Napa’s Castello di Amorosa Spreads its Wings

This Napa-based family winery was opened in April 2007 by owner Dario Sattui.  It operates from an authentically built castle and winery situated in the hills just south of the city of Calistoga.  On our visit to the Castello a few years ago,  Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking, showed us the winery’s full portfolio of wines.  Since that time the Castello’s offerings have increased and several new vineyards have been added to the estate.  We’re most impressed with the new Pinot Noir offerings, some of which we wrote about in our recently published report on The Wines of the Anderson Valley.

Winemakers Peter Velleno and Brooks Painter

Our favorite wine in this tasting is the 2017 Morning Dew Pinot Noir, which we previously reviewed in our report on the Anderson Valley. In November 2015, the Castello acquired the historic and prestigious 12-acre vineyard Morning Dew Ranch in Anderson Valley from Williams Selyem’s founder Burt Williams.  Located just north of the town of Philo, Morning Dew Ranch adds to the Castello’s other Anderson Valley property, a 34-acre vineyard south of Boonsville. The 2017 Pinot Noir Morning Dew Ranch is the first release of this wine.

Several other wines not previously reviewed are included in this tasting—Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and the Bordeaux blend La Castellana. The wines were made by Peter Velleno and Brooks Painter, and they are very good.  The wines are only sold on-line and at the winery.

White Wines

Castello di Amorosa 2017 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Barbara County ($39) 91 This is a well made, California-style Chardonnay from one of California’s iconic vineyards. It’s fruit rich, creamy in texture, and packed with flavor. Very fragrant with hints of yellow fruit, honeysuckle, and marzipan. Creamy smooth on the attack, the palate reveals mango, lemon curd, and crème brulee with notes of toasty oak. Finishes very long and rich with good fruit-acid balance. Fermented and aged on the lees 10 months in 50% new French oak with 50% malo. 14.1% alc.

Castello di Amorosa 2018 Chardonnay Reserve Napa Valley ($59) 93 Ripe orchard fruit, toasted grain, and flinty minerals show on the nose of this classic Napa Valley Chardonnay. The palate shows good focus, a firm backbone, and rich flavors of poached pear, roast nuts, and tart tatin all complemented by lively acidity. 75% goes through malo; 12 months on the lees in 100% new French oak. 14.7% alc

Castello di Amorosa 2018 Gewurztraminer Dry Anderson Valley ($29) 94  A gorgeous fragrant wine rich in aromas of rose petals, spice and tropical fruit . It reveals excellent structure and balance, a focused palate of pure fruit flavors and a long persistent finish. A magnificent wine that shows how well Gewurztraminer does in the Anderson Valley.  14.4% alc

Castello di Amorosa 2014 Il Passito Reserve Napa Valley ($89/500ml) 93 Although Il Passito carries an Italian name, it’s more inspired by Botrytis-affected French Sauternes than it is straw dried Italian sweet wines. Like Sauternes, it has been touched by Botrytis, and it’s a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is heavenly with aromas of vanilla bean, apricot jam and toasted almonds and an unctuous texture. The palate evokes a liquid floral perfume with enticing hints of orange blossom honey, ripe stone fruit, and a Botrytis marshmallow note.  Outstanding sugar-acid tension. A blend of late harvested 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc affected by Botrytis cinereal aged 20 months in French oak barrels. RS 127 g/L; 13.6% alc

Red Wines

Castello di Amorosa 2017 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley ($55) 91  The 2017 Castello de Amorosa displays a dark ruby color and offers aromas of ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit. On the palate it reveals a soft round mouth feel resulting from 11 months of sur lie barrel aging in French oak. The wine has medium acidity and sweet oak nuances on a long finish. Sourced from Castello de Amorosa’s 34 acre estate vineyard south of Boonsville planted in the 1990s.

Castello di Amorosa 2017 Pinot Noir Morning Dew Ranch Anderson Valley ($75) 94  The 2017 Morning Dew Ranch exhibits a dark ruby color and aromas of ripe dark cherry fruit. It reveals a soft texture on the attack with savory notes of dark cherry toast and spice on the palate. Rich and concentrated with soft round tannins and a persistent finish. A single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Morning Dew Ranch estate vineyard located just west of the town of Philo in the Anderson Valley, 20% whole cluster fermented, and matured 10 months in 50% new French oak. 13.4% alc.

Castello di Amorosa 2017 Pinot Noir Los Carneros ($39) 93  This Pinot Noir from the cool, Los Carneros growing area opens with scents of black currants, dark cherries and exotic spice. It’s full in the mouth with abundant quantities of opulent dark red fruit with a hint of briar.  Well balanced and finishes with a vibrant, long aftertaste. Matured 11 months in Burgundian French oak. 14.1% alc.

Castello di Amorosa 2017 Pinot Noir Il Rubino North Coast ($39) 92  Dark cherry with underbrush and a bright note of Montmorency cherry.  Velvet-like on the palate with fresh, rich dark cherry and berry flavors and a hint of briar with good acidity and a firm backbone.  Overall, well balanced and very flavorful.  A blend of grapes sourced from cool climate vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge, Sonoma Coast, and Green Valley of Russian River Valley; aged 11 months in 45% new French oak barrels. 13.8% alc.

Castello di Amorosa 2017 Zingaro Old Vine Zinfandel Russian River Valley ($42) 92  Zingaro captures the magic of old vine Zinfandel from the Russian River area. It offers a spicy, red fruited nose and a silky palate with impressive depth and purity. Rather high in alcohol as Zinfandel tends to be but shows no alcoholic heat, and the finish is long with a peppery bite. A blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Primitivo aged 18 months in 35% new French oak.

Castello di Amorosa 2014 La Castellana Napa Valley ($98) 92  Almost opaque dark ruby. La Castellana shows aromas of black currants, dark cherry, tobacco leaf and cedar. It’s dense on the palate with excellent depth of flavor, a soft and chewy texture, and big round tannins. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 15% Sangiovese, 2% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot matured 18 months in 60% new French oak. 14.8% alc.

Castello di Amorosa 2016 Sangiovese Voyager Vineyard Napa Valley ($35) 91 Pure red garnet. Spicy red cherry shows on the nose and is mirrored on the palate with additional notes of cranberry and light honeyed oak. A pretty wine, pure and refined in style and very fresh. Should pair well with pork and wildfowl dishes.  A blend of 91% Sangiovese from the Voyager Vineyard in the Yountville AVA and the Villa Amorosa Vineyard in the Diamond Mountain District, 7% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon matured 18 months in 35% new French oak.  14.6% alc.



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