Santa Barbara Vineyard

Chardonnay

Jim Sullivan

April 20th, 2022

Taste The Best of The Best: Napa’s Most Popular Chardonnays!

Chardonnay is very popular and remains one of the top white wines of all time. This fashionable varietal grows particularly well in California and is one of the most widely planted varietals in the world. The wine has great character with an inviting balance of fruit, acidity, and texture often described as creamy or buttery — some associate the taste with tropical fruit, apples, ripe figs, or sweet melon. Some of the best buttery Chardonnay is produced in California.

Long considered “the winemaker’s wine”, the style can range from crisp, lively tank-fermented wines, which see little or very little time in oak barrels, to rich, complex oak-aged wines that need several years of bottle age to fully display their uniqueness. The general trend is to produce a more restrained dry chardonnay, with less oak and less butter yet still elegant and complimentary to food, but some consumers are still in search of that sweet Chardonnay.

Winemakers Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno skillfully craft Castello di Amorosa’s chardonnays from renowned vineyard sites such as Henry Ranch, and Bien Nacido Vineyard. The 111-acre Henry Ranch Vineyard is in the Los Carneros appellation, with a small portion in the Mt. Veeder appellation of the Napa Valley. The vineyard is influenced by cool breezes from San Pablo Bay and daytime heat on the hills and valleys, making ideal growing conditions for chardonnay grapes. From this vineyard, Castello di Amorosa produces the Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay and the Napa Valley Chardonnay. Both wines reflect their Napa Valley terroir. Each are round, full-bodied with a gentle touch from the French oak wine barrels where they undergo a secondary malolactic fermentation. You will experience lush notes of baked apple, ripe pear, fall spices and toasted almond.

The Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay and La Rocca Bien Nacido Vineyard grapes are sourced in Santa Barbara County from the Santa Maria Valley appellation. The Bien Nacido terroir is a combination of Elder and Chamise shaly loams with Pleasanton sandy loam, and diverse soils of limestone, shale and uplifted marine volcanics. The Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay is a classic California-style Chardonnay with creamy aromas of baked meyer lemon, butterscotch and grilled pineapple leading to enticing flavors of baked apple and hints of toast, with bright acidity, a balanced mouthfeel and a round, opulent finish. The La Rocca Chardonnay offers refreshing aromas of tropical fruits and honeysuckle compliment this unique single vineyard Chardonnay’s bright acidity and citrus notes on the palate. Aged 10 months sur lie in a concrete fermentation egg brings about a subtle minerality and soft, lingering finish.

Our partners at Bien Nacido Vineyards, which is widely considered one of the top Chardonnay vineyards in California, work the vineyard daily, allowing the cool-climate chardonnay vineyard with something to say, to find its voice through mindful, dedicated and nearly obsessive commitment to excellence in farming.



Best California Chardonnay

The Fifty Best - California Chardonnay

Jim Sullivan

June 24th, 2020

Best California Chardonnay

From the Napa Valley to New York. Castello di Amorosa’s Reserve Chardonnay won a gold medal in the Fifty Best professional wine tasting in New York. Twenty-three premium wine contenders were evaluated for the distinguished “Best California Chardonnay” awards for 2020.

Using professional criteria, the pre-qualified panel of judges blind-tasted the chardonnays and rated them individually on a 1 to 5-point scoring system with 5 being the highest. After tallying the scores, medals were awarded based on the judges’ impressions.

Chardonnay is the most widely planted white grape variety, globally. The grape originated in a small village of Chardonnay in France and is now grown throughout the world. Castello’s Reserve Chardonnay is grown in the cool-climate Los Carneros AVA of the Napa Valley.

The wine judges had the following observation of our award-winning Reserve Chardonnay:

Following fermentation, this 100% Chardonnay was aged in 100% new Burgundian French oak barrels for 12 months prior to bottling. Aroma: Green apple, rambutan, lemon peel, minerality, subtle malo, slight oak, buttery. Palate: Bountiful lemon, lemon peel, apple, pear, melon, mango, peach, great tropical fruit, floral, cedar box, balanced oak, buttery, buttered popcorn, creamy, vanilla, smooth, crisp, classic California chardonnay. Finish: Ripe lemon, lime, mango, papaya, oak, vanilla, creamy, soft, balanced.

The complete results, along with tasting notes, can be viewed here:

https://www.thefiftybest.com/wine/best_california_chardonnay/

TheFiftyBest.com is a digital guide to wines & spirits, featuring rated listings resulting from proprietary blind tastings as judged by wine/spirits journalists, sommeliers, wine/spirit retailers, mixologists, wine consultants and connoisseurs. The Fifty Best achieves the highest standards of spirits evaluations by adhering to strict tasting rules and rigorous methodology.



Scallops Recipe

Seared Scallops & Sweet Corn Salad

Scallops Recipe

Recipe Date: February 26th, 2020
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 4
Cook Time: 00:20
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Seared Scallops & Sweet Corn Salad

From Mary Davidek

Ingredients

  • 4 Ears fresh sweet raw corn, husked
  • 2 Pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Radishes, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsps Grapeseed oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 lb Large Scallops
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Salad

Cut the kernels of corn off the cob with a sharp knife.  Mix the raw corn with the halved cherry tomatoes, red onion and radish in a large bowl.  Whisk 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and all of the lemon juice together in a small bowl and drizzle over the corn mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss and coat.

Seared Scallops

Heat one tablespoon of butter and the one remaining table spoon grapeseed oil in a heavy-bottmed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan and cook until done, around 2 minutes a side.  Remove from the pan and divide among 4 plates, serve the salad on the side.

Serve this cool, fresh salad with a chilled Chardonnay such as our Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay or “Bien Nacido” Chardonnay.

Adapted from Wine Spectator



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

castelloamor

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 complete 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!



Winter White

Mary Davidek

January 21st, 2015

Winter White

While most of us have a go-to favorite wine taking permanent tenancy in the ‘most preferred’ zone, often we explore other varietals– particularly when entertaining or in my case, looking for the just-right pairing. Entertaining and pleasing guests with diverse palates, seasonal influences, even extreme weather can bring wine-drinking-enjoying challenges. When it is 100 degrees and the mercury is soaring it can be a test to feign enthusiasm about a glass of inky rich Cabernet for the thick Porterhouse grilling on the ‘cue. Likewise, when you spy frost on the pavement and the windshield is icy, a chilled crisp white wine may be less than heart-warming. What to do when some of the satisfying hearty wintertime favorites are rich and creamy and just screaming for…. well….not a red wine.

My winter white is chardonnay. Specifically, Castello di Amorosa Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay. This is not the ‘Castello sommelier’ pontificating on the many virtues of this award winning chardonnay, this is me, the ‘wine drinker’ who is generally not excited about most California chard.

Castello’s Bien Nacido Chardonnay is different—this fruit is exceptional. The vineyard is located on the central coast of California and exposed to the Pacific. The coastal morning fog provides cool temperatures early in the day but warm late afternoons drenched in the Pacific sun. This gives the slow ripening grapes longer hang time on the vines while enjoying the real estate and the luxurious coastal influence. The juice shows its mettle when barrel fermented but not over manipulated so the gorgeous bright backbone of zippy acidity shines through. This balanced chard displays a soft nuttiness with fruit and focus. Juicy Comice pear, white peach and light vanilla flavors; full bodied and rounded–perfect for the rich creamy cold-weather foods we crave.

While winter white may not conjure up warm cozy images outside–

when you are inside, winter white can be an absolute delight!

 

Quick and Easy Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

♦ ½ lb.  fettuccine, uncooked

♦ 1lb.  boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

♦ 4tsp.  flour

♦ 1-1/4cups  chicken broth

♦ 4oz.  Mascarpone ( sub cream cheese)

♦ 1/2 cup Grated Parm, divided

♦ ¼ tsp.  garlic powder

♦ 1/4tsp. white pepper

Cook pasta to slightly firm. Sautée chicken in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 5 to 7 min. or until done, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet. Mix flour and broth in same skillet with whisk. Stir in Mascarpone, 2 Tbsp. Parm, garlic powder and pepper; cook 2 min. or until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken. Drain pasta; place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining Parm.



Chardonnay Napa Valley

In Defense Of Napa Valley's Veteran Wine Hero

Mary Davidek

November 7th, 2013

Meet Mary

In Defense Of Napa Valley’s Veteran Wine Hero

I was at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago and the subject of Napa Valley wine came up – I realize this is not shocking nor in itself blog-worthy! However, at this dinner we were specifically discussing Chardonnay. Maybe it was the time year as Chardonnay was the grape harvest du jour. Maybe it was the company I was in; long time Napa locals and wine makers. Maybe it was the wine I brought for the occasion.

This was mildly ironic as not more than 8 years prior I attended an ABC dinner, an entire night of Anything But Chardonnay. Admittedly, I was a reluctant participant but I attended *sigh* and took part in the grape bashing. “Too oaky!” claimed one reveler. “Manipulated and contrived” cried another! My favorite denial of this classic varietal was “Chardonnay does not pair well with ANY food!”

Wow–quite a statement! However, to put it bluntly; they were wrong.

It is now a number of years later and we are approaching Veteran’s Day. In America, this day is reserved as a time to reflect and celebrate past heroes and champions. Perhaps wine lovers should follow suit and pay respect to one of America’s wine heroes. After all, it was a California Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris tasting and brought recognition and eventually fame to a small farming community; Napa Valley.

Chardonnay is the second most planted white wine varietal in France and remains the most planted white wine grape on the planet. Additionally, Chardonnay styles differ dramatically and can reflect the artistry of wine making; buttery and oaky, crisp and fruity, austere with minerality. Combined with the diversity of soil and climatic zones, Chardonnay exhibits varied complexities and offers ageble wines with broad appeal. Plus, in the last 20 years wine makers have found malolactic fermentation and oak ageing are winemaking tools, but don’t have to be used fully, or at all, with every Chardonnay.

I regret my brief slide into the ABC movement. While our preferences may change as we explore different growing regions, varietals, and styles of winemaking; it is important to stay open-minded and savor new discoveries. And sometimes, we just have to stick to our guns and defend tried and true veterans that brought victory to the field and eventually… to our glass!

Chardonnay is primarily fermented in oak and is aged sur lie or on the lees. Lees refers to deposits of residual yeast and other particles occurring during fermentation. Ageing sur lie softens the taste of Chardonnay, especially on the finish. Oak provides oils and resins which not only add to the overall flavor and character of the wine but make Chardonnay a white wine which can benefit from bottle ageing.

The 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay has become ripe and juicy with golden apple, comice pear and lightly toasted brulee. If you have any of this Castello beauty hiding in the corner bring it out this Thanksgiving! Enjoy with a hearty harvest salad garnished with candied pecans and crumbled Feta

The 2008 Castello di Amorosa Bien Nacido Chardonnay knocked my proverbial wine-socks off! At five years from vintage this was visually beautiful and simply stunning in the glass. Vanilla and spice were the words repeated again and again, however, the 2008 Bien Nacido retained its fruit and was vivid on the palate.

Chardonnay may not be the traditional go-to for Ahi salad, but, a bit of ageing leveled off the acidity and the velvety texture of the avocado played off the creamy notes of the Chardonnay. This was a delicious and luxurious pairing.

Ahi and Avocado Salad with Ponzu   

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 ½ tsp. lime juice w/ zest to taste
  • Mix well and pour over cubed Ahi and Avocado