How many wineries do you know which possess their own medieval torture chamber? You can find one at Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley, a winery with its own authentic Tuscan castle. Maybe they need the rack, iron maiden and other torture implements to handle unruly guests in their tasting room?
The origins of the Castello di Amorosa winery extend back to the late 19th century. In 1885, Vittorio Sattui, an Italian immigrant, established the V. Sattui winery in San Francisco. Prohibition put an end to the winery yet it would be resurrected fifty years later by Dario Sattui, his great grandson, in 1972. Dario reopened V.Sattui in St. Helena and it did well enough that Dario was able to expand. He bought a property in Calistoga in 1993 and then started construction of a Tuscan castle and winery, which opened in 2007.
Castello di Amorosa specializes in Italian style wines, though they make some standard wines too, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. It is their Italian-style wines though which intrigue me and I recently received some media samples of several of their wines. Unfortunately, their wines may be difficult for others to locate as they only sell them directly to the public. They are not available in wine stores or restaurants, and do not currently ship to Massachusetts. However, these wines are worth seeking out if you can find a means of acquiring them, such as a friend in New Hampshire or Connecticut.
Castellana means "The Lady of the Castle" and the 2008 La Castellana ($68) is a Super Tuscan-style blend, containing 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, and 14% Sangiovese. The wine is aged for 20 months in French oak, has an alcohol content of 14.6%, and about 1634 cases were produced. There are two basic styles of Super Tuscan blends: a Chianti style (heavy on the Sangiovese) and a more Bordeaux style (usually heavier on Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot). I have a strong preference for the more Sangiovese heavy Super Tuscans, such as the Isole e Olena Cepparello and the Fontodi Flaccianello.
Thus, the Castellana wasn't the type of Super Tuscan that I usually gravitate to, but I found it to be an excellent wine. It is a complex and intense wine, yet the tannins are manageable and it doesn't pulverize you with its flavors. Dark berries, black cherry, a little tartness, a rich spiciness and hints of mocha. A lingering finish is very pleasant, and it probably would be best with a hearty dish, from a juicy steak to a Bolognese Tagliatelle. I would love to see what Castello could do with a more Sangiovese heavy Super Tuscan.
The next time I am in Napa, I will have to visit Castello di Amorosa, to taste more of their wines, and o hopefully catch a peek at their torture chamber.