Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Wine: Castello di Amorosa

A man’s home may be his castle, but one man’s Napa Valley castle is his winery.  Dario Sattui - of V. Sattui fame - built Castello di Amorosa in the latter part of the twentieth century.  It looks like it belongs to an earlier time.

Sattui belongs to an earlier time.  He has spent his life fighting long odds and naysayers in order to accomplish what he wants - needs - to do.  It is compelling reading to flip through his descriptions of rebuilding his great-grandfather’s winery, traveling the world for his castle obsession and ultimately willing the enlistment of those whose help he needed.

The Napa Valley estate vineyards are planted mainly to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Primitivo, but he also has vineyards in Mendocino County and Anderson Valley.

It is from these outlying areas that Sattui gets enough Gewürztraminer to produce four different profiles of the aromatic and fruity grape.  200 acres in Mendocino County and nine in Anderson Valley provide most of the fruit.  Additional needs are handled by select growers in Mendocino.  A publicist for the winery was kind enough to send samples of three Castello di Amorosa Gewürztraminer views.

Gewürztraminer is a great, refreshing, white wine for summer - but don't put it in a box.  Gewürztraminer is great all year round.  Kudos to Castello di Amorosa’s Director of Winemaking, Brooks Painter.

Castello di Amorosa Gewürztraminer 2011

This is the dry version, produced entirely from Mendocino County estate grapes. The alcohol level is 13.5% abv, 1,100 cases were made and it sells for $23 retail.

The wine has the color of light straw and an extremely floral nose - absolutely beautiful with pears in the aroma profile.  As I was tasting all three wines, Denise kept asking, “What is that?  It smells great.”  She smelled it from across the room.  The palate shows golden apples and pears with hints of spice.  There’s a great acidity and minerality package that runs from start to finish.  I’d love to have it with some enormous crab legs.

Castello di Amorosa Dolcino 2011

Dolcino means “lightly sweet” in Italian, and that’s what you get in this bottle.  At only 12% abv, it’s light to drink, as well.  1,849 cases were made from estate and grower grapes out of Anderson Valley.  It sells for $24.

The nose is laden with honeysuckle and ripe peaches.  I don’t like to gush, but the bouquets on these wines are fairly amazing.  The palate is lightly sweet, as promised, with fruit up front and herbal notes and a gentle minerality flowing beneath.  The acidity is more gentle than in the dry, as well.  The wine finishes beautifully, with floral and fruit lingering beyond the sip.

Castello di Amorosa Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2011

The dessert wine expression comes from estate grapes in Anderson Valley that were blessed with the noble rot, botrytis cinerea.  The thick skins of Gewürztraminer make it resistant to the mold, so it’s a rare treat to have this bottling.  The grapes were harvested a week into November.  The alcohol is a low 11.2% abv and 2,694 cases were produced.

It shows a nice golden color, a little lighter than most dessert wines.  The nose of honeyed citrus comes on like grapefruit candy, while the palate is silky and viscous.   Rich grapefruit and apricot sweetness drapes itself over the sides of the glass, dense and seductive, with a nice level of acidity to top it off.  A lot of people like to have a few dessert wines around during the holidays, and this one would be quite welcome next to an apple pie or peach cobbler.  For that matter, the dry and the Dolcino versions would be great around holiday time.

All the wines of Castello di Amorosa are available only directly from the winery, either in the tasting room or online.

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