- The Universe is a strange place….
”Oh dear…he’s getting all weird and deep on us!”
Wait a minute!!! Hear me out!!! So I was pouring at a wine tasting at a private residence last week, here in Jacksonville, and I happened to be looking through their wine cellar…because I’m nosy like that. Now let me just tell you that this is one of the most INSANE wine cellars I’ve ever seen; not just because of its size, because as anyone will tell you size isn’t all that matters(!), but more because of the bottles contained within the cellar. I mean, there was stuff in there I’d never even heard-of before, mainly Napa-focused, but from generally wineries you just don’t see around for sale at a retail level.
Long story short, my eyes were drawn to one particular bottle, mainly for the fact it had a wax seal; and with it being laid down on its side at the time, I needed to take it out of the rack to get a better look at the label. The bottle was: Castello di Amorosa “La Castellana.” I remember thinking that I’d really like to give it a try, but I wasn’t about to ask the owners if I could pop it open (even though they would-have in a heartbeat), so I put the bottle back, didn’t think too much more of it, and returned to the tasting.
So the very next morning, I’m sat down at my laptop typing up an email and there’s a knock at my door. It’s the FedEx guy and he has a package for me….a wine shipment (as is usually the case)…and guess who these wine samples are from…that’s right! Castello di Amorosa “La Castellana.”
I’m not a religious guy…but I think the wine God Bacchus SERIOUSLY wanted me to write this wine review!
- Castello di Amorosa first opened in ‘07, and is the side-project (and quite a side-project at that!) of Dario Sattui, who also owns and operates the V. Sattui Winery. The vision was to build a Tuscan-influenced wine estate in California. Reportedly, Home Deport and Lowe’s wasn’t going to cut it for the building materials, so they had all the marble, bricks and tile imported directly from Italy.
- “La Castellana” translates to “the lady/maiden of the castle” in Italian.
- The “La Castellana” follows a Super-Tuscan theme of using mainly Bordeaux grapes (in this case, Cabernet and Merlot) to make up the majority of the blend, with a little Sangiovese added to give an Italian-twang to that American accent.
- The wines from Castello di Amorosa are a tiny nightmare to get your hands-on, as they see little-to-no distribution in retail stores or restaurants, with the best way of getting hold of a bottle-or-three being the Castello di Amorosa website….or visiting the winery of course!
- The Castello di Amorosa vineyards are in the heart of the Diamond Mountain District, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) positioned at the top-end of Napa Valley.
- The Diamond Mountain District has a little over 500 acres under vine (that’s about 0.78 of a sq. mile), with Cabernet dominating.
- Since Castello di Amorosa name the “Napa Valley” AVA on the label, they must have a minimum of 85% Napa Valley grapes in the bottle. This is stricter than a simple “California” label (set at a 75% minimum), but not as strict as naming a specific vineyard on the bottle (95%). So when you’re wondering about the price difference between various wines made of the same grape, all coming out of California, the rules of minimum percentages is a BIG factor!
- It supposedly took almost 900,000 bricks imported from Italy to complete the Castello di Amorosa winery. That sounds impressive; but then again, I haven’t got too much of a frame of reference when it comes to constructing castles, since I haven’t built too many. Surprising really, since I’m from England….
- Because of the higher elevation of the Diamond Mountain District, the grapes don’t experience the cooling fog of some of the lower vineyards. The wines therefore tend to be described with lingo such as: “powerful,” “opulent,” “tannic” and “…bloody hell! I’m going to be chewing on this for a fortnight!!!” Not so much with the wine though!
Not as “big” as I was expecting, they’ve actually done quite a good job of giving this wine a “Tuscan feel.” Velvety smooth, and surprisingly restrained, it probably needs at least another few years in the bottle before it gets to where it needs to be. Black cherry, plum and mocha dominate, with well integrated tannins that don’t overwhelm. I got a little a tobacco and oak in there, also.
Quite a surprise from what I was expecting. Napa has been boring me a little lately, but maybe it’s because I get sent (by way of wine samples) so much of it. The Castello di Amorosa “La Castellana” is different, and if you’re looking to experience a more elegant side to “The Valley,” you might want to give it a shot.
I paired it with an episode of Downton Abbey…and I recommend you do the same.