I recently took a trip to Italy, so when I came home, I was anxious to get to a sample of wine that had been sitting in my cellar for admittedly too long. The wine is Castello di Amorosa’s 2012 La Castellana, which is their Napa Valley version of an Italian Super Tuscan.
The history of Super Tuscan wines began when Italian winemakers in Tuscany wanted to make wines using grape varieties that were both not indigenous to Italy and not allowed to be used under the DOC/DOCG appellation laws. Tuscany is the proud home of the indigenous Sangiovese grape variety, but with the birth of Super Tuscans came wines blending Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties.
Super Tuscans are very different from traditional Tuscan wines, because the blending in of Bordeaux varieties can bring a more saturated color, more robust palate, additional texture, new flavors, a different tannin level and the ability for the wine to take more new oak. These wines tend to be hearty but balanced, and many of them are incredibly long-lived. The same can be said for Castello di Amorosa’s 2012 La Castellana, a wine that is both robust but balanced and showing signs of age-worthiness.
Castello di Amorosa’s 2012 La Castellana from Napa Valley is comprised of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Sangiovese and 9% Merlot. This combination brings a sturdy tannin structure and dark fruit profile from the Cabernet Sauvignon, the brightness and acidity we all love from Sangiovese, and the softness in texture that defines Merlot. This is a blend that while still young, finds balance and is drinkable now, though you can tell that the wine has the stuffing to develop well in the cellar.
This 2012 La Castellana opens with a fully body and soft, but grainy tannin structure that is quickly mellowed by the softness texture that Merlot brings to any well-balanced blend. Dark fruit is juxtaposed against the oak, but the latter is not overbearing. With that being said, time in the cellar with lessen that oak and allow the wine to relax a bit more. You can taste the heartiness of this wine; the weight in the mouth is noticeable and surrounds the luscious dark chocolate-covered blackberry flavors. Letting the wine breathe a bit, after about an hour in the glass, it showed a softer and juicier profile—much more relaxed—with blackberry and an almost earthy, eucalyptus-like quality.