2011 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Chianti Classico. After tasting this I regret having waited so long. I also regret that I did not buy more of this. It was my last bottle and I’m already upset at the realization that I may not be able to drink this wine again. Yes, it’s that good.

Rampolla has been owned by the di Napoli family since 1739. For most of that time wheat, olives and other crops were sharecropped. In 1965 Alceo di Napoli inherited the land and set out to produce wines worthy of the land located in the valley of the ‘Conca d’Oro’ just south of Panzano in Chianti. He planted vineyards and sold some of those first grapes to the likes of Piero Antinori. It would not be until 1975 that he made and bottled his first wines. The estate is now run by his son and daughter Luca and Maurizia after passing away unexpectedly in 1991.

This area, the Conca d’Oro or Golden Basin or Valley, has been historically significant since the middle ages. The valley has a perfect southern exposure making the growing of wheat here special (the valley gets its’ name from the golden wheat fields). So much so that the cities of Florence and Siena were both vying for this land situated in the middle of Chianti. Today, that wheat has been replaced by grapes and this part of Chianti Classico is one of the most exciting areas of the appellation. This is hot bed of organic and biodynamic producers as the conditions are nearly ideal. The producers are very conscious of the fact that they are doing something special in this area of Tuscany. Not only are the exposures almost perfect throughout the basin but the soils are perfectly matched to the Sangiovese grape.

This is drinking well right now with dark red and black fruits wrapped up in an elegant package. The tannins have had time to mellow and the bright acidity keeps everything fresh. There is a touch of smoke, earth, tobacco leaf and just a hint of that Sangiovese barnyard funk (I mean that in a good way). The addition of small amounts of Cabernet and Merlot help this out by adding some complexity. Perfect with Bistecca Fiorentina.

If you can find this buy as much as you can. At $34 it’s not inexpensive but worth every penny.

Author: Kevin Cleary

I’m the author of Let’s Talk Wine and Food as well as the owner/educator of The Vermont Wine School, northern New England’s Premiere source for wine education. I hold the Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. I am also a French Wine Scholar and have master level certifications in Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence. When I am not tasting, drinking, reading or writing about wine you can find me on the golf course.

14 thoughts on “2011 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico”

  1. With several California Sangioveses in the cellar, it might just be time to find a chiante Classico and do a side by side! While I have plenty of ideas for Chiante pairings, did you have something specific that you felt this wine longed to be paired with?

    1. Robin,
      The perfect pairing would be the famous Bistecca Fiorentina (a thick cut Porterhouse, grilled, rare) beans ala fiasco, some greens and plenty of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, preferably from the estate itself. If you ever find yourself in Chianti a trip to Panzano is warranted. Pick up a bottle of Rampolla’s Chianti Classico and head over to Dario Cecchini’s Soloccia restaurant. It’s a 7-course feast of meat for only 30 euro! And you can bring your own wine. This is almost unheard of in Italy.

  2. The last Chianti Classico I had that blew me away was the Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva, which had a lot of strawberry and cherry components. This one sounds equally delicious!

    1. Jessie,
      You should! Chianti is so underrated. The wines have gotten so much better in the last couple of decades. The Consorzio is really committed to improving the image and quality of the wines.

  3. Love this wine! I was at an enoteca in Chianti this past summer and they had Rampolla available. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the year I tried, but I had this down as one of may favorite Chiantis.

  4. Great writeup from a region I’m not as familiar as I’d like to be! I actually had no idea this region of Chianti has biodynamic / organic notions but after thinking about that for a minute — that’s the way it used to be so I’m not surprised. Sounds like a area for aging some quality Sangiovese!


    1. Greig,
      Thanks for the comment. In doing some research I found that this particular part of Chianti is super-committed to organics and biodynamics. I think 95% are certified and more are on the way. It must be nice to know that your neighbors are certified after you’ve gone through the trouble as well.

  5. I recently bought a bottle of Chianti, not Classico much less Reserva, for under $10. I would not have bought it, but amazingly in carried a DOCG certification so I decided to try it for curiosity. On tasting, it was not good at all. This makes me distrust all of these certifications. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Jim,
      I’m sorry to hear that you got a bad bottle.

      Unfortunately the DOC or DOCG certifications do not guarantee quality. They guarantee the typicity of the wine. The wine should taste like it comes from the specified area. In Chianti’s case, the area is very large. With such a large appellation there will always be great producers and bad producers. Just because someone follows the DOCG rules does not mean they are good winemakers. Or, they may not care about quality and just want to take advantage of the name Chianti. Or Bunello. Or Barolo, etc. That being said, regular Chianti is not a wine that is meant to blow anyone away. It should be a simple medium-bodied wine with sour cherry fruit, rustic tannnins and high acidity. Chianti Classico is a much smaller area and is the historic heart of the appellation. It has the best terroir. So, your chances of getting a good bottle is greatly increased. But, you have to pay a bit more money. If you don’t want to pay for Classico look for Chianti Fiorentini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Ruffina or Chianti Colli Arentini. These fall somewhere between Chianti and Chianti Classico. They are smaller appellations and quality is usually better. Don’t give up on Chianti though. There are some good producers out there who make good Chianti in addition to their higher end bottlings: Badia al Coltibuono; Badia a Colle; Toscola Salcheto Chianti Colli Senesi and others.

      And don’t give up on the appellation system whether in Italy, Spain, France or Portugal. Although they do not guarantee quality your chances of getting a good wine are better. Most of the time. In my opinion.

      Thanks for visiting the site.

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