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Castello di Amorosa

Alison Cochrane Hernandez
 
January 18, 2016 | Alison Cochrane Hernandez

Aging Gracefully

If you have ever taken a guided tour of the Castello, you will have walked past our Library Rooms, filled with the Castello’s older vintages resting quietly in their cool brick shelves in small, frescoed rooms behind hand-forged wrought iron gates. One of these rooms even houses wines from Dario’s great grandfather’s original winery in San Francisco, dating back over a century. These dimly lit rooms raise numerous questions from inquisitive guests: what is the best way to age wine? How should you store your bottles? How long should you age them? Are those 100 year old bottles still drinkable? All great questions! Now for some answers…

♦ Storing Your Wines

Whether you’re planning on enjoying the bottles you brought back from your trip to the Castello next week, next year, or next decade, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your wine will be perfectly ready to drink when you pop that cork:

  • Store cork sealed bottles on their side. This will help to ensure that the cork stays moist, preventing it from drying out and letting oxygen into the bottle.
  • Store screw cap bottles upright. Since there is no cork, there is no need to store these bottles on their sides.
  • Keep your wines out of direct sunlight. The back seat of your car or your kitchen window are definitely not ideal places to keep your favorite bottle of Castello wine. Light can be damaging to wines, altering their delicate chemical balance and potentially even heating up your wine. This is why the lights you see in our Library Rooms are dim and red, and also why most ageable wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon come in deep green bottles; the color of the bottle helps to prevent light rays from penetrating through the glass.
  • Store your wines at a cooler temperature. Hot wine = cooked wine, which can be a sad sight to see (and a terrible thing to taste). You’ll notice heat damage to your bottles if the cork appears to be popping up from the bottle. Most wines are best kept around 55° Fahrenheit (13° Celsius). Keeping them cooler also helps to slow the aging process. Storing your bottles in a slightly humid environment (60-70% on average) is also helpful for preventing the cork from drying out at the end not in contact with the wine. If you don’t have a wine fridge or cellar, keeping them in a cool place out of direct sunlight, like a closet or a wine rack in the coolest part of your house, should do the trick just fine.

♦ Aging Your Wines

Are a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Pinot Grigio capable of aging the same amount of time? Definitely not. There are certain characteristics of specific grape varietals, as well as how the wines are aged before bottling, that determines a wine’s ageability. The vast majority of wines available in the market today are meant for consumption sooner rather than later. Some, however, absolutely benefit from some quiet time in the cellars.

  • Bold red wines like our Il Barone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and La Castellana Super Tuscan blend are capable of long-term aging, typically up to 15 years from the vintage date on the bottle. This is because these wines have the structure capable of aging due to the tannins imparted from thick skins of the Cabernet grapes as well as the new French oak barrels they’re aged in. As the wine sits in the bottle, these tannin molecules are linking together and falling to the bottom of the bottle as sediment; which is often why so many younger Cabernets tend to pack a bigger “punch” than older vintages (and also why so many older red wines are decanted to remove the sediment). While these wines are fantastic to drink now, they can be even better after laying down for several years, as the structure of the wine smooths out and the tannins are allowed to integrate further.
    • Our 2005 Il Barone was recently awarded 94 Points from Wine Spectator Magazine in a ten year retrospective tasting led by wine critic James Laube, which only helps to prove that those bottles of Castello Cabernet in your cellar are getting even more spectacular with age!
  • Light-bodied white and sweet wines like our Pinot Grigio and La Fantasia are meant for drinking within the first five years from its vintage date. These wines are prized for their bright and crisp qualities; as they age these characteristics tend to fade. So if you’ve been hanging onto that bottle of 2006 La Fantasia, it might be time to pop that bottle before it’s too late!
  • If you’re ever curious about how long to age your favorite bottle of Castello wine, check out our Ageability and Cellaring Chart, which shows the proper time, temperature, and storing positions for our premium and reserve wines.

So whether you’re building your own Tuscan-inspired brick and frescoed underground cellar, or are simply looking to keep your prized Castello wines from cooking in the living room of your apartment, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you’ll be enjoying your favorite bottle at the best time, temperature, and place! Just be sure to drink them before they turn 100!

Time Posted: Jan 18, 2016 at 3:25 PM
Alison Cochrane Hernandez
 

Chardonnay - The Golden Queen of California

It has often been said that if Cabernet Sauvignon is king here in Napa Valley, then Chardonnay is queen. Chardonnay has reigned supreme among white wine grapes in California since the Judgment of Paris in 1976, when Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay trumped the French competition in a blind tasting and helped to put Napa Valley on the map of world-renowned winegrowing regions. Today, there are over 100,000 acres of Chardonnay vineyards planted throughout California, and the varietal remains one of the top white wines consumed by Americans each year.

One of the reasons for Chardonnay’s popularity is the wide variety of styles it can be crafted in, based on where the grapes came from and how the wine was aged. While the majority of Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels, unoaked Chardonnays are rapidly increasing in popularity due to their brighter, fruitier notes, and both aging styles offer a wide range of complexity in the finished wines.

Chardonnay at the Castello

Here at the Castello, we produce two Chardonnays every year from two select cool climate vineyards in California. Our Napa Valley Chardonnay fruit comes from own estate vineyard in the Los Carneros AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the southern end of the Napa Valley, which is meticulously tended to by our Vineyard Manager, David Bejar, who has worked with Dario Sattui and our winemaking team for the past 17 years. Our Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay comes from the iconic family owned vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County, along the Central California Coast. In using these two cool climate vineyards to produce our Chardonnays, we hope to showcase the unique terroir of each region while utilizing both traditional and innovative winemaking techniques.

Our Bien Nacido Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay

All of our Chardonnay is harvested at night in order for the fruit to arrive at the Castello cold, which preserves the its delicate aromatics and natural acidity. Once the fruit gets to the winery, the whole grape clusters are placed into our two pneumatic, or “bladder” presses, which gently presses the juice from the skins and seeds. The juice is then pumped into Burgundian French oak barrels, where it ages for 8-10 months.  We use 50% new and 50% second use French oak barrels on our oak-aged Chardonnays, which provides a balance between showcasing the terroir of the vineyard, acidity and fruit characteristics of the varietal, and the subtle notes of toast and spices that come from each individual barrel.

 
 

Two of our clear-headed oak barrels, which show the wine aging on the lees

After the wine has undergone primary fermentation, which converts the sugars in the juice into alcohol, our winemaking team then selects a specific number of barrels to undergo malolactic, or secondary fermentation. Here, the malic acid in the juice is converted into lactic acid, which gives Chardonnay its signature creamy mouthfeel (think “lactose” like milk). Roughly 40-60% of our Chardonnay barrels undergo malolactic fermentation, depending on the characteristics of the vintage and the acidity levels of each blend.  

La Rocca Chardonnay – A new twist on a classic wine

 

If you have visited the Castello on a guided tour, you may have noticed our concrete fermentation eggs in the Grand Barrel Room, our 12,000 sq ft cross vaulted room three levels underground. We have been using these concrete eggs for the past several years to craft select single vineyard white wines like our Ferrington Vineyard Dry Gewurztraminer and Tyla’s Point Pinot Bianco, and beginning with the 2013 vintage we are also fermenting and aging a select amount of our Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay in one of these eggs. We have named this unique, limited-release wine “La Rocca,” which means “The Fortress” in Italian. The egg shape allows for a natural suspension of the lees (sediment) compared to aging in traditional stainless steel tanks, without imparting any flavors or aromas found in oak barrel aging, and the higher acidity and tropical fruit characteristics of the Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay made this fruit a perfect choice for aging in these unique vessels. 

Cellar Master JoseMaria Delgado sampling our Napa Valley and La Rocca Chardonnays at The Grand Barrel Party

We are excited to make two Chardonnays from this historic vineyard in both French oak and concrete, as these two differing styles help to show the versatility of the varietal as well as the vineyard. Our La Rocca Chardonnay from Bien Nacido Vineyard is released each year to several of our shipping clubs, and we look forward to showing off the versatility of this beautiful Burgundian grape with our trio of California Chardonnays with each vintage!

Time Posted: May 21, 2015 at 11:40 AM
Alison Cochrane Hernandez
 

Castello di Amorosa wins big at this year's San Francisco International Wine Competition

Last month, a panel of 58 judges gathered at the Nikko Hotel in downtown San Francisco to taste their way through a record 4,570 wines from 26 states and 31 countries at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. This was the first year we have entered our wines into this prestigious competition (at which our Director of Winemaking, Brooks Painter, won Winemaker of the Year for our sister winery, V. Sattui last year), and our wines were very well received by the judges. Overall, we received a Best of Class, Double Gold, 4 Gold, 7 Silver, and 3 Bronze medals!

2013 Dry Gewurztraminer - BEST OF CLASS

2010 Il Passito Late Harvest Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc - DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL

2010 Il Barone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - GOLD MEDAL

2010 Napa Valley Sangiovese - GOLD MEDAL

2011 Zingaro - GOLD MEDAL

2013 La Fantasia - GOLD MEDAL

Cheers to our fantastic winemaking team!

Time Posted: Jul 8, 2014 at 2:54 PM
Mary Davidek
 
February 24, 2014 | Mary Davidek

Score!

American Idol, Miss USA, The Olympics, elections, books, dancing, movies, food, wine. From singing competitions to the food we eat and the wine we drink, it is compared and calibrated by a score. What are the parameters used to grant a number or a rating and how reliable are ratings when so much of what we find pleasing, appealing or excellent is purely subjective. For instance, can we look to a score on a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to gauge a wine’s potential for enjoyment when individual tastes vary so widely? Wine is scrutinized, gauged and rated not by peers or consumers but, by 'professionals' who ascribe these ratings as a score intended for submission to the public via magazines, websites, social media etc.

Let’s dissect and analyze a wine score.  What goes into a wine rating?

A wine rating is a score assigned by one or more wine critics for a wine tasted as a summary of that critic's evaluation of that wine. A wine rating is therefore a subjective quality score, typically numerical. Over the last couple of decades, the 50-100 scale introduced by Robert M Parker Jr. has become the standard. This scale is now used by ‘the big 3’, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate.

95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
50-74 Not recommended

In addition to a simple numerical score most wine ratings are meant to be a supplement to the wine tasting notes, which are brief descriptions of the critic's impression of the wine, including aromatics, flavor qualities, and ageing potential or drinking window. However, the emphasis is more often on the score applied by a critic rather than on the actual tasting notes.

Castello di Amorosa wines have been well received by ‘The Big 3’. Parker’s accolades for Il Barone and La Castellana were a huge boon for Castello di Amorosa as one of our first published big ratings. Wine Enthusiast’s critical acclaim for Castello's wines is a source of great pride and most recently, Wine Spectator has granted some very big numbers indeed.

2010 La Castellana: James Laube, Wine Spectator (92 Points) – Intense, with firm, ripe, vibrant cedar, red and dark berry, anise and loamy earth flavors, framed by chewy tannins and ending with a long finish laced with notes of black licorice. Drink now through 2024.

2010 Don Thomas: James Laube, Wine Spectator (94 Points) – Amazingly complex and refined, tuned to a mix of red and dark berry that’s elegant and graceful without sacrificing Cabernet’s power and torque. Ends with classic Bourdeaux-like cedar and cigar box touches, gliding along with fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2028.

In an effort to remain unbiased, educated and in-touch with the amazing wines of Napa Valley we conduct blind tastings throughout the year for our Castello staff to participate in.

A great tasting needs a great room!

We tasted 27 different Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in the Great Hall of Castello di Amorosa--

Here is the line-up....

The bottles were placed in a brown bag and numbered by a non-tasting non-voting participant....

 

                                                ....which guarantees an unbiased result.                                                                     

            

Castello Pres Georg Salzner and Vice President Jim Sullivan enter the results.

The room cheered when the winner was revealed!

Check out more great scores for Castello di Amorosa's wines-

Castello di Amorosa Wine Accolades

 

Time Posted: Feb 24, 2014 at 9:09 PM
Alison Cochrane Hernandez
 
February 5, 2014 | Alison Cochrane Hernandez

Castello wines win big at SF Chronicle Wine Competition!

Results are in from the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and once again Castello di Amorosa’s wines shone brightly among the competition!

This year’s competition included a record number of 5,825 wines entered from over 1,500 wineries from over 25 states, making this the largest competition of wines in America.

We are proud to announce that this year three of our wines received the Best of Class distinction, and we received one Double Gold Medal, six Gold Medals, four Silver Medals, and one Bronze Medal! Here are our winning wines:

2012 Pinot Bianco – BEST OF CLASS

2012 Dry Gewurztraminer – BEST OF CLASS

2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – BEST OF CLASS

2010 Napa Valley Merlot – DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL

2010 “Il Barone” Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – GOLD MEDAL

2009 “La Castellana” Reserve Super Tuscan – GOLD MEDAL

2012 Bien Nacido Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay – GOLD MEDAL

2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay – GOLD MEDAL

2011 “Zingaro” Zinfandel – GOLD MEDAL

2010 Napa Valley Sangiovese – GOLD MEDAL

2012 Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir – SILVER MEDAL

2011 King Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir – SILVER MEDAL

2012 Los Carneros Pinot Noir – SILVER MEDAL

2009 “Il Brigante” Red Blend – SILVER MEDAL

2012 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer – BRONZE MEDAL

You can attend the public tasting event taking place in San Francisco at Fort Mason on Saturday, February 15th, where over 800 wineries will be pouring from 1:30 – 5:00pm. Be sure to find us among the crowd to taste our award winners!

You can check out ticket information and view the full list of winners at www.winejudging.com

Time Posted: Feb 5, 2014 at 2:32 PM
Julie Ann Kodmur
 
May 6, 2013 | Julie Ann Kodmur

93 points from The Wine Enthusiast for the 2008 La Castellana

Castello di Amorosa's 2008 La Castellana Super Tuscan Blend

93 points, The Wine Enthusiast, May 2013

Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a splash of Sangiovese, this super Tuscan-style blend is powerful in every respect. It shows massively concentrated blackberry and crème de cassis flavors, with notes of dark chocolate and spices. The oak is rich and toasty, the tannins thick but as soft as silk, and the acidity lively enough to give all this richness a racy hit. Best enjoyed now and over the next 2–3 years for sheer Napa exuberance.

View Wine Enthusiast's review in their Buying Guide here

Time Posted: May 6, 2013 at 2:59 PM
Jim Sullivan
 
March 13, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Castello di Amorosa Wins Best of Show at American Fine Wine Competition in Florida

Twenty four judges tasted their way through 660 wines from across the country and found Castello di Amorosa’s 2009 Il Passito - a late harvest blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon that sees 20 months in French Oak- the top white wine of the competition.  Gold medals were awarded to the 2008 vintages of Il Barone and La Castellana and the 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay.

“We only enter a couple of wine competitions a year,” said Castello di Amorosa President, Georg Salzner. “We were honored to be invited to this invitation only competition and very pleased with the final results.”

Held at the prestigious Boca Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, the American Fine Wine Competition is rapidly becoming the premier wine competition in the country with an all-star judging panel of recognized professionals as wine educators, wine writers, restaurateurs and sommeliers all with top qualifications in the their field.

It’s tough to win this competition-- 100 percent of the panel of judges must agree that any particular wine is worthy of a Gold Medal.  To win Best of Show, the consensus standards are even greater.

Castello di Amorosa’s award-winning wines will be poured at the American Fine Wine Competition Gala at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida by 50 volunteer Wine Angels.  Five courses will be served with the main course being prepared live on stage by Chef Emeril Lagasse.

Benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute and the Golden Bell Education Foundation, the Lifestyle live auction will be presided over by Alan Kalter announcer for Late Night with David Letterman. The Silent Auction features all 600+ award winning wines each signed by the winemakers themselves.

 

Winery

Year

Wine

Region

BOS

Castello di Amorosa

2009

Il Passito

North Coast

BOC

Ferrante Winery

2010

Golden Bunches

Grand River Valley

BOC

Ledson Winery & Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

BOC

Mumm Napa

2005

DVX

Napa Valley

BOC

Mumm Napa

2009

 

Napa Valley

GG

Chappellet Vineyard & Winery

2010

 

Napa Valley

GG

Sbragia Family Vineyards

2008

Gamble Ranch

Napa Valley

GG

Sterling Vineyards

2008

Reserve

Napa Valley

G

Castello di Amorosa

2009

Bien Nacido Vineyards

Santa Barbara County

G

Castello di Amorosa

2008

Il Barone

Napa Valley

G

Castello di Amorosa

2008

La Castellana

Napa Valley

G

Acacia

2009

Sangiacomo Vineyard

Carneros

G

Ceja Vineyards

2008

 

Carneros

G

Domaine Carneros

2006

Le Reve Blanc de Blancs

Carneros

G

Mi Sueno Winery

2009

 

Los Carneros

G

Grgich Hills Estate

2010

Estate Grown

Napa Valley

G

Hall

2010

 

Napa Valley

G

Honig Vineyard and Winery

2010

 

Napa Valley

G

Miner Family Winery

2008

Wild Yeast

Napa Valley

G

Mumm Napa

NV

Brut Rose

Napa Valley

G

Truchard Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

G

Swanson Vineyards

2007

"Tardif"

Oakville

G

Provenance Vineyards

2010

Estate

Rutherford

S

Artesa (Codorniu)

NV

Estate Reserve

Carneros

S

Clos Pegase

2008

Hommage Artist Reserve

Carneros

S

Patz & Hall

2009

Hyde Vineyard

Carneros

S

Beaulieu Vineyards

2008

Reserve

Los Carneros

S

Bouchaine Vineyards

2010

Bouche D'Or

Los Carneros

S

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

2010

Sofia Blanc de Blancs

Monterey County

S

B CELLARS

2010

BLEND 23

Napa Valley

S

Ballentine Vineyards

2009

Chenin Blanc

Napa Valley

S

Bennett Lane Winery

NV

After Feasting Wine

Napa Valley

S

Cornerstone

2010

Stepping Stone

Napa Valley

S

Frank Family Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

S

John Anthony Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

S

Maldonado Family Vineyards

2008

 

Napa Valley

S

Raymond Vineyards

2009

Reserve Selection

Napa Valley

S

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

2009

Karia

Napa Valley

S

Trefethen Family Vineyards

2009

LH Riesling

Oak Knoll

S

Turnbull Wine Cellars

2010

 

Oakville, Napa Valley

S

Sawyer Cellars

2010

Estate

Rutherford

S

JCB by Jean-Chaarles Boisset

2010

JCB No. 81

Sonoma Coast

B

Schug Carneros Estate Winery

2009

 

Carneros

B

Gustavo Thrace

2010

 

Napa Valley

B

Hess Collection

2010

Allomi

Napa Valley

B

Rutherford Wine Company

2010

 

Napa Valley

B

Keenan Winery

2010

 

Spring Mountain

 

Time Posted: Mar 13, 2012 at 2:30 PM
Jim Sullivan
 
January 8, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Castello di Amorosa wine wins San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Napa Valley's Castello di Amorosa wins San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:

We are pleased to announce that Castello di Amorosa’s 2010 Anderson Valley Late Harvest Gewürztraminer is the Sweepstakes Winner and Best of Class in the Dessert wine category at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world.

Sweepstakes awards were given for Sparkling, White, Pink, Red and Dessert. The 2010 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, the only wine from the Napa Valley to win a Sweepstakes title, was the best of 66 other Dessert wines submitted by wineries from across the U.S.

In addition to the Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, our 2010 Mendocino County Gewürztraminer received a Double Gold and the 2008 Merlot was a Gold Medal winner at this prestigious wine competition.

The 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition set a new American wine competition record with an astounding 5,500 entries, surpassing its previous record of 5,050 last year.

For complete results, see http://www.winejudging.com

The winning treo of Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Dry Gewurztraminer and Napa Valley Merlot.

(Photo: Jim Sullivan, 2012)

Time Posted: Jan 8, 2012 at 2:31 PM
Jim Sullivan
 
February 7, 2010 | Jim Sullivan

Robert Parker loves our wines

Robert Parker, a leading U.S. wine critic with international influence can literally make or break wineries with his judgments. He was in the Napa Valley at the invitation of the Napa Valley Vintners Association and posted the following in his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

2007 Reserve Il Barone 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Parker score: 94

"The brilliant 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Il Barone boasts an opaque purple color as well as a beautiful sweet nose of blackberries, black currants, camphor, subtle toasty oak, and espresso roast. Rich and full-bodied with sweet tannin, a hint of smoked meats, deep fruit, and an impeccable balance, purity and texture, this stunning wine should drink nicely for 15-20 years."

2007 La Castellana Super Tuscan

Robert Parker score: 92

"The 2007 La Castellana is a proprietary blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 6% Sangiovese. An outstanding, hedonistic, complex red, it reveals notes of wild strawberries, new saddle leather, black currants, cherries, cedar, and smoked herbs. Full-bodied, lush, and seductive, this beautifully mouthfilling, supple wine should be enjoyed over the next 7-10 years."

Castello di Amorosa wines are sold only at the winery, directly to the consumer. The 2007 vintages Il Barone and La Castellena Super Tuscan will be released in 2012.

Time Posted: Feb 7, 2010 at 9:45 PM
Jim Sullivan
 
January 29, 2010 | Jim Sullivan

La Fantasia - The Wait is Over

Waiting for more La Fantasia? Well, the wait is finally over; La Fantasia is back in the tasting room and we're so excited we're throwing a party. Wine club members and up to five of their guests are invited to Castello di Amorosa for a complimentary tasting of our wines including, the super-popular and now, "just released," Fantasia. It's at TheCastello (also our Twitter handle) Sunday, January 31, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. 'till 4:00 p.m.

Castello di Amorosa's La Fantasia is an Italian soft-style wine which is lower in alcohol, naturally sweet and refreshing with bright aromas of cherry, exotic flowers and wild berries. It sells out every year, so come by the tasting room to place your order.

Time Posted: Jan 29, 2010 at 9:56 PM
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