2017 Reserve Chardonnay wins Best White Wine at the SF Chronicle Competition!

Alison Cochrane Hernandez

January 14th, 2019

Fantastic awards from the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

We are thrilled to announce that our 2017 Reserve Chardonnay was named the White Sweepstakes Winner in this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which is the largest competition of wines from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Over 64 professional wine judges evaluated over 6,800 wines from 1,132 wineries, and our Reserve Chardonnay was one of 9 wines which were awarded sweepstakes medals. To achieve this distinction, our Chardonnay had to win in its price category, then win against all other Chardonnays across all price points (which comprised over 60% of the 2,500 white wines in the competition), and finally triumph in the field of all other winning white wine contenders.

Bob Fraser, Executive Director of the competition, elaborated on this achievement, stating “along with the Red Sweepstakes, the White Sweepstakes is very difficult to attain for a winery because it is competing against over 2,500 other outstanding white wines from a multitude of viticultural areas in North America. What is even more remarkable is that this marks the fourth time Castello di Amorosa has won the coveted San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstakes award. In the past the winery won the White Sweepstakes in 2017 for its 2015 Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer and won in consecutive years (2012-2013) for its Dessert Sweepstakes Anderson Valley Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. This illustrates a pursuit of excellence for the winemaking team at Castello di Amorosa.”

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest wine competition in North America. Founded in 1983 as the modestly sized Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition, the SFCWC has expanded tremendously over the years, gaining title sponsorship from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000. Now celebrating the 19th anniversary of the competition, the SFCWC is considered the barometer of how consumers select and measure their wine.

The public will have a chance to taste the award winning wines at The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition’s Public Tasting on Saturday, February 16 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion in San Francisco. Click here for tickets and additional information.

About the 2017 Reserve Chardonnay

Our 2017 Reserve Chardonnay was sourced from two vineyards in the cooler southern end of Napa Valley, and harvested between August 17 and September 13. It was fermented and aged sur lie in 100% new Burgundian oak barrels, with 75% of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation, which lends to a round and balanced full-bodied Napa Valley Chardonnay with lush notes of baked apple, ripe pear, fall spices and toasted almond.

Winemaker Peter Velleno noted “the 2017 vintage quality is showing very high quality, with a lot of bright acidity and fresh varietal aromas in the white wines, along with deep color and sweet fruit flavors. We think our Reserve Chardonnay is an excellent example of this exceptional growing season in Napa Valley.”

Mary Davidek, who runs our highly acclaimed Royal Food & Wine Pairing Tour at the Castello, recommends pairing creamy dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo with the Reserve Chardonnay, to complement the creamy elements in the wine. For a lighter pairing, her Ahi Avocado Salad with Ponzu (pictured below) makes a bright and refreshing accompaniment to the full-bodied Chardonnay.

All awards from the 2019 SF Chronicle Wine Competition

Castello di Amorosa also received a number of Gold and Double Gold Medals, along with a fifth consecutive Best of Class medal for our 2017 Dry Gewürztraminer. Check out the completel list of award winners:

We are so proud of our fantastic winemaking team, and look forward to sharing all of our award-winning wines with you!



Apple Roses

Recipe Date: November 19th, 2018
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 6-12
Cook Time: 01:10
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Puff Pastry Apple Roses

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
  • 3-4 apples (I used Gravenstein apples from our Three Arrows Ranch property, but you can substitute your favorite variety; Honeycrisp also works well)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Flour (for dusting the countertop)
  • Powdered sugar or caramel sauce (for drizzling)

Directions

Core apples and slice in half from top to bottom (do not peel). Cut halves into paper thin, crescent-shaped slices (use a mandolin slicer if you have one for faster and easier slicing).

Fill a microwave safe bowl halfway with water and add lemon juice. Place the sliced apples into the bowl immediately to prevent browning. Once all apples have been sliced and added to the bowl, microwave for 3 minutes to soften the slices, making them easier to roll into your roses. If you prefer, you can also simmer the slices in a pan on the stove until soft. The slices should be able to easily bend without breaking.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet into a rectangular shape roughly 12×9″. Cut the dough into 6 strips, 2×9″. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry.

In a small bowl, combine apricot preserves and two tablespoons of water. Microwave until warm (making it easier to spread on your puff pastry slices).

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Drain the apples.

Spread a small amount of apricot jam onto your pastry strip. Starting at one end of each pastry strip and working your way across, place apple slices with the skin side sticking partly off the strip, overlapping each slice partly to create the “petals” of your roses. Leave the bottom half of the pastry strip empty.

Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon sugar and fold the bottom half of the strip up to tuck in the bottom half of your apple petals.

Starting from one end, carefully roll up the strip, making sure to keep the apple slices in place. Seal the edge at the end and place the rose in a greased muffin pan. Repeat with remaining strips.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check the roses 30 minutes into baking, and if the tops of the apples are starting to crisp, move the pan to the lower rack of the oven or cover with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Sprinkle finished roses with powdered sugar or drizzle with caramel sauce, and serve while warm. Roses can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days on the countertop or 3 days in the refrigerator.

Pair with our Il Raggio del Sole Moscato, Simpatica Riesling/Moscato blend, or our Gioia Rosato di Sangiovese



A Spooktacular Night at the Pagan Ball

Alison Cochrane Hernandez

October 30th, 2018

A Spooktacular Night at the Pagan Ball

On Friday, October 25, we lowered the drawbridge and welcomed in wine-loving ghouls, vampires, pirates, monsters, and superheroes for a spooktacular night of tricks and treats at the Castello’s 10th annual Pagan Ball! The evening featured delicious bites from our friends at Oak Avenue Catering paired with Castello wines in the courtyard, fortune telling on the terrace, dancing in the Great Hall, a haunted exhibit from Napa City Ghosts and Legends, and our creepiest haunted cave maze ever!

View Album

Scroll down to see some of our favorite photos from the evening, plus a great video of the night from our friends at VIBE Audio Visual Designs, or click the link above to see the entire album!

Our friends at VIBE did a fantastic job lighting the Castello for the Pagan Ball, and keeping the dance floor rocking all night long with DJ Danny Dell in the Great Hall! Check out their great video of the evening:

Our team worked tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the Pagan Ball putting together the scariest haunted cave maze we’ve had yet! Winding through the twists and turns of the underground levels of the Castello in the dark with frights around every corner, it was an experience to die for!

Our guests outdo themselves every year with their amazing costumes, and 2018 was no different! Check out a few of our favorites:

Want to join us at one of our upcoming Wine Club events? Click the link below to see what’s coming up next at the Castello! We hope to see you soon!

Wine Club Events


Night Harvest at the Castello

Alison Cochrane Hernandez

October 2nd, 2018

Night Harvest at the Castello

Castello di Amorosa sits in the hillsides of the Diamond Mountain District of Napa Valley, and is surrounded by 30 acres of vineyards planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Primitivo, and Merlot. These medium-to-full-bodied wine grapes are typically picked in the later half of the harvest season, and this year we are right on schedule with the start of the estate harvest, as this past Wednesday night we harvested our Block 5 Merlot. The first block of fruit to be harvested at the Castello this year, it sits along the entryway to the Castello, along the left hand side of our driveway as you come up the hill.

Harvesting fruit at night is an excellent way to preserve the acidity of the berries and ensure that they arrive on the crush pad in optimal condition. The berries are also much firmer at these temperatures, making it easier to sort and destem clusters on the crush pad.

Night harvesting also provides better working conditions for the vineyard teams who work tirelessly to hand pick each cluster, ensuring only the best reach the winery. Crews will often make several passes through the same vineyard over a period of days or weeks to ensure that each cluster reaches peak ripeness before being picked.

If you’re visiting Napa Valley this time of year, be sure to keep an eye out for bright lights in the vineyards after dark; these are signs of hardworking vineyard crews harvesting the beautiful fruit of the 2018 vintage.



Flat Iron Steak with Cocoa Nibs and Coffee Rub

Recipe Date: September 28th, 2018
Difficulty: Easy
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Flat Iron Steak with Cocoa Nibs and Coffee Rub

From Oak Avenue Catering

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs flat iron steak
  • 1/2 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup whole bean French roast coffee
  • 1/2 cup ancho chili powder
  • 2 tbsps kosher salt
  • 2 tbsps granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsps cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsps dry mustard
  • 2 tbsps neutral vegetable or grapeseed oil

Directions

PREP THE RUB:

  • Add cocoa nibs and coffee beans to spice grinder and process until finely ground.
  • Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and set aside.

 PREP THE STEAK:

  • Coat the trimmed and cleaned steak with the vegetable oil.
  • Rub the spice mixture liberally all over the meat.
  • Wrap the steak tightly in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat grill to medium-hot.
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the steak.
  • Cook the steak on one side for 4-5 minutes until caramelized and brown. Check after 2 minutes to make sure the steak is not scorching. Turn down heat or use less direct heat if needed.
  • Turn the steak over and cook another 3-4 minutes or until an internal temperature registers 130○F.
  • Transfer the steak to a cutting board and loosely cover with foil. Let the steak rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Slice the steak thinly on the bias and serve.
  • Sprinkle with Maldon salt to taste.

NOTES:

  • The wonderful balance of cocoa, coffee and chili makes for a flavor so enjoyable you can forego any additional sauces.
  • Enjoy the steak with your favorite BBQ sides. We are particularly fond of grilled vegetables over a smear of labne and sprinkled with a savory granola.
  • Pair with a medium to full-bodied wine like our Zingaro Old Vine Zinfandel or Napa Valley Merlot.


Related Products



Strawberry Fantasia Cake

Recipe Date: September 28th, 2018
Difficulty: Easy
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Strawberry Fantasia Cake

From Pastry Tales

Ingredients

For the cake layers

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk room temperature

For the filling

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup La Fantasia wine

For the frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipped cream
  • 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup La Fantasia wine

*If you want the frosting to be sweeter, you can add more sugar.

Directions

For the cake layers

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, and tap out the excess. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment,beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 4 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  • Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

For the filling

  • Put sliced strawberries in a shallow container and pour the wine over it.
  • Cover and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.

For the frosting

  • Using both a chilled bowl and chilled beaters, beat the cream until frothy. Add the powdered sugar and wine gradually while beating.  Whip until the cream holds soft peaks.

*If you see the frosting gets too thin, don’t add more wine.

*If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes. You can refrigerate the cake too.

To assemble

It’s very important that if the tops of the cake layers have crowned, you should use a serrated knife to even them. Place one layer right-sight up on a cake plate. Using a brush or a spoon, soak the layer with some La Fantasia wine. Spread some of the whipped  cream frosting and add some of the strawberry filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and brush the top of it with some La Fantasia wine, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling.  Frost all the cake with the remaining whipped cream. You can decorate the top with fresh strawberries or you can use the leftover filling. Refrigerate it for an hour and then serve.

Enjoy!


Related Products



Our First Cork Tree At The Castello

Alison Cochrane Hernandez

April 6th, 2018

Our First Cork Tree at the Castello

This January, Castello President Georg Salzner and Winemaker Peter Velleno planted our first cork tree. Native to southwestern Europe, the Quercus suber cork oak tree can grow up to 100 feet tall, and is sure to thrive in the Mediterranean climate we enjoy here in Napa Valley. Wine Corks are made from the bark of the cork tree, which needs to be stripped and peeled off by hand. Cork trees are typically harvested every seven years, and are a renewable resource since the tree is not cut down and only the outer layer of bark is removed. It takes a cork tree 25 years to reach maturity before its bark can be harvested, and we are looking forward to our first Castello cork harvest in 2042!



Aging Gracefully

Alison Cochrane Hernandez

March 28th, 2018

Aging Gracefully

If you have ever taken a guided tour of the Castello, you will have walked past our Library Rooms, filled with the Castello’s older vintages resting quietly in their cool brick shelves in small, frescoed rooms behind hand-forged wrought iron gates. One of these rooms even houses wines from Dario’s great grandfather’s original winery in San Francisco, dating back over a century. These dimly lit rooms raise numerous questions from inquisitive guests: what is the best way to age wine? How should you store your bottles? How long should you age them? Are those 100 year old bottles still drinkable? All great questions! Now for some answers…

♦ Storing Your Wines

Whether you’re planning on enjoying the bottles you brought back from your trip to the Castello next week, next year, or next decade, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your wine will be perfectly ready to drink when you pop that cork:

  • Store cork sealed bottles on their side. This will help to ensure that the cork stays moist, preventing it from drying out and letting oxygen into the bottle.
  • Store screw cap bottles upright. Since there is no cork, there is no need to store these bottles on their sides.
  • Keep your wines out of direct sunlight. The back seat of your car or your kitchen window are definitely not ideal places to keep your favorite bottle of Castello wine. Light can be damaging to wines, altering their delicate chemical balance and potentially even heating up your wine. This is why the lights you see in our Library Rooms are dim and red, and also why most ageable wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon come in deep green bottles; the color of the bottle helps to prevent light rays from penetrating through the glass.
  • Store your wines at a cooler temperature. Hot wine = cooked wine, which can be a sad sight to see (and a terrible thing to taste). You’ll notice heat damage to your bottles if the cork appears to be popping up from the bottle. Most wines are best kept around 55° Fahrenheit (13° Celsius). Keeping them cooler also helps to slow the aging process. Storing your bottles in a slightly humid environment (60-70% on average) is also helpful for preventing the cork from drying out at the end not in contact with the wine. If you don’t have a wine fridge or cellar, keeping them in a cool place out of direct sunlight, like a closet or a wine rack in the coolest part of your house, should do the trick just fine.

♦ Aging Your Wines

Are a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Pinot Grigio capable of aging the same amount of time? Definitely not. There are certain characteristics of specific grape varietals, as well as how the wines are aged before bottling, that determines a wine’s ageability. The vast majority of wines available in the market today are meant for consumption sooner rather than later. Some, however, absolutely benefit from some quiet time in the cellars.

  • Bold red wines like our Il Barone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and La Castellana Super Tuscan blend are capable of long-term aging, typically up to 15 years from the vintage date on the bottle. This is because these wines have the structure capable of aging due to the tannins imparted from thick skins of the Cabernet grapes as well as the new French oak barrels they’re aged in. As the wine sits in the bottle, these tannin molecules are linking together and falling to the bottom of the bottle as sediment; which is often why so many younger Cabernets tend to pack a bigger “punch” than older vintages (and also why so many older red wines are decanted to remove the sediment). While these wines are fantastic to drink now, they can be even better after laying down for several years, as the structure of the wine smooths out and the tannins are allowed to integrate further.
    • Our 2005 Il Barone was recently awarded 94 Points from Wine Spectator Magazine in a ten year retrospective tasting led by wine critic James Laube, which only helps to prove that those bottles of Castello Cabernet in your cellar are getting even more spectacular with age!
  • Light-bodied white and sweet wines like our Pinot Grigio and La Fantasia are meant for drinking within the first five years from its vintage date. These wines are prized for their bright and crisp qualities; as they age these characteristics tend to fade. So if you’ve been hanging onto that bottle of 2006 La Fantasia, it might be time to pop that bottle before it’s too late!
  • If you’re ever curious about how long to age your favorite bottle of Castello wine, check out our Ageability and Cellaring Chart, which shows the proper time, temperature, and storing positions for our premium and reserve wines.

So whether you’re building your own Tuscan-inspired brick and frescoed underground cellar, or are simply looking to keep your prized Castello wines from cooking in the living room of your apartment, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you’ll be enjoying your favorite bottle at the best time, temperature, and place! Just be sure to drink them before they turn 100!



Crepes with Peaches and Cream

Recipe Date: February 28th, 2018
Difficulty: Easy
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Crepes with Peaches and Cream

From Delightful Repast

The Crepes
(Makes 18 6-inch crepes)

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (omit when making savory crepes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooledThe Fresh Fruit Filling
  • Thinly sliced perfectly ripe yellow peaches or other soft fruit
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sugar

The Garnish

  • Powdered sugar
  • Whipped cream

1.  Put crepe ingredients in order listed into the blender. Blend on medium to high speed, depending on how powerful your blender is, for 10 to 20 seconds. Scrape sides, and blend another 3 seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. If batter has thickened, it may be thinned with a bit of milk or water (a teaspoon at a time) just before using. The batter (about 2 1/4 cups) should be about as thick as heavy cream.
  • Tip: Or use an immersion blender in a 1-quart glass measuring cup, as I prefer; pulse until batter is smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice, about 20 seconds total.

2.  Crepes can be made any size, but I use an 8-inch nonstick omelette pan or 8-inch nonstick fry pan to make 6-inch dessert crepes. Heat pan over medium-low to medium heat until thoroughly heated (droplets of water sprinkled onto the pan will sizzle and disappear immediately), about 2 minutes. Brush lightly with just a little melted or softened butter.

  • Here it is now, The  Swirl: Holding pan off heat, quickly pour into the center of the pan 1/8 cup of batter, and immediately begin swirling, tilting and rolling, the pan until the batter covers the bottom of the pan evenly. Cook for about 30 to 60 seconds, or until browned on the bottom and looking dry on the top, especially the edge. Using both hands, lift the edge with your fingers and turn it over. The second side will need less time to cook.
  • Tip: I use a 1/8-cup from my stainless steel measuring cup set. It is exactly the right amount to make crepes that are just a bit over 6 inches in diameter. And I use the GIR silicone mini spatula to start lifting the edge, then take hold of it with the thumb and index finger of both hands and quickly flip it over.
3.  Repeat until all the batter is used. This recipe makes precisely enough batter for 18 crepes, but you will need to scrape the bowl to get that last 1/8 cup. Stack on a plate and store, wrapped, in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 2 or 3 days; may also be frozen for up to 2 months. Let refrigerated crepes stand at room temperature for about an hour before proceeding. Allow frozen crepes to thaw completely before unwrapping and separating.

4.  Prepare a dessert filling; in this case, fresh peach filling. You need only about 3 or 4 tablespoons of filling per crepe, and there are 2 crepes per serving. So do the math. If you are making dessert for two (that’s 4 crepes), thinly slice enough peaches to make 1 cup or so. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and sugar to taste; let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to macerate.

You can even cook the macerated filling for 4 or 5 minutes if you prefer your peaches cooked. It’s definitely the way to go when your peaches are less than stellar.

5.  To assemble: Lay down a crepe, pretty side down (that’s the first side cooked), spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of fruit onto one half. Fold over other half to cover. Fold in half again to form a wedge (that’s the “Crepes Suzette fold”). Place 2 crepes on each dessert plate. Dust with powdered sugar and add a spoon or two of whipped cream.


Related Products