Castello di Ama releases ‘masterpiece’ San Lorenzo in HK

Castello di Ama, one of Chianti’s top estates, has launched the latest vintage of its flagship wine ‘San Lorenzo’ in Hong Kong, which the winery’s owner likened to Tignanello.

Lorenza Sebasti, owner of Caastello di Ama, in Hong Kong

Humming with energy and life, the wine – a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Malvasia Nera –  is believed by owner Lorenza Sebasti of having such longevity and promise ahead of it that she compared it to her neighbour Marchesi Antinori’s famed ‘Tignanello’ made in Chianti between the Greve and Pesa river valleys.

“It’s all about selection of old vineyards… It’s our flagship wine, and it’s sort of like Tignanello,” said Lorenza when talking to dbHK in Hong Kong last week. The Sangiovese used in the blend is sourced from vines that are 20 years or older.

But different from ‘Tignanello’, a Super Tuscan born in 1970s and a blend of Sangiovese with Cabernets, Sebasti claims Ama’s history and pedigree in Gaiole predates the more recent ‘Super Tuscan’ fame by centuries.

According to Sebasti, the history of winemaking in Ama was first mentioned in 1773 when Tuscany’s Grand Duke Peter Leopold visited Ama and praised the well-attended vineyards in the area. The Italian writer Giovanni Cosimo Villifranchi later wrote the wines from Ama were, “far superior to many of the best wines that come to us from other countries,” leading the vintner convinced that Ama has historically being a top site for making wines.

Today, Castello di Ama’s name is intertwined with its range of top cuvées namely ‘La Casuccia’, ‘Bellavista’, and ‘L’Apparita’ as well as ‘San Lorenzo’.

The 2015 vintage, according to Sebasti, is “extraordinary” and produced a “masterpiece”. Wines produced from this warmer vintage tend to show depth and density. Likening the vintage to 2004, she said,” it’s stellar, and has such purity…There’s warmth to the wine, but not too warm. There’s also richness to it.”

Also starting from the 2015 vintage, a serial number will be added to each bottle of the top cuvées including the three single vineyards and ‘San Lorenzo’ to give the wines more traceability and identity. Explaining her decision, she said, “Artisanal craft is part of the beauty of the wine, and we should never forget about this.”

Asked about her winemaking philosophy, Sebasti who is also an avid art collector, was quick to draw inspiration from German-French sculptor Jean Arp. “Jean Arp once said, ‘Working on a sculpture often takes months, even years. I work until enough of my life has flowed into its body.’ And I can say the same for my wines. All the wines Marco (Pallanti) and I make are wines we love and poured our hearts in.”

Having secured a distribution deal for mainland China last year, the winery is also excited about its prospects in the country. “The market grew so fast in the past five years. [I] can’t imagine what will happen in the next five years,” she went on.

At the moment, about 20% of its wine are exported to Asia including Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea through Enoteca, as well as Singapore by CrystalWines and Thailand via Ben Valentine.

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