A far-ranging visit with Castagna, Beechworth

By Sarah Ahmed

I cannot recall when I first tasted Castagna wines from Beechworth, Victoria.  But I do remember that they made quite an impression.  Though not short of body, they had a dryness about them – a relatively emphatic acid and tannin structure and savouriness.  It’s surely no coincidence that founder Julian Castagna was an early adopter of biodynamic cultivation and alternative (Italian) grape varieties. For his part, biodynamics brings out “the freshness and life that’s there.”  I was excited to visit the 4ha vineyard in March at long last.

I say vineyard, but it was so hot atop the exposed, north-facing 500m ridge that we made a bee-line, toute suite, for the cool confines of Castagna’s light and airy kitchen to taste.  Castagna’s customary head-to-toe black garb, the stylish, art-filled house and his sharp opinions betray the winemaker’s previous life as a globe-trotting documentary film director.  It’s as if he and his wife, Carolann, a film producer/writer, landed from outer space.  But they have been here, making wine in the foothills of the Australian Alps, for some 20 years.