Castello di Amorosa | Wines as Impressive as the Tour?
A visit to Castello di Amorosa, or “The Castle” as it is often referred, is a must when visiting Napa Valley. Sure, it’s can be crowded and quite touristy, but it’s nothing short of spectacular to tour this sprawling, 121,000 square foot, 13th century era medieval Tuscan-inspired architectural masterpiece crafted from handmade materials, many of which were actually imported from Italy.
But what about the quality of the wines Castello di Amorosa produces? Today I’m on a mission to determine whether Castello di Amorosa’s wines are as medieval as the towering castle in which they’re made! You can check out more from my previous visit to Castello di Amorosa here.
During that visit, I didn’t have the opportunity to taste Castello di Amorosa’s flagship Super Tuscan Blend “La Castellana”. Castello di Amorosa compares it in style and quality to highly sought-after examples by Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Tignanello. At roughly half the price of these esteemed names, how does “La Castellana”, as well as their Napa Valley Chardonnay, stack up?
Castello di Amorosa Chardonnay Napa Valley 2014: 100 % Chardonnay harvested from Castello di Amorosa’s estate vineyards at the cooler, southern end of Napa Valley and aged 10 months in 50% new French oak. Pours a medium-gold yellow. The nose is bright and pure revealing aromas of pears and apricot framed by hay, honey and lime citrus notes. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with a slightly creamy, buttery texture (from 10 months sur lie aging) that’s bursting with sweet guava and pear fruits further nuanced by honey, lime citrus and spicy hazelnut. A solid effort that would be a 90 pointer if it weren’t for the ever so slightly drying finish.
Score: 89 | Price: $29
Castello di Amorosa La Castellana 2011 Super Tuscan Blend: Produced from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Sangiovese and aged 20 months in French oak. Pours a deep garnet red in the glass. The nose is complex and fragrant, revealing almost perfumed aromas of smoky black raspberry, cherries and blackcurrants interlaced with camphor, pine and earth. On the palate this full-bodied wine’s authoritative personality turns dark and savory with a dense core of blackberry and creme de cassis. Finishes seamlessly with notes of loam and a streak of graphite minerality. Surprisingly good and very much like a modern Bordeaux with a measure of old-world flair (Super Tuscans emulate the great wines of Bordeaux).
Score: 93 | Price: $95
There’s Nothing Medieval About the Wines at Castello di Amorosa!
Castello di Amorosa’s Director of Winemaking, Books Painter, is a veteran in the winemaking business with over 30 years under his belt. He was recently recognized as Winemaker of the Year in the 2014 American Fine Wine Competition. His winemaking philosophy embodies producing wines that are “delicious, classically structured, intensely flavored, well-balanced, elegant wines which showcase the “Terroir” of each unique vineyard site.”
These two fine examples clearly demonstrate that Castello di Amorosa is taking much more than their tour seriously. There is nothing medieval at all about these wines. Brooks Painter and his winemaking team have succeeded in fashioning a solid, reasonably priced Napa Chardonnay as well as a compelling flagship Super Tuscan Blend that has the chops to compete with the likes of Ornellaia and Sassicaia – and did I already mention that it rings in at roughly half the price of the coveted Super Tuscan names?
*Wines received as media samples for purposes of review. No other consideration was received from Castello di Amorosa for this article.