During the Harvest season, there are always exciting things going on around the Castello, and today on the Crush Pad was no exception. Today, for the first time at the Castello, our winemaking team reserved a small lot of our Don Thomas Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon for fermentation directly in French Oak Barrels.
Traditionally, the fermentation process takes place in stainless steel tanks, where the must (skins and seeds of the grapes) are cold soaked with the juice before yeast is added. The cap, or layer of skins and seeds that get pushed to the top of the tanks from the activity taking place during fermentation, is broken up by either the punch-down or pump-over method, both of which ensure an even distribution of the color and flavors we wish to impart into our red wines. After five to eight days in these fermentation tanks, the juice is pressed from the skins and seeds and pumped into French Oak barrels for aging in the Castello’s extensive underground cave and cellar system.
Barrel fermentation means that the freshly destemmed grapes and their juices are pumped directly into French Oak barrels whose heads have been removed. Dry ice is added to cool the berries before the barrel heads are secured to seal in the must. The barrels are then laid on a rack that allows them to be rolled back and forth daily to ensure the cap stays moist and the oak is evenly introduced to the fermenting must and juice. Typically, two full barrels of must and juice will amount to one barrel of wine. The process of fermenting the juice in oak barrels helps to impart an added silkiness to the tannins and a rounder, more lush mouthfeel, especially to Bordeaux varietals. This extremely labor-intensive method of fermentation is typically reserved for only the most exclusive of wines, and the highly-acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon from the Don Thomas Vineyard is an exceptional example of the quality of grapes deserving of such treatment.
The Don Thomas Cabernet Sauvinon clusters are conveyed into the berry sorter/ destemmer as a lucky tour group watches
The new French Oak barrels are filled directly from the destemmer
Our Cellar Supervisor, Chema, overseeing the juice and must being pumped into a special French Oak barrel that has a door in place to make filling and emptying easier
The deconstructed barrel waiting to be resealed with the juice and must inside
Dry ice is added to the must before the barrels are resealed to help cool off the berries
Resealing the barrel heads before they are sent into the cellars to begin the fermentation process
The barrels are stored in a special temperature-controlled room in the Castello's cellars during the fermentation process.
We hosted our annual Midsummer Medieval Festival on June 22 this year, and our guests (and staff) had a fantastic evening filled with wine, food, and a whole array of medieval games and entertainments. Please enjoy a few of our favorite moments from the event below, and we're looking forward to next year's festival already!
It was a perfect June day in the Napa Valley as our guests arrived for a glass of wine on our Il Passito patio before the Joust
Our president, Georg Salzner, graciously welcomed our wine club members and their guests to the festivities (and even found a fair maiden whose costume matched his!)
A few of our guests in their medieval finery welcoming the knights to the Joust!
Sir William and his companions, our noble knights of the Joust
Everyone eagerly awaiting the start of the Tournament
A fair guest was invited to challenge one of the knights, whom she soundly defeated in battle
He graciously gave her a rose in thanks for not being too rough on him
The knights displayed their skill on horseback in a number of Tournament events
The highlight of the evening: the Joust!
Noble Lords and Ladies of the Tournament
Our guests were enjoying the chance to be noble (and not-so-noble)
A talented troupe of singers entertained as our guests learned the "latest" dance steps
Fire Dancers mesmerized the audience with a spectacular evening finale in the Courtyard
Even the Supermoon made an appearance above the Castello as the festivities drew to a close.
Want to see even more pictures from this great event?
Recently, Jeff of "Stay Rad Wine Blog" came "back to the Castle" to review our 2012 Mendocino County Pinot Grigio, pairing it with a scrumptious looking Mac n' Cheese. Here's what he had to say:
"Color: Very pale yellow. Think of the color of hay.
"Nose: Massive amounts of honeysuckle (maybe due to the 3.8 g/L of residual sugar) create a nice backdrop for the green apple and honeydew fruits. The nose isn’t overly sweet. There are plenty of wet rocks to balance everything out.
"Taste: There is a surprisingly nice petrol note to this wine which provides for a very fun, viscous mouthfeel. As with most Pinot Grigios, there is a brightly acidic backbone to this wine that delivers a variety of citrus fruit flavors of lemon and lime zest. There is a nice combination of honey and minerality at play here too.
"Score: I get it. Castello di Amorosa makes wines consisting of mainly Italian varieties of grapes, and no self-respecting “Italian” winery would ever label a bottle as “Pinot Gris”, but… This is not one of those ordinary, 20-dollar, flat-lemon-lime-soda-tasting, Italian Pinot Grigios that have been taking over your local super market in recent years. This drinks like one of those rich, subtle, and intriguing Oregonian Pinot Gris that I have been grooving on in recent months. Stylistically, these guys have done everything right with the grape they call the “Grey Pine”. At 87+ points, you may want to introduce this Pinot Grigio to your favorite housewife."
Check out the rest of his review on his blog here, and be sure to scroll down to see his fantastic comments about our 2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir as well!
Recently, Joe and Matt of Thumbs Up Wine paid a visit to the Castello, and had a blast making this fantastic video. It's THE CASTLE!
Matt and Joe from Thumbs Up Wine
"If you're coming to the Napa Valley either for a day or for a week, there are certain things you have to see. We call them the Seven Wonders of the World, and this is one of them: THE CASTLE!" - Joe, Thumbs Up Wine
Toasting our Il Barone with Dario
The Thumbs Up Crew with Dario
Thank you Matt and Joe for such a great review of the Castello! We're looking forward to your next visit!
On Saturday, April 20th, New Orleans came to the Castello for our Ragin' Cajun party. As the sun went down, the beads and beats came out, and the Castello was transformed into a sizzling scene full of live music, tarot readings, and hot and spicy Cajun foods paired with our Castello wines!
The main event featured Gator Beat, a high-energy Zydeco and New Orleans R&B band based out of Sonoma. They kept the Cajun beats going throughout the evening out in our courtyard, where guests dressed in their best Creole "style" danced the night away.
In all I'd say it was a "ragin'" success, but you can see for yourself in the photos below!
You know it's going to be a great night when Fantasia is flowing!
Gator Beat getting the party started out in the courtyard.
A few of our favorite Wine Club members with the Voodoo King.
Guests enjoying some of the delicious Cajun cuisine (and Castello wines!) in our Great Hall.
So many good things in one pot!
All of the delicious Creole cuisine at the party was provided for our guests by Oak Avenue Catering. Ca c'est bon!
Way to rock that New Orleans style!
The featured cocktail of the evening was the "Hurricane di Amorosa," a tantalizingly effervescent mix of our Fantasia with orange sorbet. Santé!
Who wants to hear their future? Tarot card readings in the chapel.
Feelin' the love!
Ragin' Cajun Ladies
Willard Blackwell on washboard keeping the Zydeco beats bumping through the night.
Out on the dance floor. Laissez les bon temps roulet!
Il Barone himself, Dario Sattui, made an appearance later on in the evening.
Our wonderful events team celebrating the fruits of their labors. Merci boucoups for throwing such a great party!
Another fantastic Wine Club event at the Castello. We're looking forward to next year already!