Castagna 2007 Sauvage – a vineyard blend

When one believes that the best wine is made with the least intervention, nature seems able to throw in a few surprises. 2007 was such a year. A complex vintage, a vintage where the fruit we grew was atypical, so I made the decision that the fruit would be best served by not keeping the varieties separate but by making a vineyard blend. This blend was bottled in November 2008 and although really good and extremely interesting, was like the fruit at harvest, atypical. The tannins especially, were quite different from what we have come to expect of Castagna wines – it needed time in bottle.

Sauvage in barrels at CastagnaBarrels at Castagna Vineyard

We thought two years should do the trick. The wine was put into cool storage for probable release in late 2010 or early 2011. Then vintage 2011 happened. The blend, which we labelled Sauvage, assumed a different importance we made a decision to hold onto it and release it instead of 2011 – thus ensuring that we would have at least one new wine to release at the end of 2013. The wine sat quietly in a cool dark place for five years and was released in 2013. The tannins are now typically Castagna – firm and fine, simply delicious. So No Genesis, No La Chiave nor Un Segreto in 2013, instead a vineyard blend, with five years bottle age, and because it was labelled Sauvage it was incredible value. It still is. The wine is delicious and I am very proud of it.

Castagna 2007 Sauvage tasting notes

Vintage 2016

What an incredible vintage 2016 has been. Here we are in a cool climate Beechworth yet everything is off before the end of summer. Shiraz, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo all picked in the same week – quite unthinkable yet the flavours seem really, really good with fantastic beguiling aromas; time will tell.

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Checking out what’s in fermenting in the egg with Mr Piphare.

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Open Day 2015

Another heavenly day for Open Day. This time of year shows Beechworth at its very best.  Why would you be anywhere else? It’s really lovely to have so many of our long-time customers all together. I guess Open Day has become a bit of a tradition as it is now in its 5th year. Here are a few photographs as a memory of the day.

On Rosé

From the very inception of the Castagna Allegro in 1998, my driving force has always been to make a wine that is, in its own right, memorable. Rosé was at that time the neglected wine style but should have been, at the very least, the centre piece of Australian drinking during our summer months. Most of what was made, was made was made as an after-thought, a solution to a problem for red wine producers facing over-cropped fruit. And although it is gratifying to see the growing interest in Rosé Continue reading

Castagna Genesis Syrah 2010

A NEW REVIEW  Almost none left but hey, it’s nice to be told you got it right!

genesis_syrah_10With a return to more regular rainfall at the beginning of the 2010 vintage, Julian Castagna has seized the opportunity with both hands and released this gem. Dark berries pulse across the bouquet and palate, with fine vanillin/cedary oak, dried herbs and sweet spices. Wonderful length, primary dark fruits and vibrant acidity endure throughout the complex finish.

Drinking Range 2016 – 2028 | Score 96

WineGenius.com

A Perspective on Biodynamics & Intuition…

When people come to visit us, they often ask questions and want to find out more about biodynamics. I try to explain that to fully understand biodynamics requires a shift in thinking, a shift in thinking that requires judgments to be not solely scientific.  I suggest that embracing biodynamics requires an instinctual understanding of the space we inhabit, the land we farm, and an understanding of the importance of intuitive perceptions. Acceptance of intuition is something that our scientific community finds difficult to embrace.  In an earlier Newsletter I quoted a scientist – Professor Stuart B. Hill now of the University of Western Sydney – about the scientific basis of the BD preparations.  I would like to quote him again if I may, this time about intuition:

“A purely scientific approach does not allow for the intuitive understanding of the ‘good’ farmer. Most people, including scientists, make decisions partly based on ‘feelings’ and intuitions, probably more often than they recognise, but science makes no allowance for that.  In fact, most aspects of science are in denial about the phenomenon, and scientists set-up experiments which ignore it. Those feelings or intuitions are, in fact, based on readings of inputs we don’t consciously recognise, and while most tertiary courses provided no support training for use of those intuitive registers, and in many instances actively worked against them. In social ecology we talk about mystical or spiritual dimensions, which are not scientific but represent our best attempts to acknowledge that conscious human knowledge represents only a minute portion of the sum of knowledge in the world.”

To illustrate his point he refers to an image, used by André Voisin, a French agronomist, where a minute dot beside a huge circle represents the sum total of human knowledge with the circle representing the knowledge there is to discover.

“There is no doubt we need to get better at recognizing and making use of these intuitive inputs”.

To further reinforce his point he talks of his grandfather, an ‘uneducated man’, who knew intuitively just when and where to plant particular vegetable crops.

“He couldn’t explain it. He just knew the time was right and that is what he should do.  Although the reasons may have been inexplicable, but the inputs he was tapping into were still real, and the results he achieved with his intuition out-stripped those of people taking the more limited ‘scientific’ approach. It’s the same with really good farmers, although the modern trend to put farmers through degree programs strongly focused on conventional science is tending to kill that by closing them off to intuitive inputs, which are real even thought they can’t be easily measured.”

I wonder if the criticism now being leveled at Australian wine of ‘sameness’ would be tempered if our highly-skilled, highly-trained,  science-based winemakers listened to their inner-self, their intuition, a little more often.

On What is Biodynamics

hornsBiodynamics was first detailed in a series of agriculture lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 and is internationally recognized as a leading organic method working across al1 agricultural systems.

The biodynamic method involves the use of specially developed preparations, better known by the numbers 500-508, which assist in connecting the whole farm unit with the dynamic rhythms of the earth and of its atmosphere. Instead of just acting on the physical, biodynamics goes a step further and works both, with the living soil and the less understood but powerful invisible energies of nature. Biodynamics recognizes that great wine starts in the vineyard, not the cellar, and that a wine-grower must understand his soil and site before he can make a great wine. Biodynamics – because of this connection with the world of invisible energies – helps to dramatically increase the possibility of individuality in wine. The French call this individuality Terroir.