Ask Our Winemakers Peter Velleno & Brooks Painter

Ask Our Winemakers

Q: What types of grapes are grown in the vineyards surrounding the Castello?

A: The Castle sits on Diamond Mountain, one of the warmest and driest parts of the Napa Valley. Red grapes grow best here, so we have Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Merlot as our main blocks, along with some very small parcels of Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Primitivo. White grapes need cooler climates to produce top quality wines, so our white grapes are grown elsewhere, such as Los Carneros in the southern end of the Napa Valley near the San Francisco Bay, and nearby Sonoma County and Mendocino County.

Q: My favorite is the Il Barone and my wife’s is the La Castellana. I still have a case of the 2014 Il Barone and we also have a case of the 2013 La Castellana. She also has a single bottle of a 2010 La Castellana. First, Is there any benefit to keeping the 2010 any longer? The same applies to the 2013? Is the Il Barone a bit young to enjoy now?

A: Hello, If only we had definite answers when we discuss the topic of ageing potential. In general, a safe rule of thumb is 8-12 years from vintage with most quality Napa Cabernet. However, I had a 2006 Il Barone last week and it was still singing, the tannins were fully resolved but the fruit showed more vigor than I had anticipated. I would drink the 2010 Barone and the 2010 Castellana in the next 12-18 months. The 2013’s and particularly the 2014’s have several years of maturing as those were powerful vintages. Thank you for enjoying our wonderful portfolio of wines..and yes, I agree, the sangiovese is a favorite at our table as well.

Cheers from the Castello

Q: I’ve heard on the tour that Castello di Amorosa only uses French oak barrels, not American. Why is that?

A: It is a stylistic decision. French Oak barrels are known to impart subtle flavors and spicy aromas to wines, as well as contribute to a silky mouthfeel. American Oak on the other hand is more obvious when used, with more sweetness and dominating aromas of coconut and vanilla. Because the French oak trees are older than American oak trees when they are ready for harvesting, and because less barrel can be made from French oak due to the nature of the wood, French barrels are considerably more expensive than American ones. At Castello di Amorosa we believe that the extra cost is worth it because the French oak is more compatible with our particular wines styles. We aim to elevate a wine with the use of oak and highlight the fruit itself, and we achieve that by using a lighter touch when it comes to oak.

Q: How is a “rosé” wine made?

A: The color in a red grape is contained in the grape skins. The pulp and juice inside of each berry is essentially colorless. When red grapes are freshly pressed the initial juice that is extracted will be very pale. For lighter styles, like our Cresta d’Oro Rosato or the Spumante del Castello Brut Rosé, the Pinot Noir grapes are pressed immediately and at a low pressure. As pressing continues at a higher pressure the amount of color that is squeezed from the skins increases, but astringency and bitterness will also seep in to the juice. A more delicate way to increase color extraction is to leave the reds grapes in contact with the juice in a tank for a day or 2 prior to pressing (this is called the “cold soak”). Our Gioia and La Fantasia are made in this way, with a brief cold soak followed by pressing, all before fermentation begins.

Q: Should I store my bottles on their sides, upside down, or upright?

A: Bottles sealed with screw caps should always be kept upright. In the short term, upright is fine for bottles sealed with cork, but for aging the best choice is to lay bottles on their sides.  This keeps the cork surface wet and allows sediments to collect on the sidewall of the bottle. “Neck down” is acceptable as far as wine quality as well, but you risk excessive sediment collecting on the cork, which can be messy when opening. If the corks dries out it can fall apart or shrink, allowing air to pass in and out of the bottle, prematurely oxidizes the wine. Avoid keeping cork-sealed bottles upright for extended periods to keep your wine tasting its best for years to come.

Q & A Policy:

Please allow us a 48 hour window, to answer all questions to the winemaker. If you have a follow up question, just submit a new question and refer to your old question.