Wine of the Week: Castello di Amorosa 2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay
This is a crowd-pleaser of a chardonnay. It has nice aromas of vanilla and toffee along with flavors of red apple, pear and spice, which will appeal to lovers of oak-influenced chardonnays. Yet the wine is not over-oaked. It is balanced with a freshness that allows fans of crisper white wines to appreciate it as well. With this chardonnay ($28), you won’t need to stress over which style to choose for your next dinner party.
Not only does Castello di Amorosa’s winemaker, Brooks Painter, continue to roll out beautiful wines, but the winery’s schedule is jam-packed with fun events. Next weekend there is the Ragin’ Cajun Party followed by a Midsummer Medieval Festival, and then Hot Havana Nights — among many others. It is likely you will find something intriguing!
You can read the full article in the Napa Valley Register here
Enofylz came to visit and chose the 2009 Sangiovese as Wine of the Week. With our thanks…here’s an excerpt of the review, with more at the link below:
The fruit for this wine is primarily from the Castello di Amorosa estate. In addition to Sangiovese, this wine also includes a bit of Merlot. Carmine color with cherry, mushroom. and dried rose petal aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a smooth texture and sour cherry, strawberry, vanilla flavors with a savory undertone and a lengthy finish.
Rating: A- (90pts): I really enjoyed this wine. It has a nice balance of fruit, oak and earthiness.
Pair with: I enjoyed this wine with lasagna (if it grows together, it goes together after all;-), but don’t limit your pairings to pizza and red-sauced pasta. Pair with caprese salad with fresh basil, Italian bread soup, wild mushroom risotto, rustic paella, grilled fare, and a variety of cheeses. For example consider pairing with mild blue-veined cheeses like Gorgonzola or Cambozola.
You can read the full review by Enofylz here
With our thanks to Terroirist for reviewing the 2008 La Castellana:
91 points: Intoxicating aromas of wild raspberries, sweet plums, some violets, fig paste and cedar. Fresh red and black fruits start off the palate, raspberry, plum, fig, even some notes of dried apricot. Flavors of soil, coffee, cedar and hazelnut add complexity. The tannins have smooth edges, making this easy to drink now, although I think it could be cellared for five years easily. The acid lingers onto the finish along subtle notes of vanilla bean and toast. A fruit-forward yet elegant blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 16% Sangiovese. Simply delicious
See the Blog here
Our thanks to SipSwirlSavor for reviewing our Sangiovese:
A sensible Sangiovese from the Napa Valley
Italian grape varieties are fairly uncommon in the Napa Valley. That being said, the few Napa Sangioveses I've had in the past have tasted less like their Italian counterpart and more like a Napa Cabernet. Which made me wonder why a Napa winery would even bother making anything besides Cab. And yet, Castello di Amorosa has committed itself to producing Italian-style wines from Napa-grown grapes.
Charmed by the architecture and the chickens roaming the landscape, I felt transported to Tuscany when I visited the Castle in Calistoga for a brief tasting in 2010. Since then, the winery has hired a new consulting winemaker and the vineyards have matured in ways that do the Tuscan varieties justice.
I recently opened a bottle of the 2009 Castello di Amorosa Napa Valley Sangiovese. Upon my initial quaff, the wine was tight and restrained. I poured a little more through a WineSoiree and swirled it around in the glass while my eggplant parmesan warmed up in the oven. It wasn't long before this wine started singing a beautiful tune.
The perfume of rose petal, dried herbs and red cherry hits a very similar note to that of Chianti Classico. On the palate, notes of cranberry and currant shine alongside excellent acidity and dusty tannins. Despite it's Calistoga birthright, this wine definitely has an Old World sensibility.
The wine’s high acid was the perfect match for the tomato sauce with my eggplant parmesan. It was a delightful pairing that continued to get better as the wine continued to flourish. By the end of my meal (and my second glass of wine), sweet aromas of black cherry and ripe plum dominated the nose of this medium-bodied Sangio. Rhubarb and cocoa became more pronounced on the palate, and the finish lingered with juicy cherry and spicy vanilla.
WineWiseWeb reviewed three of our 2011 Gewurztraminers: “…a trio of beautifully made 2011 Gewurztraminers from Dario Sattui’s dream winery in Calistoga. Winemaker Brooks Painter shows his deft hand with the variety with three different styles…Gewurz brings different varietal characteristics forward at different sugar levels. Each of these wines delivers excellent quality and complexity of aroma and flavor….
Read all of the reviews here:
Our thanks to Enofylz for choosing the 2008 La Castellana as his Wine of the Week:
Here’s a taste of his review:
“Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out. For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2008 Castello di Amorosa La Castellana. Opaque dark garnet color with aromatic dark red fruits, toasted oak,and spiced tobacco aromas. On the palate, it’s voluptuous and smooth with well-integrated soft dusty tannins, good balance, and blackberry, plum, bittersweet chocolate, and spiced vanilla flavors. Long finish. Rating: A- (91pts). Pair with: Hearty fare such as grilled steak, sausages, Venison Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Shepherd’s Pie, Braised Lamb Shanks, Veal Parmesan or Rigatoni with a wild boar ragú.”
And there’s more: http://enofylzwineblog.com/2013/03/28/wine-of-the-week-castello-di-amorosa-2008-la-castellana/
Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena and Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, has pledged $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga for its future construction of a permanent Club facility in Calistoga.
Listen to Dario's interview on KGO 810:
“I am really proud to make this small contribution to the future of our community, and believe this will make a positive impact. Let’s hope the Club can raise the rest of the money quickly and open the new Club, “said Sattui.
Dario Sattui with the Board of Directors and Staff of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga
“This is a landmark moment for our organization,” commented Club Executive Director Jay Templeton. “Mr. Sattui’s magnificent lead gift provides us the framework to begin focused discussions of our Calistoga project. The Boys & Girls Clubs and Mr. Sattui share the same values of respect for the environment, and the importance of agriculture, nutrition, exercise, academics, entrepreneurship, technology skills and guidance in preparing today’s youth to be productive 21st century citizens.”
Currently the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga operates an after-school program located at the Calistoga Elementary School on Berry Street. In 2012, registered youth membership at that site was 395 with an average daily attendance of 129. The Club also operates a Teen Center located in the city’s Monhoff Center on Grant Street adjacent to the Calistoga Junior-Senior High School.
“For some time, the Board of Directors has discussed a Calistoga project,” said Templeton. “Our St. Helena facility was opened in January of 2008 following a successful capital campaign. The next vision has been to establish a permanent facility in Calistoga through community fundraising.”
On April 26th, the Board of Directors will hold a Board retreat specifically to discuss the Club’s Calistoga future, including discussions on a potential location, cost, size, fundraising and timing. “We hope to come out of that day with basic direction and to set the course for a new Boys & Girls Club building in Calistoga,” remarked Templeton.
Sattui will attend the Club’s Board of Directors meeting at noon on March 20th to present two $500,000 checks. Each of his local businesses, V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa are contributing jointly.
The Sattui donation is the second lead gift received for the future Calistoga project. In November of 2012, the DeLong-Sweet Family Foundation made the first contribution, a $250,000 pledge arranged by Calistoga residents Paul and Pamela Ingalls. The Boys & Girls Club hopes these early donations are an indication of the support it will have and need in order to complete the Calistoga capital campaign and the construction project.
The children of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga with Dario Sattui and staff.
Noted Board of Directors President, Kathleen Herdell, “We are thrilled by the generosity of Dario, Paul and Pamela. Their contributions will touch the lives of Up-Valley children for generations to come. ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t adequately capture the gratitude we feel for these visionaries and role models. They are helping to give the kids a safe and positive place to be after school and all summer long. Having watched the excited faces of kids as they enter the St. Helena Clubhouse, I can’t wait to give the Calistoga children that same experience.”
This is the time of year when winemakers and vineyard managers start paying close attention to weather patterns. Although long periods of extreme cold and sub-freezing temperatures can always cause distress in a vineyard; frost is particularly damaging in the early spring. Once bud break occurs, spring frosts can kill the young shoots potentially destroying a crop. If you visit wine country in early spring you may spot a few different methods utilized by vintners in attempts to combat frost damage. Most preventative measures are expensive and vary in effectiveness, but, the financial loss of frost damage is extreme.
The least utilized and possibly least effective is burning oil in a smudge pot. The smoke and heat generated is hopefully carried over the vineyard by the wind forming a warmer protective blanket. As the heavier cold air sinks, the warm blanket of air protects the shoots.
A solution that seems just as drastic but that has actually proven viable in some vineyard locales; spraying the vines with a fine mist of water. As the water freezes it forms a protective layer of ice insulating the young shoots by trapping the heat, (think of an igloo or an ice cave). Since Napa Valley’s Mediterranean climate doesn’t generally dip below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, this method shows promise as it is environmentally less invasive and more economically viable. A negative for using water is fairly obvious but worth noting: you are using water, which can be scarce or completely unavailable in remote vineyards.
The most common and visually the most obvious method in use can be viewed off Highway 29 and along the Silverado Trail. What looks like windmills are actually wind machines, which move air over vineyards to keep the coldest air from settling on vulnerable, young shoots. The heavier cold air mixes with the warmer air, being moved by the wind machine, creating a slight elevation in temperature which is often just enough to ward off frost as long as that temperature is above 28 degrees Fahrenheit. However, I live close to one such wind machine and I see it as only partially effective. While it prevents frost from developing in areas directly in the path of said turbulence, my personal observation is the outlying areas are often blanketed with frost. Another fact to consider…..wind machines are essentially propellers that run on fuel so they can be expensive to run and the noise level can be extreme – especially in the wee hours of the morning when they are typically used. *yawn*
Does a foolproof solution exist? Well, if you have an opportunity when driving in the valley, look to the hills. It is rare to find any method of frost control on sloped vineyard sites. Dense cold air naturally drains off the hillsides and settles onto the valley floor quite often rendering the hillsides unaffected by frost.
In this north end of the Napa Valley we are fortunate. With the Mayacamas Mountains to the West and the Vaca Mountains to the East, some of the most prestigious viticultural land in the world has been created. Castello di Amorosa’s Il Barone and La Castellana wines are crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards on Diamond Mountain, part of the famed Mayacamas range; above the fog line, drenched in sunshine and relatively unharmed by frost.
As we continue to progress in viticulture methodology one fact holds true – Mother Nature will always have the final word.
And with that my final word – Cheers!
Mary Davidek C.S., C.S.W.
In the last submission I covered the basics of getting your wine to the restaurant. Now, for the dedicated corkage seekers……..let’s continue.
Take care of the waitstaff. Many experienced servers see a bottle carried in and mark you as a diner who is…….well……thrifty. I prefer to call it savvy. And when addressing the monetary side of it, I usually MYOB but regarding BYOB; I can’t hold back. If service warrants a generous gratuity, include an additional percentage for the server to off-set their loss of a potential wine sale. I usually include an extra 5%. In a more intimate dining setting I offer the server, or chef, or other interested staff a small sample of the wine. If you frequent a particular restaurant, develop a rapport with your favorite server. A big bonus, many times the published corkage fee disappears.
When possible I patronize restaurants with lenient BYOB practices or those that do not charge corkage…..EVER! Be on the lookout for specials or promotions. One of our favorite Napa spots offers “No Corkage Mondays”. Some wineries have partnered with local restaurants who offer complimentary corkage if you bring in a bottle purchased at the referring winery. Castello di Amorosa has a list of at least 20 restaurants in the valley that are happy to open a bottle of Castle wine at no charge. And kudos to Restaurant Cuvée in Napa and Farmstead in St. Helena, CA; a small corkage fee is charged and donated to charity. Bravo!
Become active on sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor to give feedback and accolades. Wine forums are also a great place to turn. Check out WineSpectator.com, VinoCellar.com and RobertParker.com; you will find lively and well-informed participants as well as updated BYOB info.
As previously mentioned, there has never been a better time to dine out with wine as more restaurants and chefs are embracing BYOB diners. States that had prohibited BYOB in the past are now loosening laws and restrictions. Establishments that at one time discouraged corkage enthusiasts are now recognizing the valuable business this clientele provides.
Happy dining –
Mary Davidek C.S., C.S.W
BYOB = Bring Your Own Bottle
Corkage Fee = the fee charged to open and serve a bottle of wine not purchased at the dining establishment
Every restaurant has restrictions and specifications which are said to cover the cost of opening a bottle, providing stemware, and serving the wine. Realistically, a corkage fee is charged to cover lost revenue. I am unabashedly a self-professed BYOB junkie; a dedicated corkage hound ……and I go to extremes in my pursuit. Here are a few situations I have encountered and simple resolutions which may help in your quest.
1. Call the restaurant or check their website prior to your reservation as fees and restrictions vary. Some restaurants may impose a 1-bottle limit and others may have more tempting ways to capture your attention. A growing trend; restaurants charge a fee but will comp it one for one, for every bottle purchased. For example, restaurant “X” charged $25 corkage. I brought in a bottle of Castello di Amorosa Cabernet Sauvignon. From the restaurant wine list I selected a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy with apps. I love a zippy Sauvignon Blanc with bruschetta and goat cheese on a warm baguette; sublime. The bottle I purchased was $28. That’s right, the corkage fee for my Castello di Amorosa bottle was waived. This is clearly a win-win. Typically I bring in a red and purchase a white from the list as even the grandest wine menu offers a tasty and affordable white wine.
2. A common and reasonable request; the bottle you bring in cannot be available for purchase on the existing wine list. To ensure your selection for carry-in is acceptable, browse the wine list on-line or request a fax or emailed copy prior to your planned visit. Here is my fool-proof solution. Bring in wine from a winery that does not distribute. This is becoming easier as more small and mid-sized wineries are opting for direct-to –consumer sales only. Castello di Amorosa wines have been a fixture on my restaurant outings for this very reason. Restaurant wine lists change weekly and this takes the guess work out of it.
3. Prepare your bottles. If you want a chilled bottle of bubbly with your Dungeness crab; chill it. If you are bringing a Napa Cab with a little age on it, stand it up for a few hours prior to leaving which allows sediment to collect at the bottom.
4. I have seen bottles transported in everything from a paper shopping tote to a plastic grocery bag. My advice; invest in a respectable wine carrier. From leather totes to canvas carrying bags to decorative wine boxes – your wine should travel in style.
Good news for us food and wine lovers, corkage and BYOB is becoming an accepted standard. Restaurant owners are adopting more favorable corkage policies as a marketing tool.
Stay tuned……Part 2 coming up.
Mary Davidek C. S. , C.S.W.