Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Castello di Amorosa White Wines

Castello di Amorosa
It’s always interesting to hear which wineries people hold dear.  For folks not in the wine business, that choice often centers on a winery they visited once.  Maybe they joined the club and get quarterly reminders of their trip to wine country.

I know a fellow who talks about a particular Napa Valley winery every time I see him.  It was at least a decade since his visit, but it impressed him so much that he still relives that vacation.  Castello di Amorosa is one of those places people will talk about for years after their visit.

Dario Sattui opened Calistoga’s Castello di Amorosa winery in 2007.  The structure - built in the style of a Tuscan castle - is mightily impressive and unforgettable.  It employs brick, wood and iron imported from Italy, along with over 8,000 tons of local stone.  This wine castle was a dream for years before it actually took shape.

Today, winemakers Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno work in the cellar there with consulting winemaker Sebastiano Rosa.  There is no distribution for their wines.  If you want them, order from the winery or go pay them a visit that you'll remember forever.

Their red wines were the subject of an earlier article on this site.  The winery was kind enough to send samples of a few of their white wines for me to try.

Dry Gew├╝rztraminer 2012 Anderson Valley, Mendocino County

This wine comes from an Anderson Valley vineyard where they have sourced Gew├╝rztraminer for years.  They made 2,392 cases at 14.5% abv - rather high for this variety.  Stainless steel fermentation means you can expect a clean and refreshing wine.  The retail price is $25.

Pale straw in color, the bouquet comes on strong with beautiful honeysuckle, pineapple, apple and pear notes.  The palate is fruity and fresh.  Apple and pear flavors are joined by minerality, a spicy note and great acidity.  This wine will be just fine with shrimp or crabs.

Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011

The grapes come from a vineyard at the south end of the Napa Valley.  1,424 cases were made, and the wine retails for $28.  It hits 14.4% abv on the alcohol meter, is 100% barrel fermented and aged sur lie for ten months  in 50% new French oak.  Sur lie means the wine is aged with the spent yeast cells - lees - still in it.  It is stirred to re-suspend the yeast.

A beautiful golden color, the wine's nose is bursting with ripe tropical fruit and funky, buttery oak.  The palate is big, too, with similar fruit and oak spice.  Flavors of citrus and pears find comfort in the silky, buttery oak for what we could call a classic California Chardonnay.  The acidity offers a zing to complement the full mouthfeel.  Feel free to pair it with shellfish and salads.

Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay Reserve 2011 Santa Barbara County

From one of my favorite vineyards, this Santa Maria Valley wine was produced in a quantity of 1,344 cases.  This reserve Chardonnay sells for $38, and the alcohol is not shy - 14.8% abv.  Aged for ten months in French oak, on the lees, only 20% of the grapes went through malolactic fermentation in the barrel.  This means you can expect the wine be a little more steely than creamy.

This wine also has a lovely golden hue, and a nose which carries every bit of that ten months of oak.  Get past the oak spice, and you find lovely tropical and citrus accents.  The same can be said for the palate, which is abetted by a riveting acidity.  It's not exactly the steely wine a minimized malolactic might indicate, but it definitely has a lot of focus apart from the oak influence.  This one will be a hit with any type of seafood or poultry.

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