is exaggerated on almost every front, including its powerful tannins, shaped by a scorching hot and dry vintage that produced super concentrated fruit. I can't say that this vintage is my style or that it delivers the extreme elegance and finesse that this estate at the heart of Panzano, one of the greatest growing sites in Italy, is capable of. However, there is a lot to be said about this blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Petit Verdot. The wine opens to an almost impenetrable appearance with inky black hues and unruly intensity. The power of the bouquet is driven by the ripeness of the fruit and perhaps a positive pinch of volatile acidity (just the right amount for emphasis) that adds extra lift and punch to the overall effect. Syrupy blackberry segues to smoky tar and resin. We saw impactful tannins in the 2016 Sammarco, but the 2017 d'Alceo takes that astringency one step further. The 2017 will sure take many years to reach harmony, although I suspect that the tannic imprint is here to stay. Drink 2025 - 2045.
Monica Larner - Wine Advocate (Oct 2021)