Monday, February 25, 2013

A Trio Of Italian-Style Wines From Castello Di Amorosa

I've written written before about the wines of Castello di Amorosa - the Calistoga castle that's a replica of a real Tuscan castle.  If you visit, it's hard to miss.  There aren't a lot of castles in the neighborhood.  This one took 14 years to build. It even has a torture chamber.  Presumably, the wine served there is very different from the wine served in the tasting room.

Castello di Amorosa uses estate fruit for all their wines, some of which are Italian varieties.  They kindly supplied me with samples of three of their wines which tip the fedora to their Italian heritage.

Gioia Rosato di Sangiovese 2011  $24
Pronounced "Joy-uh," this 100% Sangiovese rosé is fruity and fresh and a lively deep pink to boot.  Its nose is fresh and vibrant with cherries and plums.  The palate bursts with strawberries and raspberries, and a streak of earthy minerality.  A dynamite acidity laces it all together.  This wine looks big, but actually comes across as a light-middleweight.  The mouthfeel is crisp and refreshing, so it’s a great choice for salads, sandwiches or sipping on the porch this spring and summer. The alcohol content won't weigh you down - only 13.1% abv.  The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks.

Napa Valley Sangiovese 2009  $30
This varietal offering has medium density and is deep purple in the center of the glass, turning lighter at the edge.  The nose is enormous, laden with black cherry and blackberry with floral notes for good measure.  It's a bombastic bouquet, and it's fitting on such a heavyweight wine.  Frankly, it drinks more like a young Napa Cab - big alcohol, big tannins and fruit a lot darker than I expect in a Sangiovese.  The 14.5% alcohol content shows vividly upon opening, but after a night uncorked, it settles down quite a bit.  There's a lot of influence from the 18 months of ageing in French oak barrels which this wine receives.

La Castellana 2008  $68
A Super Tuscan-style blend, this one is made from 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 16% Sangiovese - all estate fruit.  The nose bears a lot of heat after opening, which burns off in a couple of hours.  The 14.6% abv remains noticeable, though.  The wood leaves its mark here, too - 20 months in French oak.  Intense aromas of blackberry dominate the smells, with a bit of tar and eucalyptus creeping through.  Huge fruit blasts through on the palate, too.  The tannins are firm and the acidity is mouth-watering.  On the third night after opening, the tar was so deep and rich I might have mistaken it for a Syrah.  The winemaker notes suggest a pairing with wild boar, which sounds great to me.

Winemakers Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno have produced some commendable wine.  Hear Castello di Amorosa’s consulting winemaker Sebastiano Rosa talk about the origins of Super Tuscan blends, and his history with wine, on the Castello di Amorosa SoundCloud site.

Castello di Amorosa wines are sold only at the castle or through their website.

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