2004 Castello dei Rampolla d'Alceo Toscana
Expert Ratings
WS 96 points
RP 95 points
ST 94 points
(Read the full reviews below)
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Parker, Tanzer and Spectator's
Best European Cabernets of 2004
Wine Retail Price RP WS ST Average
Vigna d'Alceo $140 95 96 94 95
Ornellaia $175 95 97 92 94.7
Latour $474+ 95 95 94 94.7
Sassicaia $165-339 93 94 97 94.7
Lafite-Rothschild $700+ 95 93 93 93.7
Margaux $325-945 93 93 94 93.3
Mouton-Rothschild $250-858 92+ 93 92 92.3
Besting Latour, Lafite and Ornellaia

It's a short list. Few Italian Cabernets flirt with the glory of Pauillac, let alone put Lafite and Latour in their place. All that do are drawn off the poor soils of Tuscany. In difficult vintages, it's the warmer perches of Bolgheri and the coast that shine the brightest. Then, it's storied Ornellaia and Sassicaia that tend to capture critical attention.

But in truly great vintages, where the colder soils of the region are treated to growing seasons that would bring the Bordelais to tears, it's the greatest names of Chianti Classico that turn out not only Italy's most coveted Cabernets -- but occasionally Europe's. Such would be the case at famed Castello dei Rampolla in the glorious Tuscan summer of 2004.

It was a near-perfect growing season, one that began with plenty of rainfall, replenishing water reserves after the inferno of 2003. The winter was cold, delaying budbreak. But then the summer shined -- mild temperatures with sunny days and cool nights. At Castello dei Rampolla, the single-vineyard "Vigna d'Alceo" Cabernet Sauvignon wouldn't be picked until early October, almost three weeks later than 2003, barely eking out two tons per acre of succulent, small berry clusters. It would be Rampolla's harvest of the decade -- delivering the most richly textured, elegantly polished Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon of this monumental harvest.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate published a 95-point rave. Tanzer followed at 94, calling the 2004 Vigna d'Alceo a "wonderfully classy and vibrant wine with seamless texture." Deep dark and suave, packed with black fruit compote, modernist in style, yet chiseled in texture, this one seems to walk the tightrope between Pauillac polish, Oakville lushness, and (a tad of) Tuscan rusticity.

Still a baby, showing no sign whatsoever of its 6 years in bottle, The Wine Advocate's 95pt score matched Lafite, Latour, and Ornellaia, and outpointed Sassicaia and Mouton. Wine Spectator upped the ante to 96pts. Go figure.

Tasting Notes

2004 Castello dei Rampolla d'Alceo Toscana
"Displays gorgeous, focused aromas of blackberry, currant and sandalwood. Full-bodied and tightly wound, with velvety tannins and a long finish of mineral, light fresh rosemary and currant. Solid as a rock. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Best after 2011. 1,230 cases made."
96 points -- Wine Spectator

"The 2004 d'Alceo (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot) is even better. It is deceptively rounder and softer than the Sammarco in its expression of cassis, minerals, licorice and sweet, dark fruit. Despite the lushness of its fruit there is plenty of structure lurking underneath, and it will require significant patience before offering its finest drinking. It is one of the highlights of the vintage. 2014-2026."
95 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"Bright ruby. Deeply pitched aromas of blackcurrant, violet, licorice, minerals and oak, along with a whiff of truffle. Enters lively and minerally, then turns broad in the middle palate, displaying terrific density of blackberry and dark cherry flavors. Wonderfully classy and vibrant wine with a seamless texture. The long finish boasts compelling subtle sweetness of fruit. This is consistently one of Italy 's best wines, and the 2004 is one of the top vintages for this bottling in recent memory."
94 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

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