Castello di Ama: art in dialogue with terroir

Castello di Ama: art in dialogue with terroir

by Westgarth Wines June 12, 2024

Since 2000, Castello di Ama, one of the most expressive and highly coveted of the Chianti Classico estates, has married the intrinsic connection between its stunning terroir and the wines with contemporary artistic visions by commissioned artists.

The estate is renowned for wines like L’Apparita, Italy’s first ever 100% Merlot wine – its name meaning “appearing” in reference to the view of the Florence skyline that can be seen on the horizon from the vineyard. Through this sense of place, Castello di Ama instills in the idea of the Genius Loci.

Genius, in this case, refers to a higher existence, representing things that are created and those who create them, while loci refers to the place. Artists are thus invited to experience the loci; to take in the landscape, breathe in the air, taste the wines, be inspired by the totality of Castello di Ama, and create.

L'albero di Ama: moltiplicazione e divisione dello specchio

At the bottom of the staircase to the ancient cellars of Castello di Ama lies Michelangelo Pistoletto’s tree trunk rising from the ground. Cut into its radius, two mirrors cleverly reflect, representing the hidden depths of infinite thought.

“On the outside the cortex is opaque, while on the inside the light of the mind reigns. The trunk is uniqueness, matter, the interior is multiplicity and the labyrinthine reflection of thought. Just as on the outside the trunk multiplies in the forest, so on the inside the mirror multiplies in repeated refraction, to the point of hosting the infinite.

The internal part is also where time marks and draws the age of the tree in concentric circles. With this iconic, simple and profound image, Pistoletto reminds us that thought is always inside the physicality of the body.” – Laura Cherubini, Art historian and critic


Anish Kapoor’s αἷμα, signifying blood in ancient Greek, can be found in the little chapel on the estate. A bright red circle of luminous intensity radiates from the ground in front of the shrine.

“A thing exists in the world because it has mythological, psychological and philosophical coherence [...] That is when a thing is truly made…,” says Kapoor.

Purposefully leaving its meaning open-ended, αἷμα poses many questions as to the artist’s intentions with the piece and leaves plenty of room for reflection on what it means to the beholder.

Per Ama

American neo-conceptualist Jenny Holzer’s Per Ama came together in 2020, during the pandemic. Noticing a forgotten and largely untended corner of the estate next to the San Lorenzo vineyard, Holzer proposed a romantic two-acre garden, a work seen as a departure from her usual more socio-political expressions.

“Too little in the world smells good [...] The scent can announce the garden before it’s seen.” – Jenny Holzer

Unable to travel to Italy due to travel restrictions, the landscape and work were carried out by stone carner Adam Paul Heller and the estate team. Two passages from the poems Essera Animale per La Grazia by Italian Poet Patrizia Cavalli, and The Biology of Art by WS Merwin were engraved on large stones.

Confession of zero

Hiroshi Sugimoto undertook the immense personal challenge of giving form to the concept of zero; making a three-dimensional representation of absence.

Two large opposing exponential cones – one emerging from the ground, the other, from the ceiling – each terminating at just 0.8mm in diameter point at each other, highlighting the zero point that lies between them.

“The realm of zero lies in that narrow interstice where the two points confront one another here in this eighteenth-century chapel at Ama, where the mathematical model has taken up its discreet residence. I invite you to carefully examine that invisible point, for in it can be found the mystery of existence.” – Hiroshi Sugimoto

Towards the ground

Tucked away discreetly in a secluded courtyard of Castello di Ama, a square aperture cut into the paved floor opens to reveal artist Cristina Iglesias’s sculpture; Towards the ground.

“The relief, which is the bottom of the fountain basin, is positioned obliquely with respect to the paved floor of the courtyard, the impression is that the surface of the water continues and extends under the paving, and therefore under our feet: the opening allows you to take a look inside the earth.” – Florian Matzner, Art historian

Red nerve

Mirosław Bałka’s red nerve is a single red thread from floor to ceiling in the darkness of a cellar. Surrounded by the oppressive steel of the tanks and stairs, the fragile thread is attached to a mechanism that causes it to move around in the surrounding space, breathing life into its innate organic symbolism.

“In 1989, when the political order in Europe changed and the wind of democracy started to blow all over the East, I couldn’t imagine that after 30 years we will find ourselves in such a dark place. As an artist I’ve been touching the subject of these worries. As a people, we have to deal with this situation through our history and our political and social presence. "red nerve", being vertical in a tall dark space, can give us advice or rather a request: stay vertical, take care of your fragility, as this is a real value which you can offer to society. The nervous system has a critical function to perform in the human body.” – Mirosław Bałka

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