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Castello dei Rampolla d'Alceo 2008

Bordeaux Red Blends from Tuscany, Italy
  • JS100
  • RP96
  • WS97
  • WE95
  • JS94
  • JS97
  • V97
  • RP95
  • WS95
  • JS95
  • RP94
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Winemaker Notes

Deep purple color. On the nose, espresso, sweet melted licorice, black currant jam, tobacco and toasty oak. Full-bodied, with refined tannins.

Critical Acclaim

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JS 100
James Suckling

Love this. Fabulous aromas of currants and blackberries. Hints of licorice, Indian spices and dried violets. Full-bodied, ultra-fine tannins and amazing fruit, yet so vibrant, racy and balanced. The structure of Margaux with the style of Rampolla. Best ever. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. From organically grown grapes.

RP 96
The Wine Advocate

The 2008 d'Alceo is a huge, inward, brooding wine. Plums, black cherries, camphor, incense and smoke emerge over time, but only with great reluctance. The 2008 is going to require considerable patience, but it is shaping up to be an absolute jewel. The d’Alceo is a wine of notable depth and purity, but it is very closed down at the moment. Dark red fruit, flowers, mint, spices, tar, cassis, graphite and camphor linger on the huge, structured finish. This is a towering effort from the Di Napoli family. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2033.
Rating: 96+

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Castello dei Rampolla

Castello dei Rampolla

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Castello dei Rampolla, , Italy
Castello dei Rampolla
The Rampolla winery, with its cellars dating back to the 13th century and its ancient Castle overlooking the Conca d’Oro’s valley, has been owned by the di Napoli for nearly three centuries. The 42 hectares of vineyard located on calcareous soils at about 360 meters above the sea level in the Chianti Classico locality of Panzano grow Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

South Africa

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An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance, South Africa has a surprisingly long and rich history considering its status as part of the “New World” of wine. In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century. Today, however, it is increasingly responsible for high-quality wines that are helping to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot, but the Benguela current from Antarctica provides the brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening. Similarly, cooler high-elevation vineyard sites offer climatic diversity.

South Africa’s wine regions are divided into region, then smaller districts, and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for earthy, gamey reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following behind.

Pinotage

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A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape. A cross between finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, it was created in 1925 and surprised its inventors by being darker and more tannic than either of its parents. Pinotage at first seemed nearly impossible to tame, with its bold profile and wild flavors. While the grape has always had detractors, advances in viticultural and winemaking techniques have since helped to make Pinotage wines more palatable. Today it is a popular South African export both as a single varietal wine and in so-called “Cape blends,” in which Pinotage forms a significant proportion of a blend with other red varieties. It is grown very minimally outside of South Africa.

In the Glass

There is no mistaking the smell of Pinotage—common descriptors include tobacco, smoke, tar, bacon, licorice, hoisin sauce, and burnt rubber, in addition to more run-of-the-mill fruit like plum and blackberry. The flavors are bold, and tannins are firm but sweet—in fact, many Pinotage wines bear more resemblance to Australian Shiraz than to Pinot Noir.

Perfect Pairings

For a wine this powerful, food should be equally bold, and gets bonus points for mirroring Pinotage’s sweet and sour flavors. Classic smoky South African braai (barbecue) is the most obvious match, while grilled curry sausage, lamb biryani, or richly spiced beef stew would be equally welcome at the table.

Sommelier Secret

The name “Pinotage” is a subtle portmanteau: The Pinot part is obvious, but the second half is a bit confusing. In the early 1900s, Cinsault was known in South Africa as “Hermitage”—hence Pinotage. The somewhat less appealing “Herminoir” was also considered.

HNYRAAVDO08C_2008 Item# 123109

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