Saturday, 17 January 2015

Castello Dei Rampolla - Mini Verticals Of Sammarco & Vigna d´Alceo

Sverker invited some of us to taste a couple of vintages of Sammarco and Vigna d´Alceo. It turned out to be another great evening - thanks!

But we started with two bottles of white wines, one with bubbles! Served blind.

2006 Felsen Türmchen Riesling Spätlese, Dönnhoff
A fresh, light on it feet kind of nose with notes of pear ice cream, freshly cut grass, slate and a touch of lavender soap. Very, very good. Feels very young still.
The taste is young and taut with notes of yellow pears, slate, gravel and the same lavender note as on the nose. The acidity is high and fresh and produces lots of saliva. A long, balanced finish that ends dry. This is very fine.
92p   (tasted 2015/01)

1996 Comtes de Champagne, Taittinger
What to say? What superlatives should I use to try to describe this beauty? Only January and already two candidates tasted for making the Most Memorable List when 2015 will be summed up. This is the first.
The nose evolves all night long and I saved the glass to see how it would perform when it had been standing in the glass for several hours and had reach room temperature. It was just stunning.
Some notes - among many - is perfectly ripe yellow apples, freshly washed clothes drying in a summer breeze, birch sap, salted caramel, cap gun smoke and many more.
The taste is like drinking liquid rocks with some caramel, flowers and lemons thrown in. The acidity is perfect. The finish is long, long, long and so balanced and creamy that the only thing you want to do is to take another large sip. And it still very young. We actually nailed it as Comtes de Champagne but I thought it to be younger than this. Will keep for a very long time.
98p   (tasted 2015/01)

From this great outset, four decanters were presented, and it was time for four vintages of Sammarco.
1986 Sammarco
The sixth vintage of Sammarco, the first one being 1980, performed very well. Sammarco is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Sangiovese thrown in, although the 2006 has some Merlot in the blend.
The 86 has a mature, round, barnyardy nose with notes of dried cherries and black currants, lead pencil, pipe tobacco and sweet autumn leaves. The nose is that of a 1985 Bordeaux from a fine Château. Very, very good.
The taste is mature and dry with notes of red and black currants, hard cherry candy, bakelite and some dry tobacco. More sweet and round on the nose than on the palate. A good warmth in the medium long finish where some tannins still are noticeable. If you have em, drink em.
92p   (tasted 2015/01)

1997 Sammarco
This 97 proves that this vintage still is a force to be reckon with (check out 40 bottles of Tuscan 1997 tasted during 2012/2013 for more proof of that statement - here).
The nose shows some signs of maturity but the fruit is still bright, sweet and perky, with notes of black currants, cherry syrup, chocolate wafers, warm tiles and some tobacco aromas. It has depth and refinement. Lovely.
The taste is a class act with a fine black currant and cherry fruit with additional notes of liquorice, lead pencil shavings, black currant leaves and warm tiles. There still is a fair amount of sandy tannins in the long finish. Very vital.
95p   (tasted 2015/01)

1998 Sammarco
The one year younger version displays very much the same character and notes as the 1997, but in a bit more restrained way. The fruit is a tad cooler and it behaves itself with a bit more grace, but I like the exuberance of the 97 more. Still a very, very fine bottle of wine.
92p   (tasted 2015/01)

1999 Sammarco
Corked #¤%&¤#"#¤&!!!!

The next flight appeared on the table in the shape of three decanters. Vigna d´Alceo is, as Sammarco, almost all about Cabernet Sauvignon but here the rest is Petit Verdot.
1996 Vigna d´Alceo
I tasted this, the debut vintage of d´Alceo, this summer, and was not that impressed. This bottle was better, even though it had to sit in the shadow of the masterpiece that is the 1999 (see below).
The nose is tight and fairly intense with notes of sweet/sour black cherries, black currants, gravel and a touch of coconut flakes. Rather dense. A fine warmth.
The taste is broad and ripe with warm black fruit, some unresolved tannins and notes of warm gravel, tobacco ashes and black currants leaves. A long, structured finish that ends a tad foursquare. Again, better than the previous bottle but the character is that of a slightly grumpy one.
89p   (tasted 2015/01)

1997 Vigna d´Alceo
Corked #¤%&¤#"#¤&!!!! Two bottles corked out of seven  - that is not a great batting average for Castello dei Rampolla...

1999 Vigna d´Alceo
This almost perfect specimen showcases a gorgeous nose with notes of ripe black currants, hard cherry candy, violets, forest floor, rosemary and a hint of a Cohiba cigar, that is being smoked in a distance. Utterly captivating, deep, layered and refined. Pure pleasure.
The taste is, as boring it may sound, the proverbial "iron fist in a velvet glove". It has muscles and backbone, all wrapped in sweet black currant fruit and sandy tannins. Additional notes of forest floor, liquorice, warm tiles and rosemary. The finish is over one minute long and is beautifully balanced. No need to hurry an drink any remaining bottles, this will go on for many years. A real treat.
99p   (tasted 2015/01)

1997 Sassicaia
This was kindly opened as a replacement for the corked 97 d´Alceo. I have been fortunate to taste this four times over the last couple of years and it has behaved great every times (note - this is NOT a 87p wine...).
The nose is a tad mature, deep and intoxicating with notes of red and black currants, leather, tobacco, dried herbs and forest floor. With air there is a hint of green peppers, leading us to guess Bordeaux before the bottle is revealed. Very, very good.
The taste is expressive and taut with notes of black currants, freshly grounded coffee, leather, forest floor and expensive leather. A long, finely tuned finish with lots of life still. This is really fine.
94p   (tasted 2015/01)

Then it was time for liquid desserts!
2008 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese Auction, Willi Schaefer
A young, sprightly nose with gorgeous notes of grey pears, lemon and lime peel, oyster shells, white peaches and boatloads of sweet minerals. Upfront, but with a great depth and focus.
The taste is pure and fresh as a mountain river with notes of sweet lime, flint, salt covered rocks, white peaches and grey pears. The acidity is crystal clear and just stunning. The finish goes on and on and on. A really, really fine bottle of Riesling.
95p   (tasted 2015/01)

2006 Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Dönnhoff
It was interesting to get to taste these three different Goldcap wines from Dönnhoff, all from the same vintage. The Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube was the lightest one on the nose but still showed nice aromas of peaches, rubber, warm grass and wet asphalt.
The taste is medium sweet with a great concentration and notes of white flowers, apricots, blood oranges and grass. A very fine acidity. Very, very good.
91p   (tasted 2015/01)

2006 Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Dönnhoff
The Brücke was my favourite, and the nose with scents of peaches, diesel, vanilla ice cream and a touch banana peel oozed up from the glass. Lots and lots of sweet minerals. Very deep.
The taste is a lection in purity and class with notes of white flowers, grapefruit, crushed slate and a hint of a vanilla pod. A lot of salty rocks in the long, long finish. A fine cleansing acidity. Great!
94p   (tasted 2015/01)

2006 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Dönnhoff
The Hermannshöhle is the most restrained of the three. The nose is cool and elegant and displays notes of oranges, white peaches, sweet minerals and a touch of band aid.
The taste is also restrained but beneath the surface there is a sweet, laser focused fruit with notes of grapefruit, yellow beets, sugared lemon cream and lavender honey. The acidity is the highest of the three. Very, very long. I would venture that this has a very long life ahead of itself.
93p   (tasted 2015/01)


  1. My last Sammarco was 1995......great memory for that bottle

    Very upset to see 2 bottles out of seven .....corked !!

    Do you believe ......many times you put a bottle in a corner, out of your cellar....because you have not many expectations is actually one of the best of the entire batch ???

    Just happen to me again this Sunday with a 2003 Barbaresco Gallina......out of the cellar for 4-5 weeks....and did not care at all....ready to dump in the was the best bottle out of the past six...
    I dedicated that bottle to the most beautiful women silicone...of 1950-60....Anita Ekberg....
    RIP lived your life in nothing makes sense

    1. Would love to taste the 95 - I think that 95 is a great vintage in Tuscany.
      And salut to Anita Ekberg!