Leading international wine critic, Robert Parker was back in the Napa Valley recently at the invitation of the Napa Valley Vintners Association to taste and rate Napa Valley wines. Castello di Amorosa wasted no time in sharing our best 2008 wines (not yet released in the tasting room), including a barrel sample of the 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The results, published in his influential, "Wine Advocate" journal, proved Mr. Parker continues to like our wines and reflected it in his scores, rating each wine 90 points or greater for the second consecutive year.
The comments, or tasting notes, that accompany the scores are very important, perhaps even more important than the score itself. "The written commentary that accompanies the ratings is a better source of information regarding the wine's style and personality, its relative quality vis-a-vis its peers, and its value and aging potential than any score could ever indicate," states Parker in the "Wine Advocate."
The results of his tasting of Napa Valley wines were published in Wine Advocate #192, December, 2010. Il Barone receive a rating of 92 points. In his written commentary, he noted, " The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Il Barone (91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot) is a selection of the estate's finest lots of Cabernet Sauvignon. Graphite, creme de cassis, black currant and spice box aromas jump from the glass of this opaque ruby/purple-colored 2008. Expansive, rich, authoritative and elegant, with impressive texture and length as well as sweet tannin, it will be even better in 3-4 years, and should last for 15+."
The 2008 La Castellana Super Tuscan Blend received a similar outstanding review and a 90 point score. He wrote, "The 2008 La Castellana (71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 14% Sangiovese) is a supple-textured, dense plum/ruby/purple-tinged wine offering notes of high class, unsmoked tobacco, sweet cherries, black currants, earth and spice. Medium to full-bodied, silky textured, complex and already delicious, it is ideal for drinking over the next 7-8 years."
Looking to the future, we submitted a barrel sample of 2009 Il Barone and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley knowing full well these wines would not be receiving a score. Nonetheless, we were interested in what Mr. Parker thought about some of our best barrels of wine as selected by Dario Sattui, Brooks Painter, Winemaker; Assistant Winemaker, Peter Velleno, and President, Georg Salzner. Knowing the importance of his recent commentary, we are extremely excited about wines that will be not released in for another 2-3 years. Parker stated,"Barrel samples of the 2009 Il Barone and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley revealed well-endowed, deeply colored wines with sweet tannins. They both possessed all the components needed to be as good as their 2008 and 2007 counterparts, but it's too early to pass judgment."
2007 La Castellana and Il Barone, available for purchase in the tasting room or on our website.
While the 2008 wines are not yet released, we are pleased to offer the 2007 Il Barone, 94 points, and La Castellana, 92 points in the Il Passito Room, our reserve wine tasting and wine club member room. Situated above the Courtyard, the Il Passito Room offers comfortable leather seating in which to enjoy our award-winning wines.
It was good times for friends and family at Castello di Amorosa as Amici del Barone Wine Club members and their invited guests enjoyed some good old fashioned Holiday Season cheer.
After traveling through the stunning Napa Valley, guests were greeted in the Castello's frescoe-adorned Great Hall with a glass of elegant Castello di Amorosa Cabernet Sauvignon.
Castello di Amorosa's, Thelma Garcia pours 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.
The stars came out to play. This is 2006 Il Barone Cabernet Sauvignon, a great Castle wine; it's 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and Dario Sattui's favorite wine.
The Castello's very own, Lance Selmin, a former baker felt right at home at the Outdoor Oven cooking fresh flat bread for the guests. With garlic, rosemary and an olive oil produced from the Castello's 100 year old olive trees, this bread was a perfect pairing for the newly-released 2007 Sangiovese Napa Valley.
This is one hot oven!
The Royal Apartment was home to our finest reserve reds, La Castellana, the Super Tuscan Blend and Il Barone.
A vertical selection of Il Barone 2003 - 2008, a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was their first return visit to the Castello since recently joining the Wine Club.
From the top left, Sandra Witmer, Arlene Greener, Chrystal Acker, Kelly McDonald.
Next stop, the Il Passito Reserve and Club Room.
Rene Lawrence and Frank Mesta smiling for the camera in the Il Passito Room.
Mike Ochoa, Annette Hagen brought Randy and Kristy Gresh (originally from North Dakota) to the party.
Gailyn and Neil Riley came to Castello di Amorosa and heard we about our New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball so they asked, "How can we ring in the New Year here at the Castle?" They quickly joined the Wine Club and now they'll be here to help celebrate 2011.
Utilizing grapes sourced from Bien Nacido Vineyards in Santa Barbara county, Castello di Amorosa Winemakers, Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno crafted an elegant Chardonnay worthy of 92 points in a recent edition of Wine Spectator.
American wine critic with particular expertise on California wines, Wine Spectator's, James Laube, commented, "A real treat in exotic Chardonnay. Firm, rich and creamy, with a mix of tropical fruit flavors built around guava, pineapple, fig and melon. Full-bodied, with spicy oak and a long, lingering finish. Drink now through 2017."
The 2007 vintage of this wine was Double Gold, Best of Class in Chardonnay at the 2010 American Fine Wine Competition in Florida and besting over 50 other Chardonnay's from around the country. Painter and Velleno will submit the 2008 vintage to Florida to defend it's well-earned title as one of the top Chardonnay's in America.
It's great paired with rich herb-roasted chicken and rich seafood dishes. Thinking of BBQing salmon? Aged in oak and full bodied this Chardonnay made at Napa Valley winery, Castello di Amorosa, is silky and mouth-filling and our recommended pairing for the bbq salmon all year round.
Castello di Amorosa joins world-class Calistoga wineries for the 2010 Winter in the Wineries passport weekend held December 3, 2010 through February 6, 2011. All you will need to participate is a Winter in the Wineries passport; they're only $50 and it will provide you access to participating wineries where you'll taste great Napa Valley wines this winter.
With a bountiful harvest now completed, our focus now turns to relaxing and enjoying the fruits of our efforts. Make Castello di Amorosa your first stop as you taste great wines from some great wineries including Chateau Montelena, Sterling Vineyards, Bennett Lane Winery, Clos Pegase, Envy Wines, Lava Vine Winery, Madrigal Vineyards, Rios Wine Company, Summers Estate Wines, T-Vine Cellars, Twomey Cellars, Vermeil Wines and Von Strasser Winery.
Here's how it works. Purchase your passport by calling 707-967-6274; it's one (1) passport per person required (no split tastings). Visit each winery once during the program period.
With a variety of wineries participating, we suggest you come back often. Enjoy the cool days of winter while you're wine tasting and treat yourself to world famous hot springs, shopping in downtown Calistoga or dining in one of the local restaurants. That's plenty for one day so bring your family and check out the many hotels and B&B's in Calistoga.
Calistoga's Winter in the Wineries- 12/3/10 -- 2/6/11
Passports are on sale now! Call 707-967-6274
The Amici Del Barone, Castello di Amorosa's Wine club gathered to celebrate the fruits of the harvest. It is common that celebrations at the Castello often take on a life of their own and last Saturday's Festa del 'Uva was no exception.
While the Grape Stomp Competition was the featured event of the evening, there was plenty more to see including demonstrations featuring cooperage, hand-waxing of Il Barone bottles and cork manufacturing demonstrations by Scott Webster of Portocork. The entire Castello was open and alive with celebration.
Wine club members came from as far away as Hawaii to the Festa to eat the great food, drink great wine and stomp the heck out of some real nice Napa Valley grapes. Teams were formed with names like, FOTY, Nutmeg Alohas, Grape Nuts, Janie's Jumpers, First Crush, Oceans 11, The Grapes of Wrath, Just Juicin', The Grape Ape, The Big Squeeze, Buffalo Warriors, Purple Grape, Grape Crush, Team Squeeze-a-lot, Grape Gatsby's and Polish Power.
A picture is worth a thousand words so please enjoy the photo montage below.
The Grape Stomp Competition
First, grab as many grapes as you can and put them in huge baskets!
And then dump the Napa Valley grapes into the destemmer... carefully.
Hey, watch your head. And turn that crank, fast.
For most it was all about stomping the grapes, and for others, well....
Stomp, stomp, stomp and keep stomping.
Smiling, stomping, laughing, smiling, stomping... I think you get it.
Some stomped so hard, they lost their shirt, so to speak.
When you're done stomping, pour the Napa Valley grape juice into a bottle.
And look out for this team; obviously, they've done this before! Look at those beautiful faces of experience and the power in them legs!
However, the team with the most juice- the Grape Nuts pictured with Castello di Amorosa owner, Dario Sattui.
Hungry? How about some pizza from the Outdoor Oven
Shannon Kelly of Knickerbockers' catering putting the finishing touches on the pizza. http://www.knickerbockerscatering.com
Making a French Oak Barrel by Nadalie Cooperage
It takes great skill to make a French Oak barrel. http://www.nadalie.com/
And the perfect amount of heat provides the toast necessary to make great Castello di Amorosa wines.
Scott Webster of Portocork demonstrating the origin of cork. http://www.portocork.com/
The Torture Chamber -- Il Barone 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolate
Castello di Amorosa's Il Barone was poured in the Torture Chamber that featured chocolate- tons of it. It was affectionately know as "Death by Chocolate" although no one actually died.
You see, she survived "Death by Chocolate."
One of favorite comments on the Castello di Amorosa Facebook page summarized it best:
"It was the best thing you could do, with clothes on. My thanks to Dario and all the great staff at the castle."
Veraison, or "the onset of ripening," is the time of year in the vineyards when those hard green grape berries we've been watching for weeks begin changing color and softening. It's natures producing a beautiful display of color in the vineyard as she delicately ripens the grapes. Once veraison sets, expect about six weeks until harvest begins.
The 2010 growing season started slightly wetter and cooler. March and April saw significantly lower average temperatures, a trend that continued well into May. June finished near historical averages. And in July, a pattern of onshore flows resulted in cool, foggy mornings in the Napa Valley. Due to continued cooler weather, it looks like harvest will be slightly later than previous years.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Castello di Amorosa vineyards.
Expect about six weeks until the start of Harvest of 2010. A perfect time to enjoy Napa Valley.
Pruning the Primitivo block at Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley.
Bien Nacido Vineyards chosen "Vineyard of the Year" by California State Fair.
In January of 2010, Castello di Amorosa's 2007 Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay was awarded Double Gold, Best of Class at the American Fine Wine Competition in Florida; it was the top Chardonnay of over 50 Chardonnay producers from around the U.S.
And now comes confirmation of the quality of the grapes that comes from this historic, vineyard-- Bien Nacido Vineyards of Santa Maria -- it won a the prestigious "California Vineyard of the Year" at this year's California State Fair. This award recognizes a California vineyard which has consistently - over several growing seasons - produced grapes that have contributed directly to wine of superior quality and marketability within commercial sales systems and among fine wine judges.
Congratulations Bien Nacido Vineyards.
Fog descends on Bien Nacido Vineyards near Santa Maria, California (Photo courtesy of Bien Nacido Vineyards)
The cast of Young Frankenstein in the tasting room at Castello di Amorosa. (Photo: Jim Sullivan)
The cast of the highly-acclaimed, hit Broadway Musical, "The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein, The Musical," were in the Napa Valley and dropped by the Castello recently for a tour and tasting during one of their rare days off. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Elizabeth, Inga, The Monster, Frau Blucher, Inspector Kemp, Igor, Villagers and Ensemble- they were all here and in rare form.
Based on Mel Brooks comedy masterpiece, the story follows bright, young Dr. Frankenstein (that's Dr. Fronkensteen) as he attempts to complete his grandfather's masterwork and bring a corpse to life. (Now I see why we spent so much time in the Castello's Torture Chamber!) Together with his oddly-shaped and endearing helper Igor (that's Eye-gor), his curvaceous lab assistant, Inga and in spite of his incredibly self-involved madcap fianc, Elizabeth, Frankenstein succeeds in creating a monster-- but not without scary, and quite often hilarious complications.
There were no scary complications, no real monsters and, heavens, no corpse when they toured here. Just plenty of comedy. And I mean plenty.
Click on the link below to purchase ticket to the show and watch the video which includes Mel Brooks.
To purchase ticket and view the video
Let the games begin. The Midsummer Festival at Lake Mario.
Jousting, falconry, archery, bocce and wine at the Midsummer Festival.
Merrymaking in the Castello's Courtyard where the games continue and...
... the feast begins. Seating is available at this premiere Castello di Amorosa
Amici del Barone wine-club event. Not a wine club member? Not a problem.
Come to the event and sign up for the club on the spot.