Friday, February 27, 2009

Report from ... Castagna Tasting - February 16, 2009

Former film and commercial director Julian Castagna came to town and set up shop at the Fine Wine Reserve with six of his wines (his "entire portfolio"). Julian is a very interesting character; he left the film business in the nineties to take up winemaking. At first he bought grapes from area growers to see if he was adept at making wine - better to waste someone else's grapes than your own. In a bizarre twist of fate Julian’s two sons have undertaken each side of his persona: one has followed his father’s past path in film, while the other it is learning from dad now, as a winemaker. I tasted all six wines, two of which are made by his son. My top three picks are as follows (all wines are currently private order moving, hopefully, to consignment come the spring):

3) 2008 Allegro Rosé ($39.95) … we tried both the 2007 and 2008 version, I found the 2007 flat and boring while the 2008 was vibrant with lots of red berries: an intense raspberry nose with an intense strawberry flavour all finished with a surprisingly dry finish, especially for a wine with so much upfront fruit. Julian pointed out that they were two very different types of vintages, which explained the night-and-day difference in the wines.

2) 2007 Adam’s Rib ($49.95 … this wine is made by Julian's son, a Chardonnay / Viognier blend - the nose was sweet with tree fruit (apples and peaches), while the palate was scrumptious showing peaches and hints of vanilla.

1) 2005 Sparkling Genesis Syrah ($99.95) ... usually, sparkling Shiraz is about as exciting as watching grass grow - but Julian is trying to improve on that reputation. He is experimenting with this sparkling to see what the difference age will have on his wine. First, he barrel aged the wine for 18-months, making only 6 barrels in total. He then divided them into three batches of two barrels each, bottled them and then let the secondary fermentation begin. He released one after twelve months – which Julian says was nice. The batch we tried was the 24-month experiment, then in another year he’ll release the 36-month batch. In the end the best batch will become the standard he uses from that day forward. In his opinion, the 24-month shines well above the twelve-monther, and he's looking forward to trying the 36. Lots of Shiraz character here with spicy-peppery notes, and lots of black cherry following on the taste with a healthy dose of fine bubbles. I just hope Julian comes back and lets us try the 36er.


Dean Tudor said...

Mikey, considering that there were only SIX wines in all, you could NOT find room to comment on all of them?????

Michael Pinkus - Grape Guy said...

Nope ... decided I was going to do top wines. In this economy who can afford all the wine - best to go with your favourites. Problem was, because there was only 6 wines it was tough to choose between them. In a room of 100 wines it's easy - but with only 6 (and 6 good wines) this was the tougher job.