It is gratifying indeed to have wonderful words written about something you are passionate about. Below are a few of the comments from the press and also some from our customers.
Castagna Vibrates under a full moon!
By Philip White
As good as wine tasting gets. Genesis from then to now. And tasted on a root day!
Away back on the other side of last vintage I sat down at the laden table of the Castagna family at Beechworth, on the northern foothills of the Victorian Alps. To me, this is as good as wineries get. While I think about thirty of Australia’s 2600 wineries make consistently brilliant wine, Castagna is as close to the top of that thirty as I would care to measure. Or could measure.
No need to remind my long-term readers how I feel about stuff like that. But for those who came in late, a tasting like this at Castagna is such a flash of stately brilliance that I wish I had to walk home from Rome across China to Shanghai or somewhere, just to fully digest these notes. Julian and Adam Castagna first gave me a tasting of barrels. 2012 Shiraz in a new Burgundy barrel? Creamy, creamy in the mouth; crème de cassis; sublime intensity and elegance. Finish? Pickle of granite in acid and mace.
Same wine in a Bordeaux barrel? Still creamy, but much more austere and precise: pencil shavings and more gradually tapered, like Bordeaux.
Same wine in old barrel? More like the most soulful of Castagna. And on we went. Same vineyard picked eight days later with one per cent more alcohol in a new Burgundy barrel? Another beast again. This was architecture more than cooking, the most precise shard of a wine, agro allspice, sandy smashed windscreen tannins. Gehry. “I’d never use Bordeaux oaks on stuff this strong,” Julian said. Same wine in a barrel from another Burgundy cooper? The wine’s much more pungent, sick and creamy on the one hand, yet as edgy as wet hessian or burlap or the wheatbags of hemp seed we could get at Charlicks in the seventies. It was called Racing Pigeon Food.
So there we went, on through the dancing mysteries of Castagna Sangiovese and Nebbiolo in different oaks – trippy – and right to the verge of one of the most exciting tastings this writer can remember in Australia or anywhere: a serious uncorking of a set of Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz, and a day to wallow in them.
My first contact with the Castagna occurred when the 1999 Genesis poked its noble head from a row of hundreds of glasses of masked Shiraz and ended up winning the highest points out of the thousands of everything tasted for the 2001 Top 100 in The Advertiser, South Australia’s major daily. For consecutive years thereafter, Castagna repeated the conquest with one wine after another. Blind tastings; wines I’d never tasted before. They kept winning.
So here’s that wine again.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 1999 (13.5% alcohol; 96++ points). “Not like any other Australian Shiraz,” I scratched out. “creamy, opulent, luxurious, harmonized essence of Shiraz, almost leaden in its incredible authority and weight. The fruit simply melts into a pot of red gold.” And then Julian butts in. “This is off two year old vines,” he says. “I took one bunch off every vine. That’s all. That’s all. I think you’ll see that these wines are of this vineyard,’ he says. “Of this vineyard.”
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2000 (13.5% alcohol; 95 points) shares the 1999s creamy wholesomeness, but it’s sharper in the herbals. If the oak contributed any precise aroma to the ’99, it was mace, made from the peel of the nutmeg. This is the nutmeg itself here in this 2000. While still smooth and harmonious, this wine has feints of soot, licorice and star anise. It’s more slender and sinewy, vivacious and bright than the ’99, and the better one to drink now, as it won’t last as long as that venerable.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2001 (13.8% alcohol; 94+++ points) smells like a three-year old wine. It reminded me of Gago’s rad Bin 620 Penfolds, with all that brash confidence and luxurious intensity way beyond its short years. I’m not saying it’s aged prematurely, but that it has adult flesh of the finest athletic form far too early for its own good. And I’m begrudging in this praise. It seemed as slender and athletic as the 2000, but then with air made itself more so, with more sinuous, snaky acidity and finer tannins. A most refined and elegant wine on any table. And another one sure to swell with a decade of dungeon.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2002 (13.5% alcohol; 96+++ points) had more of a pronounced dried herbs touch than its predecessors. It’s also minty, like peppermint, and impossibly youthful and bright. It’s fruit is still fluffy, like a whipped confection. Call me your little whipped confection if you like, as long as you tip this into me. As it settles its minions onto the prairie of the palate, it brings a hint of chocolate crème caramel from a great city restaurant many horses distant. There is no other Shiraz like this. Astonishing. Ravishing.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2003 was not released. The vintage was not up to standard.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2004 (14% alcohol; 93+ points) is where the crème de cassis, the jujube fruits, licorice and star anise well together in a sullen sort of a well, giving nuffink away until you get it onto the laughing gear, where all the above are liberated very slowly, like one hostage at a time, surrounded by and scribbled upon by the heavy lead of the 6B carbon pencil. The wine is slightly hot from its alcohol. Profound and confounding. Its heavy lack of primary humour reminds me of Dorris Lessing, but its fine silky tannins draw it out to a prime tension probly beyond Dorris.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2005 (14% alcohol; 93+ points). Oooh dear. Musk, blackberry, blackcurrant, jujubes, jello, lipstick, tea tin, dried herbs, mace, bay, star anise, cedar, licorice, Marveer … and then, dammit, it smells like a clarinet!!!!!!!!! Not the most intense, but one of the most entertaining of the Genesis suite. The alcohol’s not particularly hot, but because the rest of the wine is more slender, with lower fruit levels, that 14% still seems overt here. Answer? Wait five years. Or pretend it’s an oboe. Whatever it is, and whatever I think, will be two very different things once you have a wine like this in your glass. It will take your heart away.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2006 (14% alcohol; 96+++ points) is probably one of the great Shiraz wines of history. Anywhere. After many hours of air, it still begrudgingly begins to release shards of fruit of impenetrable depth and compression. It has the usual mace and anise and whatnot, but in a wine of this promise and provenance, who gives a damn? Everything else is here, so why not them? The only disconcerting thing is the tension of its compression: it’s like my buddy George Grainger Aldridge folding his vast frame into an economy seat. There’s a pallet of this put aside somewhere. I hope they keep it buried for another decade, at least. It reminds me of the Paul Jaboulet Ainée 1961 La Chappelle Hermitage.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2007 was not released. The vintage was not up to standard.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2008 (14% alcohol; 94+++ points) is heavy metal. Death metal. I know of few wines so strangely, deliciously metallic. It is welder’s flux, with the phosphoric acid of Coca Cola gnawing away at the blood pudding away below. Not swearing it’s there, but you get my drift. Juniper berry tannin. Then there’s a range of fleshy flavours which kinda swoop in heroically like the Valkyrie or something off a Wagner single. Sabayon, fudge, chocolate crème caramel are suddenly there as cushioning agents. Come, sweet agents, cushion me! Which all should serve to warn you that this wine needs to be left snoring for a decade more. Very black magic.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2009 (14% alcohol; 95+++ points) is a softer, more fleshy wine from the hellfire and brimstone of a vintage which saw many dead across the Alps of Victoria. While the flavours are much tighter and more sinuous than the bouquet would indicate, with blacksnake acid and blackdust tannins, there’s a wallow of softer, much more cuddlepot fruit over the top, making the wine remind me of Welcome To Woop Woop. This is the most approachable Genesis of the more recent years. Which is never to say it’s a pushover.
Castagna Genesis Beechworth Shiraz 2010 (13% alcohol; 96+++ points) The time for rewriting is past. “Impossible to understand,” my notes verbote, “at this its obscene zygotic mystification. Face cream. Blackberry leaf. Carbon and black granite. Tourmaline. Totally barren of sensuality and flesh. Gunbarrells. Not one skerrick of humour. NOT FUNNY AT ALL.”
So let that be a lesson to you. My advice is NEVER miss a tasting of Castagna Genesis or anything else from that bonnie vineyard up on the rocky shoulder of Australia itself. Just buy the wine and put it away and hope you don’t die too fast. It is indeed about as good as we get from single vineyard Shiraz. On Earth. If you think I’m wrong, there’s only one reason I can think of. We did this tasting on a root day. Fair dinkum. A root day. We miscalculated. Too much Full Moon.
Campbell Mattinson – Wine front
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2010
This is less exuberant than previous releases; more reserved. It’s like there’s an inner confidence at play here; like the wines know they’re good, and don’t feel the need to say it so loudly. There’s still the violetty, spicy, aniseedy perfume. Part of this was matured in a concete egg, so essentially less of the wine has seen oak (slightly). This has a sinewy character that I’ve not seen in Genesis before. Buoyant but not voluptuous. A little more strictness. Castagna’s reds have always been so sexy; there’s a button or two extra been left buttoned here. Long, spicy, meaty finish.
Castagna La Chiave Sangiovese 2010
Australia’s best sangiovese – I’d argue.
This release is a wine of delicate power. Delicate flavour, torrid tannin, yet it all somehow melts together. Dark cherry, toast, rose petals, spice. Whisper of eucalypt. Clever smoky oak. This is a super wine. It sounds like a funny thing to say but you can tell, with the 2010 Castagna reds, that with this year the long drought had broken. The wines are calmer. Their natural sexiness seems more sophisticated; more at ease.
Castagna Sparkling Allegro 2009
Daringly dry. So much crushed herb and spice. So textural and creamy yet chalky and dry too. Earthen. Pippy cherries. Not fruity, and yet powerful, full-bodied. Wonderful style of food wine. Crying out for salami and bread. A thoroughly individual wine.
Philip White – Indailty Adelaide & drinkster.blogspot.com
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2010
Make a pie of whole berries of blackcurrant and blueberry, with a few junipers thrown in. Sneak some really peppery watercress in there somehow: maybe layer the bottom pastry with it before you spread the fruit on there – the pepper in this wine is watercress pepper, not peppercorn pepper. It has some anise, some licorice, some smote granite, some trippy petrichor, and the whole thing about this wine is the adventure, anyway, not the flavour. It’s science fiction, with much ozone oozing bluely from simmering electric connections. Like nuclear fuel rods glowering in the cooling brine. After it’s prickled and twitched your nostrils right up past the Jacobsen’s Organ, it goes kinda velvety and says everything’s all right. Don’t believe a word of it. You’re suckered. The Alien lives within you now.
Castagna La Chiave 2010
This is Australia’s best Sangiovese. Ever. It is precise, brilliant and intense. That’s not saying a lot, but it makes my forehead fall to a supportive palm, while my breathe spills its marvels all over my desk. I have never exhaled a more satisfactory miasma born of the blood of St Jove. Which means the chiave, the lock, the latch, is open. Which makes me think of Chios, the Ægean island famous over the millennia for its wine. Not to mention the Teacher’s Chair of Homer. A liquor of sublime elegance, demeanour and poise. No further message.
Castagna Un Segreto 2010
One of the pointiest wines I’ve smelt in recent aeons, this is a new thing. Nobody’s done this so well and jumpingly before, and if they did, it’d probly be by genetic modification and a failure. But this has been grown outa the granite and sandstone ground from two sorts of right royal grape vine types, Sangiovese and Shiraz. It is alive, like carbon is alive when it’s on the paws of a giant Black Panther who is pacing on account of the inconvenience of the cage. The edgy reek of its sweat, which is white and salty on its muscular blackness. Back and forth, back and forth, up and down. The Juniper berry’s here again, but it’s really as much the smell of the bark of its tree on the heath there all the way from London down to the gin factory at Plymouth. Cat-scratching music, please. With some well-polished tack riding past. You can let it out to feed forever on the vast veldt of your sensories. In other words, Black Panther (cat not cat) stalks girls on horses, and boys who sometimes think them gals look good. You all deserve it. Stunning
During our 2011 open day, journalist Philip White, undoubtedly Australia’s most literate and erudite wine writer visited us. His BlogSpot which is always the must-read blog of wine and wine politics in Australia gives us his take on Castagna and reviews the latest release wine; it’s worth a read: http://drinkster.blogspot.com/
Of interest those who still have some Castagna 2001 Genesis tucked away
Other highlights of the trip included an afternoon hanging out with Julian Castagna in Beechworth. Sage, rebel, iconoclast, drinker, thinker, talker, vigneron and the producer of some of the most deliciously savoury, mineral, complex and grown up wines I tasted all trip. On my last night in Sydney someone pulled out a Castagna 2001 Genesis Syrah. We were also drinking a very good Cote Rotie from 2000 (I can’t remember who from), and side by side, you couldn’t tell the two glasses apart.
Winetec – Tim Wildman MW
Julian Castagna has created a wicked rosé mistress of layered complexity like no other. She beckons you forth by opening with a perfume of sweet pink musk followed by a gentle puff of smoke. Soft and playful on the palate, she kisses you with sugared almond lips dusted with vanilla icing. Texturally, Madame rosé has got curves in all the right places and in the right proportions with that final flavoured flush of rose water pinning you down for another glass.
La Donna del Vino
The English Financial Times is undoubtedly one of the world’s great newspapers – arguably the world’s very best. Its journalists have a reputation for great knowledge and expertise in the field they write about. Indeed much of what I know about the wines of Bordeaux I learned from Edmund Penning-Rowswell who was their long time wine correspondent before Jancis Robinson took over. So it is indeed flattering when the current correspondent names me in amongst the 12 best winemakers in Australia.
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2006
The pure-Viognier Ingénue, the Sangiovese based La Chiave, and the Sangiovese/Syrah Un Segreto all merit glowing notes, nut this 2006 Syrah stands out even in that lofty company. Few Australians have a more European winemaking sensibility than Julian Castagna. Freshness, finesse, and elegance are all part of the Castagna promise, but the floral lift and notes of cade, leather, spruce, and spice lend this wine an extra enchantment that the Italian varietals haven’t quite yet retained. Those aromatic notes cascade through the palate, too, buffering the bright, poised fruits.
Issue 28, The World of Fine Wine
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2005 – From Full Pour
This wine, from Beechworth, is like a bolt from the blue, expressing the most clearly defined idea of Shiraz imaginable, and seeming to set the pace for an entire region. It’s the sort of confidently styled wine I believe we need more of.
An explosion of complexity on the nose. Meat stock, sour cherries, nougat, smashed black peppercorns, blackberries and ripe canes. There’s a nice balance between the elements, and a nice topography to the aroma profile; unlike some wines that show seamlessness above all else, this wine isn’t afraid to allow its components to stand out. I like its vibe now; in time, perhaps it will show some different, more settled faces. It’s dense and savoury, expressive and perhaps a bit of a show-off, which would be bothersome if it didn’t have such wonderful things to say.
In the mouth, initially quite tannic. I’ve let it sit in the glass for a couple of hours and, though it remains a structured, tight experience, it is starting to unfold. Give this time. On entry, a freely expressive, textural caress of sour cherry. The middle palate shows stunning complexity; there’s so much going on here and, as with the nose, it’s not seamless so much as intricate and full of tension. Often we value flow and harmony in wine, but this is a lesson in counterpoint, contradiction and angularity. The after palate and finish show a particular glow of fruit and oak that smooth some of the mid-palate’s edges and help the wine to achieve a gentle resolution. A very, very long finish, sour cherry reverberating through a framework of gentle oak and brambles.
What a fantastic wine.
[Some Reviews from the Big Red Wine Book]
Best Organic/Biodynamic Red – Castagna Genesis Syrah 2006
Julian Castagna never seems to make a bad wine. He runs a great (biodynamic) vineyard and is clearly a wizard in the winery. This 2006 Genesis is tannic and sturdy and serious, and yet it’s rich with complex flavour. In short, it has a specialness to it. Pour it into a big glass and you find yourself mesmerized. It makes you fall in love with Aussie wine all over again.
Castagna Genesis Syrah
A fascinating biodynamic wine, made in minute quantities.
A wine of character – even drama, it’s not as exotic as the 2004 and 2005 releases, though the quality is equally as high. It tastes of anise, back-strap leather, smoky, cedary oak and dense, dark blackberries. It’s taut, dry and meaty too. Orange-rind characters, from fruit, not oak, add a certain X-factor – simply an outstanding wine.
DRINK 2012-2019. 96 Points
Castagna Un Segreto
This is a blend of sangiovese and shiraz. It sets the benchmark for what is possible for this blend in Australia. Just smelling it is a joy.
Exuberant, complex, sexy as all hell, and remarkably, every time you take a sip, you taste or smell something different. That’s what marks its quality; that’s why, in its own way, it’s worth every penny. It has flavours of fennel, cherry, plums eucalypt, spice and dried herbs. There are minor signs of attractive, smoky oak too. But really – put all these flavours and scents together and you have something more than the components suggest – it is simply a brilliant wine.
DRINK 2012-2019, Points 96
Castagna La Chiave Sangiovese
All of Castagna’s beautiful wines are grown, made, matured and bottled on the Castagna home estate.
Australian wine is renowned for its sweet, fruit flavour but you’ll barely find any sweetness here. It’s 100 per cent ripe though. It’s lean, tight with tannin, savoury and dry, with flavours of roasted meats, dark cherries, gunsmoke, gumleaf and Asian spices. There’s a right, joyful sprightliness to this wine, in the context of its obvious, brooding seriousness.
DRINK 2012-2019. Points 94
Castagna 2008 Ingénue
At a recent comparative tasting of Australian Viognier, Max Allen wrote:
“…the best ones displayed characters that spoke less of the variety and more of the terroir of the vineyard. The 2008 Castagna Viognier, (Castagna 2008 Ingénue) for example, had beguiling floral perfume – like lilies – but also a remarkable, firm spine of minerality so typical of other grape varieties planted in the cool granite soils of Beechworth.”
[Some reviews from America]
From Vinography – Alder Yarrow
2007 Adam’s Rib “The White” White Blend, Beechworth, Australia
Light green-gold in the glass, this wine has a wonderful nose of lemongrass and cucumber with a nice floral overtone and a hint of nuttiness with more air. In the mouth it is beautifully floral with tropical fruits, hints of melon, and a wonderful apple quality borne on a base of nice acidity that morphs to slight spiciness in the finish. An unusual blend of roughly 70% Chardonnay, 30% Viognier.
Score: between 9 and 9.5
2008 Castagna “Ingénue” Viognier, Beechworth, Australia
Light green-gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of peaches and fresh apricots with a hint of vanilla flowers. In the mouth it is fresh and bright, with wonderful peach and apricot fruit, bright acidity and a lovely grassy note on the finish. Excellent acidity and near-perfect balance allow this wine to dance a fine line between weightiness and delicacy.
Score: between 9 and 9.5
2006 Adams Rib “The Red” Red Blend, Beechworth, Australia
Medium to dark ruby in the glass, this wine has a bright floral nose of cranberry, cherry and violets. In the mouth it is juicy and spicy, with a light tannic structure and great acid. It walks the line between a light Syrah and a Pinot in a really wonderful way, borrowing raspberry and cassis from each respectively. Very interesting. 40% Syrah, 60% Pinot Noir.
Score:between 8.5 and 9
2008 Adams Rib “The Red” Red Blend, Beechworth, Australia
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of cherry and dried flowers. On the palate it is soft and delicate, with a very nice floral aspect and raspberry and cherry flavors with light tannins that emerge after several mouthfuls. At first I thought this wine was a bit simple, but the more I drink it, the more I think it is fabulously subtle and delicate. Really interesting. 70% Nebbiolo, 30% Shiraz.
Score: around 9
2005 Castagna “Un Segreto” Red Blend, Beechworth, Australia
Dark ruby in color, this wine has a nose of cherry, dark chocolate, and a nice sweet wood incense character. In the mouth it is bright and velvety with powdery tannins. Flavors of cherry, cocoa powder, raspberry and sandalwood linger in a long finish. An unusual blend of Sangiovese and Shiraz.
Score: around 9
2006 Castagna “Un Segreto” Red Blend, Beechworth, Australia
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherries and cinnamon, or some other pungent spice. In the mouth it feels broad with cherry and cocoa powder and nutmeg flavors that morph to a wonderful woody spiciness in a long finish. Muscular, well-structured tannins linger along with the finish. A blend of Sangiovese and Shiraz.
Score: around 9
2002 Castagna “La Chiave” Sangiovese, Beechworth, Australia
Medium to dark ruby in color, with hints of brown at the edge, this wine has a wonderful caramel and cherry nose with hints of coffee. In the mouth it is gorgeously supple, with beautiful silkiness married to powdery, broad tannins. Wonderfully sweet cherry fruit (sweet in aroma only) backed by sandalwood and earth, along with that sweetness linger in the finish.
Score: between 9 and 9.5
2005 Castagna “Genesis” Shiraz Viognier, Beechworth, Australia
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of gorgeous cassis fruit wafting in a breeze of night blooming jasmine. In the mouth it is fantastically rich without somehow being heavy. Expansive, the wine spreads quickly across the palate and then hangs in a thrumming cloud of cassis, blueberry smoke, earth, and a delicate floral aspect that lingers with the finely powdered tannins in the finish.
Score: around 9.5
2006 Castagna “Genesis” Shiraz Viognier, Beechworth, Australia
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and a lightly spicy aroma. In the mouth this wine has a wonderful cassis and mexican chocolate quality, with wonderful powdery tannins and a woody stemmy sense that lingers in the finish along with a sweetness that is charming. Rich without jamminess, powerful without being thick, this is a wonderful wine.
Score: around 9.5
2001 Castagna “Genesis” Shiraz Viognier, Beechworth, Australia
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of leather and dried cherries and dried flowers. In the mouth it is incredibly juicy and alive with bright fruit married to dried fruit and dried flowers. So beautifully balanced, and suffused with an aromatic sweetness, the wine is nearly impossible to spit out. Really delicious even minutes later as the powdery tannins linger with that juicy sweetness still on the palate. While the wine is clearly drinking well, it seems likely to last, if not improve over another 10 years.
Score: between 9.5 and 10
From eRobertParker.com – Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
2008 Castagna Adam’s Rib ‘The Red’
An intriguing blend of 60% Nebbiolo and 40% Syrah, the 2008 Adam’s Rib ‘The Red’ possesses a medium to deep garnet color and incredibly fragrant aromas of violets, fresh herbs and ripe cherries plus a touch of tea leaves and anise. Concentrated flavors are offset by crisp acidity and a medium level of chewy tannins. The finish is long. Approachable now, this wine has the potential to develop over 4 to 5 years and should drink through 2020+. 91 points
2008 Castagna Adam’s Rib ‘The White’
The 2008 Adam’s Rib ‘The White’ is a blend of 65-70% Chardonnay with Viognier accounting for most of the remaining proportion. Aromas of apricots, poached pear and honeysuckle lead to clean, pure stone fruit flavors plus a nice bit of phenolic pull on the full-bodied palate. A little tropical / pineapple character comes through in the long finish. This is one to drink now and enjoy over the next 2 to 3 years. 90 points
The Adam’s Rib range, made by Julian’s son, is designed to offer more affordable, earlier drinking wines.
2008 Castagna Allegro Rose
The 2008 Allegro Rose will be of interest to anyone seeking a serious wine of this style. Produced from 100% Syrah, the same fruit that goes into the Genesis label, it has a very pale salmon pink color and a lovely, funky / gamey nose with ripe cherries and a spot of dried herbs. The acidity is crisp in the mouth and there’s just a suggestion of tannins with a good intensity of savory fruit that grows in the mid-palate and lends a long finish. For drinking now, this will keep another year or so but will not improve. 91 points
2008 Castagna Ingénue
The 2008 Ingénue is 100% Viognier, barrel fermented in 1- to 5-year-old barrels. It reveals pretty honeysuckle and white peach scents with nuances of white pepper, coriander seed and anise. The rich, full-bodied, silken textured palate is balanced by high acidity that enlivens throughout the long, spicy finish. 91 points
2006 Castagna Genesis Syrah
The 2006 Genesis Syrah has a very deep garnet purple color and lovely dark cherry and fresh blackberry aromas with some pepper, toasted nut and cinnamon stick plus a hint of bacon rind. There’s a medium level of fine tannins in the mouth with medium-high acid and a nice peppery character going into the long finish with notes of anise. This wine can be enjoyed now or cellared through 2019. 92 points
2005 Castagna Un Segreto
The 2005 Un Segreto was the first vintage of this label. Blended of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah and aged in 50% new oak, it is deep garnet colored with alluring lifted red berry / sour cherry aromas plus supporting notes of tea leaves, rose hips, anise and some underbrush. Medium-high acid cuts through the ripe, rich fruit and the medium to firm level of chewy tannins. The finish is long and complex. The wine is beginning to drink now but should continue to open and soften over 5-7 years and drink through 2022. 93 points
2006 Castagna Un Segreto
The 2006 Un Segreto is the same varietal blend yet just a touch more intense and complex. Deep garnet in color with a youthful purple tinge, it reveals aromas of licorice and tar over dark cherry, espresso, dark chocolate, roasted nuts, tobacco and stewed tea plus the faintest whiff of balsamic. The palate is full and rich providing medium-high acid and a medium level of chewy tannins. Very long in the finish, this wine is expressive and drinking nicely now yet suggests it has the potential to open-out even more over the next 5 to 7 years and should drink well into 2021+. 94 points
Castagna 2006 Un Segreto
This epitomises the benefit of astute blending to capture terroir in a new guise. It’s a blend of sangiovese and shiraz from this Beechworth estate, it smells of fine silvery minerals and sweet-spiced plums. The palate adds peppery notes to plum and cherry fruit and tannins sweep and twirl long through the finish. Dynamic and complex in every way – a benchmark.
Wine – Gourmet Traveller
Castagna 2006 Un Segreto
Castagna’s Un Segreto red is a blend of sangiovese and syrah. It’s already the benchmark for what is possible for this blend in Australia. Brilliant wine. Exuberant, sexy-as-all-hell and dazzling in its complexity. Flavours of fennel, cherry, plums, eucalypt, spice and dried herbs. Positive signs of attractive, smoky oak too. But really – put all these flavours and scents together and you have something far more than the components suggest. There’s a seductive sense of sweet-savoury theatre to this
Campbell Mattinson WIne Front – 96 Points
Best Italian Varietal – 2006 Castagna Un Segreto
Julian Castagna at his intelligent and articulate best, this blend of sangiovese with some spicy, fragrant Beechworth shiraz is exactly the kind of wine that will take Australia into the next phase of international acclaim.
Penguin Wine Guide 2010
2006 Castagna Un Segreto
Here we see a blend of sangiovese and shiraz, all from Castagna’s Beechworth property, showing darker colour in the glass than the Chiave and sweeter spiced plum fruits. The palate mixes peppery plum and cherry flavour with complex anise-driven spice flavours and the same long, extended tannins running deep through the finish. Lovely balance and drive – very complete and even. Beautifully conceived and masterfully blended.
96 Points, Nick Stock- Penguin Wine Guide 2010
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2006
This 2006 release of Castagna Genesis Syrah caught me by surprise. It’s a different beast to the exotically perfumed 2004 and 2005 releases. Then again, the vintage itself was a different beast. Minute quantities. The Castagna estate vineyard all told produced only 10 barrels of red wine in 2006. Taut, tight, meaty wine. Great length. Not as exotic in its spice and fragrance as we’ve seen from Genesis Syrah over the past couple of years, but no lesser in quality. Less fun and frolics; more drama. Anise, backstrap leather, long fine tannin, spicy length. Outstanding wine. Clear, bright flavour. Blackberries but no tar. Orange rind characters from fruit, not oak. Adds that extra something. Power and thrust. Outstanding.
96 points, Campbell Mattinson – Wine Front
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2006
This has dark, brooding, granitic spice and has had time to integrate nicely. Viognier, oak and technique are all led out of the glass by site-driven characters – dark plum and fragrant cherry fruits, some pepper and grilled meats too. The palate makes a fine, medium-weight impression, delivering spiced dark plum flavour on a bed of fine, savoury tannin that runs deep through a dark chocolate-flavoured finish.
96 points, Nick Stock – Penguin Wine Guide 2010
Castagna La Chiave 2006
Castagna’s La Chiave sangiovese 2006 takes ’seriousness’ in Australian sangiovese to a different level. It has the same lean, tight profile as the Genesis Syrah of the same vintage though in the end it presents quite differently. It’s nothing but ripe and yet there’s barely any trace of sweetness here. Roasted meats, dark cherries, gunsmoke, gumleaf and asian spices. That’s the flavour profile. Has lovely acidity, cleansing and natural and appropriate to the overall wine. Will hold it in excellent stead. Needs time for the tannin to resolve itself; but it will. Aftertaste is immensely savoury. A strong, robust, serious wine.
94+ points, Campbell Mattinson – Wine Front
Castagna La Chiave 2006
Sangiovese is a passion of Julian Castagna and he is immensely proud of his single-site expression. It has superb freshness and clarity of fruit on the nose, red cherries with spice and bracken-like complexity; the oak is super discreet. The palate has juicy, fine tannins that wrench savoury chew throughout, plenty of dark, briary berry flavour and a little more oak seen here. The finish is resoundingly savoury, driven by those long tannins and juicy acid spring.
94 points, Nick Stock – Penguin Wine Guide 2010
Castagna Sparking Genesis 2005 – 3rd Disgorgement
This 3rd disgorgement, due for Christmas (this year – 2009) release, spent three years on lees and had a dosage level of 11 grams of sugar. In Australian sparkling reds terms, this is an extremely low dosage (probably a third of the average dosage level, as an educated guess). As with the initial release of this wine this third disgorgement is spicy and ripe but is mostly characterised by both its long ropes of tannin, and by its distinct dryness. There’s a tremendous amount of anise and blackberry-like flavour and perhaps a whisper of mint too. I was quite stunned by the quality of this wine. It’s fresh, powerful, immensely well structured and long. It will live and develop for a very long time.
97 points, Campbell Mattinson – Wine Front
Castagna Sparking Genesis 2005 – 2nd Disgorgement
Julian Castagna’s take on sparking shiraz includes a dose of viognier and this has plenty of the trademark exotic Castagna aromas on show. With peppery spicy granite smells, dried plums and plenty of woody spices, it breathes up a treat. The palate has the same set of spiced plum characters, a hint of dark chocolate and a balanced, just-sweet finish – Disgorged October 2008.
93 points, Nick Stock – Penguin Wine Guide 2010
Castagna 2008 Ingénue
Reckon I’ve tasted each of the Castagna Ingénue Viogniers made so far, but it seems that I rarely review them. Not sure why because I always enjoy them; though they can be difficult to get your head around. Probably answered my own question there. Beautifully aromatic. This belongs, at least on the nose, in the hedonistic class of viognier. Ginger, almonds, apricots blossoms – it’s hard to pin it all down, but it’s floral and spicy and dramatic. Taste it and the parade continues, with a powerful array of flavours driving through the palate. Fennel and ginger and melons, with some smoky honey-like oak in support. Lots of length – pungent and pure. Taut and dry. Lots going on.
Campbell Mattinson WIne Front – 94 Points
Castagna Allegro 2008
Pale red in colour, Castagna’s shiraz rosé is in handy form with this 2008 vintage – it smells of fine red fruits and has his trademark cool, spicy lift. On the palate it’s full of rich texture and palate weight, really round and really good. Long, fresh red fruit finish.
93 Points, Nick Stock – Penguin Wine Guide 2010
Castagna Allegro 2008
This is probably the best rosé I’ve had, excluding the odd Crystal or Krug. No cavities in this one, though: it’s pure cool smooth stone-shaped beauty, like a Brancusi head. It smells like the caramel aroma of roasting crayfish shells. With an absolute gush of rosy fruits and petals, from blood orange to cherry nougat. It’s syrupy, but before you begin to think that, there’s lemon and crisp white plum, and then there’s the fine stony tannins, and then there’s the maraschino crunch, and pickled orange peel, like Campari, and saffron. It finishes dry, but you never feel cheated like most dry drinks make you feel if they’re much short of perfect. Hang on. It’s not shaped like a Brancusi head. It’s shaped like a bullet.
Phillip White – Drinkster 95+ points
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2005
This wine has the pure Aussie scent of the bush, so nakedly beautiful it’s a pleasure just to smell it. Those exotic forest aromas cascade through the flavors as well, cushioned by a luxurious texture that sustains the purity and elegance of the wine. A little viognier in the blend brings up the white upper scents, adding high soprano to the earthy harmony. For lamb, rare lamb, with bones to chew on.
Joshua Greene – Wine & Spirits USA 95 Points
The best Genesis yet released. It’s a pearler. I just love the proportions of it: the way it slings to all corners of the mouth, washing flavours of kirsch, smoke, chocolate, concentrated blackberry/blueberry and warm summer cherries. Ropes of tannin keep it firm. Drinking it is an exercise in both indulgence and elegance. There are some who believe this wine is as good as any Shiraz wine ever made in this country.
The Big Red Wine Book – 97 points
Genesis is an enigmatic puzzle of flavours. It has nuances of hand dried sausage, charcuterie, seaweed and fresh, rolled tobacco, in the most flattering proportions. With more than a nod to the Rhône Valley in France, this is Cornas-style, Clape-shaped creation. It’s a heroic wine for classicists only.
Taste Food & Wine 2009 – Matthew Jukes – Tyson Stelzer
Biodynamic advocate and one of the stars of the Beechworth region, Julian Castagna is a whiz when it comes to seasoning his shiraz with a little viognier. He’s of the strong opinion that viognier best serves shiraz as a catalyst, not a competitor. Roasted game meats, spices and floral notes, plum fruits, this is dynamic and full of verve, building to sweet ethereal spices, Szechuan pepper and moist earth. Plenty of weight and complexity on the palate already too, brown spices, red fruits and juicy tannins fan out with convincing depth and sweet mid-palate presence.
Nick Stock 94 points
On the same wine
The 2001, 2002 and 2004 wines under this label are all quite beautiful, but I dare say that this tops them all. It’s certainly the most complete wine yet released by Castagna. It’s beautifully integrated, beautifully proportioned, full of indulgent flavour and then lengthy through the finish. Imagine chomping on a mix of roast pan juices, blueberries, dry chocolates, roast meats and cedarwood, the lot covered in a squishy mix of perfectly ripened blackberries. Yes, I’m a fan.
Drink: 2011-2019. 96 pointsCampbell Mattinson | Wine Front
This is the best Genesis I have ever tasted. It’s absolutely buzzing with pepper and exotic spices of all kinds, swirling with plum and black berry fruit, accented with stabs of savoury complexity. The tannins are super fine and the finish is nothing short of phenomenal. Sell the kids if you have to, but don’t miss this wine!
WBM100 – Tyson Stelzer – 96
Castagna Un Segreto 2005
Is a single vineyard Sangiovese/Shiraz which blew my socks off when I tasted it a couple of weeks ago. Castagna told me that, in his opinion, this particular blend will become one of the wines for which Australia will become known, provided that the grapes are grown in a cool climate. Hope so based on this tasting – here’s my note: A deep aubergine hue with a nose of bright yet earthy raspberry and red cherry. In the mouth, it’s fresh and very spicy with dark, savoury, liquorice notes to its plum, raspberry and cherry fruit. But the freshness is the thing here. It has a mineral sluiced acidity and freshness which gives lovely length. The seamlessness of the blend and tannins enhance the flow and a subtly fruit saturated finish is shot through with spice, liquorice and dried, like incense. Just gorgeous and so very digestible.
Sarah Ahmed – The Wine Detective
Castagna Un Segreto 2005
Julian Castagna usually makes a super premium sangiovese (called La Chiave) but the 2005 vintage proved too much of a temptation. He believes that sangiovese/shiraz blends could be the future of Australian wine, and for a few years he’s wanted to make a top-tier version to help establish this point. This 2005 does so emphatically. The sweet, supple generosity of shiraz and the tangy, savoury excitement of sangiovese. It sounds good and tastes even better. Kirsch, smoke, hazelnuts, menthol, ground spice, both sour and sweet blackberries – it’s a fascinating parade of flavours. Outstanding wine.
TheBig Red Wine Book – 94 points
We short-listed more than 200 alternative reds for our book – all the Italian varieties plus Zin, Durif, and anything else that didn’t fit Pinot, Merlot, Grenache, Shiraz or Cabernet. The entire line-up was an absolute disaster! We only found three wines, and this was a star by light years. In a world of Australian-made Italian varietals, where most winemakers are completely deluded about the quality of their wines, Julian Castagna is a beacon. In spite of its price, Un Segreto is utterly world-class. Delightfully savoury and complex with a bouquet of exotic spices and spankingly fresh leather, this unlikely blend forces you to revisit the glass more than any wine in this book because it compels you to attempt to unlock the secret. Good luck!
Taste Food & Wine 2009 – Matthew Jukes – Tyson Stelzer
With all the tales of doom and woe about the challenges facing Australian wine producers, from drought to the ever rising value of the Australian dollar, it’s good to know that some producers are continuing to push the boundaries in the name of innovation, excellence, and just being that little bit different. And to hell with the consequences. It’s those producers who make me buzz and fizz with excitement about what the future can hold in store for Australia and the country’s wines, and it’s those producers who make me feel proud to be a part of the wine “industry”.
I’ve been thinking about this all day having tasted the first release of a “Super Beechworth” wine from Julian Castagna. It’s a Sangiovese (60%)/Shiraz (40%) blend and it is one of the best young wines I’ve had. It’s the kinda wine I don’t think I’d ever tire of drinking, and if I had the funds, I’d be drinking a bottle or two every week. It’s a wine that expresses the possibilities of Australia’s up and coming wine regions, whilst demonstrating the beauty of medium-bodied, food friendly reds that still speak of Australian vibrancy, freshness and fruit flavour. It’s a wine of character and complexity that should inspire, and create debate in equal measure.
This was tasted for the first time at 8pm, having been opened, double decanted, and then left in a decanter for about 2 hours. It was still opening up in the glass at 10pm. Dark, ruby red, the wine’s vitality shone from the glass. The aromas darted around between kirsch cherries, cinnamon, cloves, cedar, salami, earth, gun smoke. Complex and beguiling. Medium bodied and velvet smooth flavours of juicy, sweet red cherries and raspberries on the front palate gave way to liquorice, red bramble fruit, dried herbs, cedar. Wow. Not one of those out-weighed another. The juicy fruit flavours are so well balanced by the savoury, mineral tones that run through the wine.
The raspy Sangiovese tannins kicked in towards the finish which is dry, and long. Wow.
On the same wine
“Outstanding wine. Strong, straight, and savoury. Full of character and tannin. Gorgeously persistent – you can’t shut it up – it keeps on talking to you. Flavours of kirsch, smoke, ground spice, hazelnuts, menthol, sour and sweet berried fruit. I love it. It’s fascinating. Drink: 2008-2016. 95 points.
Campbell Mattinson – Wine Front
“Sumptuous and searingly intense, this ‘Super Beechworth’ of 60% sangiovese has a wild, heady perfume of plums, cherries and small berries backed by musky nuances of charcuterie meats, sweet oak and a suggestion of currants. Underpinned by firm, bony and finely astringent tannins, its sumptuous, velvet-smooth palate delivers deep flavours of plums, blackberries and dark cherries tightly knit with fine-grained and spicy oak. It finishes long and savoury, with lingering dark fruits and minerality. 96 points, drink 2013-2017”
Alice Feiring in her wonderful, idiosyncratic book “How I save the world from Parkerization” writing about the Syrah grape says:
‘It showed up in Australia, where it is called Shiraz, at the end of the 18th century, and became the country’s most planted grape. I have found one – count’em – one Shiraz in all of Australia that I actually like. This is Castagna. After I tasted it, I learnt that it was growing biochemically. Unlike most wines from Australia, Castagna has no perceptible new oak and the grapes are not pushed to the limit of their ripeness. Interestingly enough, Julian Castagna calls his wine Syrah, not Shiraz. The vintner is eager distance himself from the overblown, spoofulated Shirazes to which Robert Parker awards such enthusiastic copy and points.’
Castagna Sparkling Genesis 2005
The bouquet was charming and captivating; multiple berry aromas dominate the red spectrum fruit that combined with moderate but noticeable apricot character. The palate shows wonderful complexity, sweet strawberry, raspberry, subtle black spectrum flavours and apricot on the tail. An elegant, classy, top-quality Sparkling Shiraz that maintains the perfect balance of sweetness; and in this case its all fruit sweetness (rather than coming from the dosage.) Finishes with terrific length and persistence, it joins the ranks of top FRS producers…
This new wine goes straight to the top of the Australian sparkling red tree. It ’s rare that top-quality Shiraz is used to make sparkling Shiraz even rarer that top-quality Shiraz used has come from a coolish climate. This wine shows the way forward for sparkling Shiraz. Its spicy ripe, dry, has structure and elegance and – essential for a sparkling red – sex appeal. The thing that sets this apart is that it combines spicy complexity with dry, structured elegance with ripe fruit appeal.
The Big Red Wine Book – 96 points
On the same wine
The best sparkling red I have tried this year though is Castagna’s Sparkling Genesis 2005. This could one day be regarded as the finest sparkling red ever produced in Australia – I’ve drunk a lot of sparkling red over the past 15 years, and I reckon it surpasses everything I have tried. As a young wine it manages elegance and power superbly, mixing spicy, peppery, cedary notes with sexy blackberries and dark cherries and kirsch. Never has such good oak handling been shown in an Aussie sparkling red – this is a new era for the style. It’s also dry and structured – another point of difference. The one and only problem with this wine is that it’s extremely, extremely rare.
Campbell Mattinson – December 2007
Vive la difference! Here is a much cooler expression of sparkling Shiraz. Some green peppercorns in the mix, plenty of spice, the bubbles seem to heighten the fragrance and complexity. Castagna has captured super rich berry/cherry fruit, liquorice and his trademark fine soft tannins.
WBM100 – Nick Stock – 93
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2004
This Beechworth shiraz has quickly and deservedly become an icon but it sells quickly and may already be hard to find. With Giaconda, it makes an eloquent case for Beechworth as one of our greatest shiraz regions. A glorious shiraz (with a dash of viognier), it’s beautifully elegant, refined, spicy to sniff and aromatic throughout. Not a big wine by today’s standards, it nevertheless has great intensity and length of palate. 95/100″
Huon Hook – SMH wine of the week
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2005
Here’s a very ripe, finely crafted and deeply flavoured shiraz from one of Beechworth’s key makers. Sporting more overt ripeness than previous vintages, but retaining that all-important length of vibrant fruit flavour, it manages to avoid over-cooked influences. Its heady, spicy aromas of black pepper, dark plums, cassis and blackberries integrated nearly with mocha-like oak and meaty, forest floor undertones. Dark and briary, it’s firm, fine-grained and powdery, delivering an excellent length of sour-edged fruit and a hint of minerality that culminate in a long, savoury finish. 18.7/95, drink 2013-2017+”
Castagna La Chiave 2004
La Chiave or ‘The key” is undoubtedly the highest quality Sangiovese made in Australia, and by a country mile. My last brush with a Sangiovese of this quality was in Montalcino itself. Complex violets, sour cherries and broth combine and compete for your attention on the nose. Rich and elegant on the palate, this wine displays hints of that magical umami flavour (similar mouthfeel to drinking consommé) which is the only way I can explain the integrated silkiness and texture partially due from expert oak and tannin balance.”
Australian Wine Guide
At the very prestigious 2006 ‘Les Concours des Vins’ the Castagna 2004 Genesis Syrah was awarded one Gold Medal and the two top red Trophies!!
Campbell Mattinson in Gourmet Traveller – Wine wrote of the Castagna 2004 Genesis Syrah:
‘Put simply, it’s a fabulously explosive wine – like a locomotive of intoxicating, violet-drenched scent, carrying with it a meatiness and a pepperiness (but not excessively so), the flavours mainly of the purest of pure kirsch, blackberries, smoked pig and cedar. It is a wine with stinging, stunning, penetrating length, no alcohol heat, and exquisite oak handling. It is a complete wine, and a firm indication of just how special the Castagna vineyard really is.’
In a recent all encompassing, Australia wide, Shiraz/Viognier tasting Andrew Wood of Divine said of the Castagna 2004 Genesis Syrah:
The Big Daddy of the tasting…viognier adds complexity and at the same time lifts the shiraz to another level. In terms of purity and intensity of fruit, this towers above all the other wines reviewed. Yet it remains supremely elegant—the backbone of firm tannins running the length of the wine, spicy oak and bright acidity all combine to give the wine structure and poise. And the finish is so aromatic; you could be forgiven for thinking that you are drinking a pinot. A seriously good wine.
Jeremy Oliver said of the Castagna 2004 Genesis Syrah:
“Just had to say congratulations again on the shiraz. It is world class. If I were to try and make shiraz, this is what I would be aiming for. Luckily, I’d prefer to drink yours.”
And described it as follows:
“Its ethereal, exotically spicy and meaty bouquet of dark cherries, cassis and sweet oak reveals nuances of fennel and cloves, cinnamon and black pepper. Medium to full in weight, but likely to build, it’s an essay in elegance and focus, with a silky palate of beautifully ripened dark fruits, spices, smoky oak and powdery tannins finishing with lingering nuances of charcuterie. 95 points”
Campbell Mattinson of the same wine said:
“A bomb. An absolute beauty. A locomotice of intoxicating, violet-drenched scent, a meatiness and a pepperiness but not overtly so, the purest of pure kirsch and black berries and smoked pig and cedar, and then stinging, stunning, penetrating length. No alcohol heat. Not huge, but ripe. Exquisite oak handling. Yes. 95 points”
Campbell Mattinson – The Wine Front.
Jeremy Oliver said of the Castagna 2004 La Chiave:
“Deep, closed and brooding, this tight-fisted and astringent sangiovese should develop superbly in the bottle. Its dusty … fragrance of sour cherries, plums, chocolate and forest floor-like undertones have a floral and slightly meaty aspect. Beneath its supple core of typically sour-edged dark fruits lies a firmish spine of drying tannin. It finishes long, with dark fruit and nuances of nicotine. 95 points”
Campbell Mattinson of the same wine said:
“You need to look at this over a period of time. It’s savoury and reserved, with almond paste and blonde tobacco lurking around the main ooze of black cherry, the cedary oak far better integrated than the excellent 2002 was at the same age. Silken texture. Come back in three or four years. Drink: 2009-2015. 93 points.”
Campbell Mattinson – The Wine Front.
Castagna Ingénue 2004
World class and the best Aussie Viognier I’ve struck. It has the fragrance of a morning breeze through an apricot orchard in full blossom. Ripe yet refined; opulent, light and finely balanced. Seriously good.”
Ken Gargett, Brisbane Courier Mail – 94 points.
Castagna Allegro 2005
Julian Castagna, the Beechworth biodynamic Buddha, continues to rewrite the rules of rose with this stunning, complex, viscous tincture made wholly from shiraz. It’s almost a liqueur, such is its intensity and concentration. Think of the syrup of a salad made from diced poached pear, fresh peach and maraschino cherries, add rose petal essence and multiply.”
Philip White – The Adelaide Advertiser 94 points.
Castagna Allegro Rosé 2005 – Beechworth 93 points
“Julian Castagna is one of Australia’s most sensitive and intelligent winemakers. You don’t need to meet the man to tell, as it’s written deep into the wines he makes from his small biodynamic estate in Beechworth, Victoria. This shiraz rosé, made from a couple of dedicated foot-trodden rows and some of the juice he runs off when making the red wine, is soulful rather than flippant or sugar-coated. A terrific shade of pale red in the glass, the nose is pure red cherry and berry fruit. It smells like freshly cut strawberry rolled in a handful of stones. The palate is equally as pure, touched with the same red cherry fruits, pristine, supple and direct. He snuck a dash of Viognier into one barrel this year and blended judiciously, enriching the wine’s texture without sacrificing any purity. It’s a wine made for the table, well built with a crisp, clean finish. Just chill lightly and you’ll get the full effect.”
The Adelaide Review – Nick Stock
Castagna Ingénue 2004
At first, this viognier looks elegant and polite, decked with quite stylish apricot, peach and their pith. As it airs, a wave of lush tropicals begins to rise, and then a green salad, with cucumber, as well. It’s clean, and silky smooth, textured like grenache, with warm, breathy alcohol and fine white pepper in its pith and velvet finish. Biodynamic too.”
Philip White – Adelaide Advertiser Top 100
– 93 points.
Castagna Sauvage 2003
I like the wine a lot: I think the genius of what Castagna has done is add sangiovese… the meshing of Castagna’s naturally meaty, peppery, fragrant syrah… with the overt savoury animal characters of sangiovese have made for a wine that’s so interesting it’s difficult to put down. In effect then, the 2003 Castagna Sauvage tastes like no wine that Castagna has made before, yet it still tastes like a Castagna wine. It’s riper and fruitier, but like so many of his wines, it’s as much a conversation as a drink – and in this case, a wildly animated one.”
Campbell Mattinson, Winefront Monthly – 91 Points.
Castagna Sauvage 2003
Here’s a biodynamic shiraz that smells of much more than blackberry jam and wood. It’s a veritable stew of apples, quince, mulberry and cloves, with new aromas making a break each time you swirl it and sniff. This juicy, strapping fruit overlays a bed of broad, leathery tannins. Magnificent.”
Philip White – Adelaide Advertiser Top 100 – 94 points.
Campbell Mattinson in his publication ‘Winefront Monthly’ writing about the Shiraz Alliance,where the cream of Australian Shiraz was on show said about the ‘Castagna 2002 Genesis Syrah’
“…from a complexity sandpoint alone the 2002 Castagna put just about every other young wine served to shame.”
Max Allen commenting in The Australian magazine about the ’02 Gensis at its showing at the Shiraz Alliance in the Barossa, the heart of Australian Shiraz country, said:
“Stuart Blackwell, winemaker at St. Hallet in the Barossa, comes up to me with a look of pure joy spread across his face. Like many grape treaders in his region, he’s famous for producing bold, black shiraz from old vines. And he’s just tasted one wine among the 150 at the Shiraz Alliance conference that’s blown him away. He flicks through the catalogue in serch of its name.
“That’s the one!” he says, his eyes wide. “The 2002 Castagna Genesis. What a wine!”
I’ve tasted it already and have been following Castagna’s wines for a while now (the 2002 is easily the best he’s made), but still I wander across to have another slurp – only to find that all six bottles on the table are empty. Obviously, people have heard about and descended on it in a tasting frenzy.
I’m surprised and heartened. Surprised because the Castagna, from Beechworth in north-east Victoria, is in many ways the polar opposite of trad Barossa shiraz: it’s intense but medium-bodied, deeply flavoursome and spicy but elegant and fine. It’s even labelled “syrah” (the French name for shiraz) to set it apart from many drinkers’ expectations of what Aussie shiraz is all about.
What’s heartening is that a maker of unashamedly “big” shiraz should get so excited about such a subtle expression of the same grape.”
In August 2004, Ralph Kyte-Powell in The Age Epicure wrote of the 2002 La Chiave:
“Julian Castagna’s vineyard at Beechworth has made some very impressive wines in its relatively short life, especially a sometimes spectacular shiraz. Castagna’s sangiovese, known as La Chiave (“the key”), also has something of a cult status, but in my opinion it hadn’t hit the heights of the shiraz until this ’02 arrived. It is simply the most stupendous Australian sangiovese I’ve tasted. In some ways reminiscent of Italian Brunello, it has a super-complex bouquet of warm spice, licorice, mocha, leather and currants – a sort of vinous Siena cake. The palate is savoury yet richly concentrated, dense and beautifully textured with firm but balanced tannins. It builds with air, so decant it if you can.
Five stars – a superb example, a near perfect wine of great character, worthy of the big occasion and the best company.”
Castagna 2003 Ingénue 98/100
Castagna 2002 La Chiave 97/100
Castagna 2002 Genesis Syrah 95+/100
Colin Climo – The Bulletin, May 2004
Castagna La Chiave 2002
The best Aussie sangiovese I’ve ever tasted. It has an intense smoky, undergrowth, savoury aroma with fine background oak and deep-set dark-berry fruits. The palate has great structure and flesh, with ample fine, not-too-drying tannins and impressive length.”
Huon Hooke – ‘Indulge Yourself’ in Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Castagna Genesis 2002
At full stretch it’s medium weight, but the array of flavours, the feel in the mouth, the balance of fruit, oak, tannin and acid – and the wow factor – it’s all come together here beautifully. This is a single-vineyard, estate-grown, cool climate shiraz par excellence, with pure flavours of cherry, pencil, turkish delight, stewed plums, spice, black pepper – and the sweet essence of stony earth. The flavoursome mull of smoked smallgoods and tobacco so familiar to lovers of Castagna Genesis Syrah is here in good voice – but it’s tucked gorgeously into the swelling scene. Mouthcoating tannins finish it off – it’s got the lot.”
Campbell Mattinson – Winefront Monthly.
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2001
Stop all the clocks, unplug the telephone, give the dog a juicy bone to stop it barking… because you will not want to be distracted when you taste your first mouthful of Genesis Syrah. Neither will it be a moment you will ever want to forget. Castagna set out to make an elegant sensual wine which is a tribute to Robert Jasmin’s Côte Rôties, and he has certainly succeeded. Black pepper, nutmeg, violets and anise lead on to a poised and stylish palette which is quite unforgettable.“
Sally Gudgeon – Divine December 2003.
Castagna La Chiave 2002
Julian Castagna thinks this is the best wine he’s made, which is saying something. There are a mere 170 six packs of it, and if you whinge about the price you should take a holiday in Italy and see what you’d be paying there for such quality. The bouquet’s baffling; at different points of the afternoon I reported beetroot, yoghurt, borscht, fresh ginger, tobacco, cream and aniseed. But take the plunge into that bowl of flavour and you’re a real goner. It’s impossibly luxurious and opulent, with intense sweet fruit in perfect balance with natural acidity and fine tannin. New benchmark.
94+ Philip White – Adelaide Advertiser top 100, November 2003.
Reviewing the Castagna 2001 Genesis Syrah, in The Age Epicure section Ralph Kyte-Powell on 7 January 2003, said:
“Each year the French Chamber of Commerce hosts the Concours des Vins de Victoria, a wine competition judged by a panel of French and Australians. Recent years have seen Castagna Genesis Syrah, from picturesque Beechworth, regularly take top awards for this superb French-accented red. Proprietor Julian Castagna fashions a dream of a wine made from shiraz with a little viognier. It’s an exotic, complex, Rhone look-alike of deep berry/cherry aromas and flavours, with floral, meaty and peppery hints adding fascinating aspects. There’s a lightly gamey, earthy touch and it tastes rich yet fresh, with silky texture, real intensity and beautiful balance. Lovely. Rating 5 stars (A superb example of a near-perfect wine of great character, worthy of the big occasion and the best company).“
On 27th November 2002, for the second consecutive year, the Castagna Genesis Syrah was awarded the Gold Medal at the very prestigious le Concourse des Vins.
Those of you who have followed us from the beginning know that we have received our fair share of wonderful reviews from many wine commentators, but it gives me extra special pleasure when one of our customers writes and tell us what they think of our wine. I would like to share with you one such note.
“Seldom have I enjoyed a wine so much – we shared a bottle (very slowly I might add) of 2001 Genesis Syrah – the first time I have tried a Castagna wine. It was without question one of the finest, most deliciously made reds I have ever experienced. How is it possible to consume “just” one bottle of red between 4 people over dinner – and yet that is exactly what transpired. To rush such a wine would have been unpardonable …. to drink something else after, unthinkable”
From a Customer
“We tried a bottle of the 02 La Chiave almost as soon as we got home from our weekend in Beechworth and it was absolutely magnificent! It certainly reminded me of a Brunello, with its dense, weighty fruit matched to fine tannins. Over a few hours, the fruit gradually gave a little way to some delicious game and leather, very reminiscent of some of the great Grand Cru burgundies that I have tried.”
From a Melbourne Customer
Here is a little feedback from a Frenchman born in the Rhone Valley and who had his taste buds shaped by the very best of Côte Rôtie and Burgundian masterpieces.
“I must admit that I approached Aussie shiraz with utter disdain. Kangurus making wine? Well, I was wrong. Aussies now have a second-to-none place in my cellar. Some many pure gems…Your Castagna Genesis Shiraz 2001 was part of a mixed case I bought ramdomly, as I love to do, unfettered by wine critics-induced prejudices. And once again, joining the likes of Jasper Hill or Wendouree, your wine instantly astounded everyone around the table. How can that world-class stuff be un-French? My wife is from Burgundy and puts a heavy emphasis on finesse and elegance: you passed with flying colors, being not only reminiscent of the exquisite refinement offered by a Chambertin Grand Cru, but by only by the very best ones. Rolling this liquid velvet in your mouth brings you the ultimate pleasure: joyful, luscious fruit, but not the usual overwhelming, in-your-face, oak-drenched, overripe Parker harlot. No, just delicate sensuality, without any compromise on intensity or length. I drunk hundreds of Syrah, eh, Shiraz and you took it at its wonderous, best possible varietal expression. Those in France who think that their wines will remain unmatched at the top, unassailably protected by unique terroirs, should drink and experience wines like yours: your vines and your art have been equally touched by the grace. Welcome in “la cour des Grands”.
I Briery – London
“I read a quote of Galileo somewhere that, ‘Wine is sunlight held together by water’. It seems to describe your Rosé perfectly.”
From a Customer
“…a complete and sophisticated wine, very intense but still elegant. I bet there are a lot of Pinot makers who’d like to capture that tingling finish.”
From a Customer
Castagna 2001 Genesis Syrah 95+ points
Top pointed wine out of 1,631 wines
“This is the third year in a row that Julian Castagna has given this tasting its highest-pointing wine. They have all been shiraz from the vineyard he owns with his wife, Carolann, near Giaconda, high on the northern slopes of the Australian Alps in Victoria. Most tellingly, all these wines have been grown biodynamically and have been made organically, with absolutely minimal sulphur. This is the most ravishing and deeply intense yet.
Its thick, sweet, heady perfume – there’s a teaspoon of viognier here – gives you glimpses of roses, freesias, blueberry, raspberry and marshmallow. Its ravishingly juicy middle palate tastes like lozenges of raspberry, strawberry and mint leaves but soon slides into a gradual roller-coaster rise of natural acidity and extremely fine, tight, black tannins.
This finish has all the supple, springy, shiny gunmetal blueness of a long crosscut saw. The aftertaste seems tantalisingly like a chocolate creme caramel. I could go on but those who insist on spraying Roundup, fungicides and insecticides into old Australia think I’m crazy and dangerous.”
Adelaide Advertiser – Australia’s Top 100 Wines
20 November 2002
“…a fine savoury wine…tobacco, black plum and pepper and wheaty aromas emerge. The oak smells delicious as well. On the palate there’s chewy tannin and fine vanilla pod oak, with sweet, savoury pippy blackberries and plums, and a tweak of coal dust to close. It gets even better with a few hours’ breathing…”
91/100 Tim White – Australian Financial Review
“…it has an aroma and flavour of black cherry, tar, liquorice, blackberry and Chinese five spices.
It is a wine of structure and power, and will age brilliantly, yet you could also thoroughly enjoy now – as I did – with a grilled rib eye steak, boiled new season baby potatoes and a fresh green salad.”
“…savoury again, slightly dusty/stalky, but with a powerful intense palate and lingering rosehip flavour… I bought some…”
“Smell 1: maraschino cherries. Smell 2: nearly everything else: roses, spicebox, prosciutto, and Coco Chanel eating strawberries soused in pink Krug. It’s a lesson to everybody who thinks they know what shiraz is like. It’s disgustingly rich, and even more complex and dry than most of the local high alco shiraz bruisers. Yet it’s elegant, sassy and slender. I want to go here more often. Fabulous scrumptious wine.”
94 points Philip White – Adelaide Advertiser
“Those of us who live in a world of glasses do so in the hope that one day one glass amongst the thousands will call us over and show us wonderment and delight which only fantasies could previously provide. Here’s the glass. This is the shiraz I’ve been waiting for. It was number 89, and it drew me in and blasted me with its refinement, concentration, elegance and balance. There was no other wine on the bench even vaguely like it. It could well have been a different variety. Winemaker Julian Castagna has used the French word, syrah, to maximise this difference as much as to respectfully acknowledge the source of his inspiration. Made organically from biodynamic fruit in Victoria’s northern alps, with absolutely minimal intervention in the winery, it is a bastion of gastronomic bravery in a world of cowardly mellow sameness. After suggesting an aroma of coffee plain petit four, my notes resort to words like slender, tight, deep, complex, fine, and taut. I also wrote “overwrought”, not realising that this is a wine that came about because one driven fellow provided the perfect conditions for it to make itself. So it overwrought itself? Cool.”
95 points Philip White – Adelaide Advertiser
“This smells delicious: blackberries and raspberries…pippy raspberry and blackberry fruited in the mouth over dusty tannins with an edge of cumquat and white peach: very much a northern Rhône style. Has good dusty length and packs plenty of flavour for such an elegant wine.”
Tim White in Australian Financial Review
“…quite simply one of the most delightful summer wines you’ll ever taste… This is a Rosé of substance…with deep colour and generous flavour, mouth-filling but refreshingly dry. This is the summer red we’ve all been waiting for.”
Ian MacTavish – Connoisseurs Gallery magazine
“If you’re looking for an Australian Côte Rôtie style, this wine from Beechworth will keep you very happy indeed. It has a spicy, violet-scented nose, and the palate is long, fine and decidedly silky…”
Winewise magazine – Highly Recommended
“The Genesis Syrah from Julian Castagna, our top appointed wine, has oodles of flavour, style and individual personality. This goes to show that brute force, raw tannin and new oak are not necessary to make a top class Shiraz….a stunning wine made by a passionate winemaker…(showing) wonderful integration and great length of subtle complexity with a tight tannin structure and pronounced but balanced acidity that are all beautifully integrated.”
“…salty and tangy… funky and feral… not cooked up according to some wine school recipe. It’s savoury, too, quite dry and serious in a kind of lovable left-wing academic sort of way. Great with food.”
Ben Canaider – The Age, Epicure
“…seriously food-friendly… possibly Australia’s most complex and full-on pink wine.”
Max Allen – The Australian
An awesome hand-made Shiraz from one of Australia’s most promising wine areas. Julian and Carolann Castagna are hand-crafting an opulent, northern Rhone style Shiraz, blended with a small amount of Viognier. Dense and rich with fine-grained tannins, it has been carefully enhanced with French oak and will improve with age.
Colin Climo, The Bulletin ’20 best for the cellar’
“Beechworth…home to three of the world’s more remarkable wine producers”.
We won both a gold medal and the trophy at Le Concours des Vins in 2001. ‘Exceptional wines that express their terroir’.