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Ampeleia, Tuscany, Italy

Ampeleia
Maremma, Tuscany

 

Ampeleia was established in 2002, the year in which a young and impulsive Marco Tait answered the call of the current owners, Elisabetta Foradori and Giovanni Podini, to take charge of the first harvest without being fully aware of what he was getting involved in. Marco, having known Elisabetta for quite a while and being fresh out of oenology and viticulture school, had been enchanted by the call of the Maremma.

However, Ampeleia had been conceived by three friends two years earlier, at an altitude of 2,153m in the Comici mountain refuge in the Dolomites. It was during the winter of 2000 that Elisabetta, Giovanni, and Thomas had the idea for creating Ampeleia. They wanted to farm in a place that was beautiful but out of the ordinary, away from the stereotypes around which the world of wine revolves.

For the following two years they traveled far and wide throughout Italy in search of that ideal place, which they came across one spring day in Roccatederighi. An exhilarating discovery, a place to take your breath away, with vineyards and a terroir with incredible potential. This is it, Ampeleia will be born here. However, as we all know, saying is one thing, doing is another, and in this case the “doing” was hectares of land to be tilled, vines to be planted, grapes to be harvested.

They started straight away because the land cannot wait. Marco was persuaded by their dream at a stand at Vinitaly and travelled to the Upper Maremma, convinced he would only be there for a few weeks during the grape harvest but instead, he began to put down roots in Roccatederighi. With the impulsiveness and courage of his twenty years, he took over the management of the vineyards and cellar, starting with a few concrete tanks and the six hectares inherited from the former owner planted with different red grape varieties. His instinct led him immediately to focus on Cabernet Franc and he started to plant it impulsively.

These were years of discoveries, such as the decision to focus on biodynamics, or to find friends of Cabernet Franc, even better if they were local. This was the start of the return to the Mediterranean variety par excellence, the other native of the Upper Maremma, Alicante Nero.

Conceived in the mountains, Ampeleia grew over the years like a rolling snowball. New vineyards, the arrival of animals and young people from different corners of Italy, to dream together with Marco.

Today Ampeleia covers over 120 hectares of land, 35 of which are vineyards. The rest is woodland, arable land, and our olive grove. There is also a small vegetable garden and the animals have reared their families here.

THE VINEYARDS

35 hectares of vineyards are divided into four main units, intentionally distant from one another and located at different altitudes and microclimates. From 250 to 550m above sea level, passing from a notoriously Mediterranean and maritime climate to the more continental and cooler climate of the Upper Maremma.

All vineyards are within the Colline Metallifere Geopark, one of nine Italian geoparks recognized by UNESCO to be of exceptional geological interest.

LA ROCCA

This is the kingdom of Cabernet Franc, the Master of Ampeleia. It is a place of contrasts, of impact and of great energy that expresses its uniqueness through this vine variety.

Located at an altitude of 500m, it is the largest vineyard. 12 hectares are divided into 7 parcels of Cabernet Franc, 4 parcels of co-planted Bianco, and one parcel of Merlot. The grapes of La Rocca are destined for the wines of “Ampeleia,” “Cabernet Franc,” “Empatia,” and “Bianco di Ampeleia.”

The vineyards are a mixture of schist, palombini limestone and clay and have south/south-east exposure. A natural amphitheater, La Rocca takes its name from the spur of rock above it on the left, on which Roccatederighi was built.

The view stretches as far as Elba and even Corsica on clear days. The microclimate differs from the other vineyards in that it is more continental, cooler with significant temperature variations between night and day. Even on summer evenings a t-shirt rarely suffices and snow often falls in winter.

SASSOFORTE

Hidden in the scrub at 300m above sea level, there is find a checkerboard of vineyards that take their name from the highest mountain in the surrounding area.

On the peak of Sassoforte there are still ruins of an ancient castle used as a lookout by the Sienese. The strength of this habitat is transferred into the composition of its soils, rich in rhyolite and grey clays, washed by the waters that run down the slopes. With south/south-east exposure, it is the vineyard that best illustrates our Mediterranean character.

It extends over 5 hectares, divided into 7 parcels, planted with Carignano, Mourvèdre, Alicante Nero and white grape varieties. It is protected by Mediterranean scrub of myrtle, strawberry tree and cork oaks, whose aromas are transferred to the wines produced with its grapes: “Kepos,” “Carignano,” and “Bianco di Ampeleia.”

PIEVE

The “La Pieve” vineyards are ideal for growing Alicante Nero, a native variety of Maremma that was removed to make room for other varieties, but which we obstinately replanted in its native ground in 2003. Although distinct in its character, Alicante Nero is also known as Grenache.

At 300m above sea level, it is formed of 10 hectares in a single parcel, surrounded by olive groves and woods. It is an open area, with a view stretching as far as Mount Amiata. These are fertile and well-ventilated lands, with high air exchange rates, composed of clays mixed with pebbles, conglomerates and sand. The characteristics of Pieve give wines a delicate, light, harmonious nature. This is why half of the land is dedicated to Alicante Nero and the other half is divided between Mourvèdre and Carignano, which produce the grapes for Unlitro, Rosato, and part of Kepos.

CANNUCCETO

This vineyard is closest to traditional Maremma, at 200m above sea level. It is here where the influence of the sea, which has left a legacy of limestone deposits and marine fossils in the clay soil, is felt most. It extends over 7 hectares, is located in a more enclosed ventilated hilly area, and has various exposures. Here they have planted Sangiovese, Alicante Nero, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvèdre. It is the land of Unlitro.

Wines Available from Ampeleia

“Bianco di Ampeleia” IGT Toscana White Wine

  • Varieties: 90% Trebbiano, 5% Ansonaco, 5% Malvasia, vine age 8 years
  • Vinification: co-fermented in concrete vats, with 5 days contact with the skins
  • Aging: on lees for 6 months in concrete
  • 2,000 cases produced

 

“Rosato di Ampeleia” IGT Toscana Rose Wine

  • Varieties: 80% Carignan, 20% Alicante Nero (Grenache)
  • Vinification: direct-pressed Carignan with whole clusters of Alicante Nero macerate for 12 days
  • Aging: 6 Months in Concrete
  • 1,600 cases produced

 

“Unlitro” IGT Toscana Red Wine

  • Varieties: 40% Alicante Nero (Grenache), 25% Mourvedre, 15% Carignan, 15% Sangiovese, 5% Alicante Bouschet
  • Vinification: Varieties vinified separately, 10% whole-cluster, short 3-day maceration
  • Aging: 6 months in concrete
  • 12,000 cases produced

 

“Kepos di Ampeleia” IGT Toscana Red Wine

  • Varieties: 50% Alicante Nero (Grenache), 30% Mourvedre, 20% Carignan
  • Vinification: Co-fermented, 15-day maceration in concrete
  • Aging: 10 months in concrete
  • 1,500 cases produced

 

Alicante IGT Costa Toscana Red Wine

  • Varieties: 100% Alicante Nero (Grenache)
  • Vinification: 20% whole-cluster in concrete
  • Aging: 10 months in concrete
  • 600 cases produced

 

Carignano IGT Toscana Red Wine

  • Varieties: 100% carignan
  • Vinification: 15% whole-cluster in concrete
  • Aging: 10 months in concrete
  • 350 cases produced

 

Cabernet Franc IGT Toscana Red Wine

  • Varieties: 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Vinification: 15% whole-cluster in concrete
  • Aging: 10 months in concrete
  • 600 cases produced

 

“Ampeleia” IGT Costa Toscana Red Wine

  • Varieties: 100% Cabernet Franc, vine age 15-25 years
  • Vinification: fully destemmed, maceration and fermentation for 20 days in cement tanks and large wooden vats
  • Aging: 12 months in these cement and large wooded vats, 2 years of aging in bottle
  • 1,250 cases produced