In 1982, Marco Pallanti assumed operational responsibility of the winery. Pallanti was a young viticulturalist who in a very few years had become one of the most highly respected winemakers in Tuscany. In 2003, he was crowned “Oenologist of the Year” by Vini d'Italia, published by Gambero Rosso and Slow Food. He began, in those early years, a long project to evaluate, with precision, the potential of the local area, with an eye to vastly improving the quality of its wines. Subsequent division of the various vineyards into separate, homogeneous parcels and his study of the various ripening phases revealed the path to follow: the singling out of the best spots to grow sangiovese, with absolute quality as the only guiding principle.
At the same time, he began experimenting with non-traditional varieties, merlot, chardonnay, and pinot noir, in order to see if, in those areas that proved unsuitable for sangiovese, other varieties might thrive in Ama’s distinctive terroir. In other words, the continuous search for growing areas specific to each separate variety would ensure that every wine would be an eloquent expression of the extraordinary terroir of Ama.
Over the five years 1982-1987, some 50,000 vines were grafted over, a truly enormous number, considering that the vineyard density was 2,800 vines per hectare. Another cornerstone for the future success of Castello di Ama wines was experimentation with new methods of training the vines, all with the goal of improving fruit ripeness. In 1982, and for the first time in Italy, vines were grown with the foliage trained into V-shaped vertical canopies, known as the open lyre system, the result of trials in France for low-density vineyards. The purpose is to raise fruit quality by increasing overall canopy surface, thus enabling more leaves, functioning as so many panels, to capture more sunlight to transmit to the clusters.
In a very few years, 23 hectares of vineyard, largely sangiovese, were re-structured. As one can easily see from all of this, it is the vineyard that has received the most intensive investments, a strategy that continues over the years, thanks to an annual programme of replantings and vineyard management.