Previous Tasting Notes
CASTAGNA GENESIS SYRAH
Genesis Syrah – 1998
This wine appears deep crimson red with flashes of magenta. It has an enticing and elaborate array of aromas requiring careful consideration – red berries, leather, spice, anise, vanilla and the faintest suggestion of toasty oak. The palate is rich and immediately appealing with its sweet red fruits, vanilla, spice and slight peppery overtones encased in a backdrop of fine cedary French oak and balanced acidity. Aromatic and generous, it will appeal to those wanting fruit richness as the main bill while the essential bit players of acid, oak and tannin linger in the shadows. Delicious now but very capable of a few encores over the next five or six years.
Genesis Syrah – 1999
Flavour, complexity and elegance, the vinous trinity, can happily co-exist together in the bottle; power and refinement are possible. The most appealing aspects of this wine are its texture and structure. It’s seductive, and balanced, matured in a mixture of new and old French oak. Quite simply, this is a style of shiraz we rarely see made in Australia; more’s the pity. Incredible as it may seem, this wine comes from very young vines. What will the future bring? A delicious and intriguing question to ponder. This wine is savoury, slightly spicy but definitely not peppery. Gloriously aromatic – cedar, vanilla bean, coffee, leaf, black fruits, anise and fennel. Powdery fine drying tannins tightly bind the core of ripe black fruit that seems to linger on the tongue. All this is achieved with an alcohol level below 14%.
Genesis Syrah – 2000
Deep crimson red. The bouquet opens to notes of undergrowth, red fruits and violets; mingling savoury earthy tones with cedar, spice and vanilla. A restrained wine at this early part of its life, with a spine of acid and elegant fine grain silky tannins. Red cherries flow through the wine with elements of spice and sappy, forest flavours – reserved and complex. Racy and fine – needing time to coax the many complex elements into bloom. The art of seduction requires patience: for those who can wait, or indeed enjoy the chase, the experience will be a very satisfying one.
Genesis Syrah – 2001
One of my inspirations and benchmarks, when I started making wine, came from the delightful wines of Robert Jasmin who is renowned for his sensual and elegant Côte Roties. In terms of style, the 2001 Genesis is not that far off that mark. Of the four Genesis so far released, this is the best. A wine of finesse and harmony. The nose shows complex aromas of roasted meats, olives, vanilla bean, violets, black pepper and spicy oak. The palate is crammed full of ripe black fruits; the structure is seamless with fine lingering fruit and subtle oak tannins; the endnotes are of cedar and black pepper. A poetic tale of perfume, power and poise. (original notes)This wine has now begun to show itself with finesse and harmony. The very complex bouquet is of polished saddle leather, violets, olives, roasted meats, a hint of black pepper with a just a touch of spicy oak. The palate is lightly gamey yet fresh and exciting with a lovely silky texture, real intensity and length, and yet with a beautiful balance. The wine is delicately sensual, complete and sophisticated very much a pinot lovers Shiraz and a fine forerunner to the wondrous 2002. (updated December 2004)
Genesis Syrah – 2002
Visually it presents itself as a deep magenta/crimson hue, not black. The initial aroma is of graphite, that old-fashioned, gun-flint aroma that one rarely sees outside of the best of the northern Rhône or sous bois-style burgundy. Then comes the lifted aroma of pepper, spice, liquorice, saddle-leather and rose petals. The palate is a mirror of the bouquet – it is of medium weight, the oak and fruit tannins are very fine, savoury and rounded. Sweet black fruits, a twist of black pepper wrapped in a creamy textual flowing palate that is feminine and sweetly perfumed. In time this wine will bear more than a resemblance to a complex sans bois-style pinot rather than a more muscular shiraz. It is aromatic, fleet-of-foot and sensually seductive. (original notes)Visually it presents itself as a deep magenta/crimson hue, not black. The initial aroma is of graphite, that old-fashioned, gun-flint aroma that one rarely sees outside of the best of the northern Rhône or sous bois-style burgundy. Then comes the lifted aroma of pepper, spice, liquorice, saddle-leather and rose petals. The palate is a mirror of the bouquet – it is of medium weight, the oak and fruit tannins are very fine, savoury and rounded. Sweet black fruits, a twist of black pepper wrapped in a creamy textual flowing palate that is feminine and sweetly perfumed. In time this wine will bear more than a resemblance to a complex sans bois-style pinot rather than a more muscular shiraz. It is aromatic, fleet-of-foot and sensually seductive. (updated 2005)
Genesis Syrah – 2004
An explosive aroma: black cherries, violets, a twist of black pepper, brambles with the now characteristic graphite and bacon very evident, and to finish, the scent of fine grain French oak. It is certainly the most complex and compelling aroma I have seen in the Genesis since our sojourn began back in 1999. It reminds me of a rose garden laden with early morning dew – the damp air infused with an utterly irresistible perfume. The palate is long and fine with savoury oak spices providing support without being bullish. A silky mouth feel is apparent from the outset with flavours of black cherry, chocolate, violets and leather strap liquorice coming to the fore. Nothing appears out of place, the tannin and acid notes working in unison with the fruit.
Genesis Syrah – 2005
A deep crimson hue – never black nor purple, always alive; the colour of blood. The bouquet is rather difficult to describe – so much is happening here; violets, rose petals, smoked meats, black cherries, damp earth and musk. Equally as intriguing is the palate with its fresh, crunchy red to black cherries sidling up alongside notes of graphite, Szechuan pepper and tingling fresh acidity seasoned with exotic spices. It finishes powerfully with bitter dark chocolate laced with subtle smoke from the oak. At present, the wine sits delicately balanced on the knife’s edge. In a few years the briar and undergrowth will emerge and the fruit will build the palate even further.
Genesis Syrah – 2006
Deep plum to magenta in colour, the 2006 Genesis is a full-throttle wine of depth and complexity. Powerful secants of Satsuma plum, cedar, sweet black pepper, freshly-dampened earth and vanilla pod, ascend from the glass. The palate is succulent, concentrated, deep, dark and mysterious with restraint coming from the powder-fine tannins and drying extract. It has more than a touch of graphite-like character, and the deftly judged natural acidity that ensures the wine finishes long, dry and spicy. It has all the elements that I am searching for in wine – complexity, vivacity, structure, and ripeness without sweetness. This wine continues my search to redefine Australian Shiraz.
CASTAGNA SPARKLING GENESIS
Sparkling Genesis – 2005
The bouquet literally explodes: sandalwood, pepper, whiffs of apricot, graphite, lead pencils, and as it opens up briary notes and an inky black fruit note that gives the impression of wonderful extract and a sense of brooding blackness. The bead is fine, persistent and elegant. A rich, savoury texture is augmented by fine drying tannins and exotic background notes of wood spice. Both acid and dosage counter-balance the fruit and tannin to deliver a long savoury finish that is neither sweet not cloying to one’s palate. The extra year on lees has added a finer mouse more depth and more complexity.
Allegro Rosé – 2000
This is not your standard rosé, Australian style: stainless steel fermenters – banished; the standard fare of residual sugar – shunned; the trendy looking bottle and café designer label – ignored in favour of elegance and simplicity to pay homage to a wine style that should be better understood in Australia. The wine is barrel fermented with wild yeast and funky barrel ferment characters mingle with flavours of strawberries and cream. The hue of wash crimson is quite deep for a rosé and suggests a wine of substance. It delivers! Generous flavours coat all corners of the mouth. Gentle tannins and racy acidity draw out the luscious sweet fruit. Drink it slightly chilled in a big glass. A perfect accessory for a hot summer’s day as you loll around the house.
Allegro – 2001
Aromatically sensual with notes of funky strawberries and cream – a wine with a lovely deep crimson wash. Full throttle fruit: rich, rolling, juicy, complex and dry with just a touch of fine grain oak and cleansing acid with mineral notes, which cut across the decadent fruit. This is a lovely summer wine, please take it seriously, it deserves to be. Drink it slightly chilled.
Allegro – 2002
Deep salmon pink in colour. On the nose a fragrant combination of red cherries and wild strawberries – summer fruit in a glass. Rich, unctuous and mouth-filling; the fruit meanders to the back of the mouth carried by punchy acidity. The intensity and depth of the sweet, ripe fruit elevates this wine into a category all on its own. This is more a summer dry red wine albeit with complexity and attitude – quite different from what has become known as rosé, here in Australia. A balmy night, fish and chips and glass or two of Allegro and suddenly the world appears a little brighter.
Allegro – 2003
It has a lovely spicy, bubble-gum, rose petal, aromatic intensity – looks great when chilled down. The colour is a vibrant pale crimson – you can just sit and stare at it for ages. Rich sweet fruit fills the mouth; it is very much a case of what you smell is what you taste. A little more forward than the previous two vintages, the sweet fruit is given direction by fermentation in not-so-old French oak, however, the Allegro signature of flavour encased in a textural creamy palate, is there. More especially this year, I would suggest that this wine is best drunk while lively and fresh in the first year of its life.
Allegro – 2004
A welcome return to the fragrance and vitality that was the hallmark of the 2002. Wild Strawberries mingle with red cherries; with just a whiff of funk in the background, and with the ever-growing presence of rose petals. The aroma and deep salmon-pink colour heralds a rosé of substance. And in this instance, the main fare is up to the fanfare announced by the bouquet. The richly textured palate with abundant red-fruit notes inlaid together with the tingling ripple of acidity and lightest brush of tannin lives up to its beautiful perfume. It finishes joyously, with a spicy-fruity tang that lingers forever on the palate – utterly delicious.
Allegro – 2005
Lighter in colour, more resembling pink coral, it reminds me of a necklace my grandmother once wore – it is clean, precise and symbolic of warmer days by the ocean. Strawberries,watermelon, apricots and a hint of wild fennel bring a wonderful savoury note to the bouquet. A similar beat flows through the palate with refreshing acidity phrasing the flavours. Not quite as lush as the 2004 but longer and finer with lingering flavours of strawberries, cream and apricots ensuring a joyous drinking experience over the next 12 to 18 months. Simply delicious. Drink it cool rather than cold.
Allegro – 2006
Coral pink in colour it reminds me of hues of pinks often seen on a coral reef – sun, warmth, water – the perfect conditions for this style of wine. Yet the red fruits have lovely savoury herb notes – the palate is creamy and textural with the now familiar spicy edge showing through. It is not so much about a single fruit flavour but more about a harmonious flow of summer berries and cream that are simply best enjoyed as that. This year’s Allegro is about texture with wonderful acidity to keep the mouth-feel fresh. Utterly delightful.
Allegro – 2007
A striking colour of raspberry or red cherry; the bouquet delivers a savoury dried herb character formed around a core of red cherry fruit. A touch of nuttiness and earthy notes meander in and out of the bouquet as the wine opens up with breathing. The palate is a compote of anise, red cherry that is ripe and textural yet not cloying nor sweet. The ultimate test is if a wine is still alive and fresh twenty four hours after opening. If anything, this rosé looks better and demonstrates that this wine, like past Castagna rosés, will develop further complexity over the next few years.
Allegro – 2008
This vintage has a salmon pink coat; it releases a perfume of strawberries, cream, rose-petals touched by morning dew and as it opens, savoury dried herb notes. The palate is rich and rolling with lush red fruits teased along by refreshing acidity. It melts in the mouth like the finest Belgian chocolate and it leaves a satisfying sensation of summer red fruits gently infused with spices and herbs which add to the wine’s sense of being something more than just a summer drink. I believe this is the finest Rosé I have yet made.
Allegro – 2009
Visually quite striking; the colour of raspberry or red cherry. The bouquet gives an impression of savoury dried herbs formed around a core of red cherry fruit – quite lifted with some earthy notes which move in and out of the bouquet as the wine opens up. The palate is of red cherry and anise – ripe and textural with just a hint of tannin, leaving you with a satisfying sensation of summer fruit infused with spices and herbs. The acidity is crisp and refreshing.
Allegro – 2010
Pink salmon, strawberries, red cherries with a gentle spicy overlay of sweet black pepper. Very much strawberries and cream with subtle dried herbs for seasoning – rosemary, thyme, oregano. The attack on the palate is rich, spicy, and creamy – fresh strawberries laced with dried spices. It has a lovely depth of flavour and nicely balanced acidity with a dry, satisfying savoury finish. A wine to be enjoyed year round, not just in summer.
CASTAGNA LA CHIAVE
La Chiave – 2000
Almost the colour of blood. The bouquet summons sweet savoury oak and weaves through notes of Morello cherry, leather and undergrowth. It has a lively, spicy, perfumery lift, which is very well balanced by the presence of well-integrated oak. The palate is similar with a racy acid spine. Fine, cedary oak provides a harmonious and structured element that is neither brash nor dominant which complements the savoury Morello cherry flavours. A wine that cries out for food.
La Chiave – 2001
A rather wild and spirited wine with multiple personality; well, it is Italian after all. This wine is something akin to a cherry orchard growing in the heart of the forest. Overtones of mushrooms, undergrowth and saddle leather mix with black cherries. There is a core of ripe fruit but it is neither sweet nor simple. Flavours of black cherries, dark cooking chocolate, earth and sous bois are nicely wrapped in fine cedary tannins. A drying finish with tingling acidity keeps the flavours rolling well after the wine has disappeared. A thought-provoking example of Sangiovese. A wine that demands breathing and is enriched by food.
La Chiave – 2002
This wine has a perfume of sour black cherries, blackberries, hints of coffee bean, dark chocolate, vanilla and cedary notes. It reminds me very much of a rich black forest cake with violets, spice, pepper, and as it opens the aroma of damp roses. Taste it, and your palate is attacked from every direction; black cherries, slithers of vanilla bean, very fine cedary tannins, and plenty of them, with a supple mid-palate and a long savoury finish that seems to never end. Very structured but with an inner core of intense fruit that will continue to emerge and flow over the tannins over the next five years. It needs time. It needs food. It needs big glasses.
La Chiave – 2004
Wildly enticing, ethereal – a seduction of the senses. Roasted meats, sour cherries, earth, undergrowth and the sweet scent of rose petals make a bold introduction. A tensile spine of fine tannins and acid gives form and support to the fruit. Rich in the mouth, it provides gobs of ripe black cherry fruit, sweet and chocolatey at first impression. Then the tannins and seamless oak step in and take the fruit on a long, joyful ride that ends with a dry, savoury taper. A truly compelling wine with wild sous bois – like character and generous fruit impact.
La Chiave – 2006
Having skipped 2005, the return of La Chiave is immensely satisfying. It is the iron fist in a velvet glove of the trio of 2006 cru reds. Black cherry, earth and cedar rush from the glass and as it opens, floral scents and that deeply warming scent of an old polished leather armchair. A rich and seamless palate, the fruit is fresh and vibrant. It has a flood of fine drying tannins that play gymnastics in your mouth, and flavours that bounce around every nook and cranny and then settle on the back palate. The tannins are not dissimilar to those you might see in the best Nebbiolo. As the wine breathes, the tannins melt into a platform on which the deep, black cherry fruit can take centre stage. As an encore, the savory bitter dark chocolate finish seems to linger for ever. This is the most European style structure I have achieved in the La Chiave, and it will be a very long lived wine.
La Chiave – 2008
A perfume of blackberries, sour black cherries with hints of coffee bean, dark chocolate, violets, spicy vanilla pod and some cedary notes come from the glass. On the palate your senses are beguiled by black cherries, slithers of vanilla bean, and very fine cedary tannins. It has a supple mid-palate and a long savoury finish that seems to go on for ever; well-structured with an inner core of intense fruit that will continue to emerge and flow over the tannins as the wine matures.
La Chiave – 2009
A complex smell of sweet black cherry, freshly turned earth, and a touch of raspberry and violets – here also an aromatic lift of rose petals , a feature of the whole vineyard in this vintage – slightly spicy with a splash of vanilla. This wine tastes of the earth – it’s vinous not confectionary. It is a Sangiovese which is complex, compelling and elegant. The palate is of sweet black cherries that totally envelope the wine, rich and mouth- filling with supple very fine tannins; gorgeously ripe cherry fruit spiced with a compote of dried herbs and well-seasoned French oak. Textually creamy, roundness is its key and yet the fine drying tannins frame the wine in such a way that it ends long and savoury – delightful.
CASTAGNA UN SEGRETO
Un Segreto – 2005
Deep crimson hue with an aroma of black cherries, exotic spices, cedary wood notes and earthy extract creating a bold impression. The palate delivers an earthy, black-fruited impact with textural richness coming from the fine tannins and integrated oak. It has a sizeable midrift with a long, clean, savoury finish which is refreshed by the acidity. Deliciously rich with fruit being the master, yet avoiding sweetness, and by doing so, making it quite moorish.
Un Segreto – 2006
Initially the fruit opens with red cherries and raspberries but then builds into a delicious ripe but tangy plum fruit aroma. Seasoned with suggestions of balsamic, sandalwood, spice, leather, licorice and a subtle hint of scented violet, it proves that pinot is not the only variety that can achieve a heady, romantic bouquet. Structurally the wine is taut, fine and long with vibrant acidity working to pull the palate in. As it opens it shows a textural balance that allows the fruit to shine through whilst being restrained by the structural elements. At the palate’s end there are notes that bring orange scented wood spice and bitter chocolate flavours together adding a further dimension to the red plum fruit. Most satisfying to me, is the overall dry, savoury, earthy elements of the wine which gives it a sense of nobility.
Un Segreto – 2008
The colour is deep crimson. The nose is of exotic spice, liquorice and tar over black cherry, cedary wood and earthy extract. The palate has an earthy, black-fruited impact with textural richness coming from the fine tannins. It is taut, fine and long with vibrant acidity. It has a middle pallet which is long, clean, with a savoury finish. Overall it is dry and savoury with lovely earthy elements, deliciously rich, but avoiding sweetness.
Un Segreto – 2009
This smells at first of freshly turned earth, then liquorice, boot polish and old leather, with cinnamon, star anise and a sliver of sandalwood. The fruit is black cherry which shows itself with a touch of vanilla, seasoned with Szechuan pepper. The mouth is creamy, rich, spicy; lovely; fresh and vibrant with a dry, savoury backbone – oodles of fine drying tannin that cling to the black cherry, delivering a spicy complex mouth-filling wine that has complex aromatics, and a structural balance.
In bottle the Castagna 2000 Sauvage shows itself to be a wonderful combination of tailor’s shop and spice emporium: leather, suede, vanilla, cinnamon, oak and spices all beguile the senses, and in turn, all are bonded to a central aroma of ripe blackcurrant, on a superb base of ripe tannins.The palate has a rich attack of plum, blackcurrant and spices, drawn together by the fine-grain oak and meandering acids. The oak will settle quickly amidst the succulent fruit. The rich drying tannins and balanced acid will ensure longevity although, the wine is very seductive now, and it will be hard not to drink it early.
This wine is a wonderful introduction to the wines of Castagna. Showing an array of rich, ripe, plumy flavours, black berries and savoury flashes of smoky bacon, it is a blend of Shiraz a little Viognier and a spoonful of Sangiovese. The wine combines a powerful earthiness with tones of saddle leather, dried herbs and violets – it speaks powerfully of the land from whence it came. The fruit is rich plum with charry overtones, the palate is dominated by sweet black fruit, and, as always in Castagna, very fine grain tannins. Outstanding value. (original notes)
Patience is a virtue. Having revisited the 2003 Sauvage recently, I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts on its progress. Upon opening I was delighted by its development. Slowly but surely the vineyard characters are starting to emerge – black cherry, liquorice and floral notes of damp roses now coming to the fore. Still very much in the riper, sweeter fruit spectrum but I can now see the vineyard’s terroir winning out – a lesson to be learnt: good wine always tells its own story in its own time. On the palate the impact is of lush, ripe, black berries with masses of silky fine tannins. It is evolving into a wine that delivers warmth and assurance which will provide drinking pleasure over the next 4 to 6 years. (updated 2006)
Ingenue – 2003
The colour is deepish green/gold with a bouquet of apricots, funky notes with a gentle overlay of spicy oak that pulls the fruit aroma into tow. Strongly varietal without being overt. The palate is creamy, rich, but neither sweet nor cloying. Oak and acid structure pull the wine to the back palate ensuring a long finish. Spliced into the creamy texture is the flavour of freshly stewed apricots, a lick of honey and spicy oak notes to season the fruit. A wine with an intense perfume and an elegant restrained but long palate.
Ingenue – 2004
Quite intense lime blossom – the curious element of the vintage – pairs well with the more normal expected apricot flavours. A dab of musk, a splash of wet stone and a twist of vanilla adds the final touches. Rich in texture and full in flavour, the Ingenue 2004 is a tad more precocious than the 2003 Ingenue. Spicy oak notes provide the final seasoning that compliments the rich, apricot, lime and vanilla flavours. More buxom in its proportions but still very much with the X-factor appeal. World class.
Ingenue – 2005
The 2005 Ingenue has the depth and presence that I strive for in the wines I craft. The bouquet is vibrant, intense and varietal without being obvious. Ripe fresh apricots, lime blossom and delicate wood spices are the more pronounced aromas. Seamless on the palate, the acidity coaxes the perfectly ripened fruit notes and creamy textural elements to spill effortlessly onto the back palate. If it were food it would be the most delicate apricot soufflé with a trickling of vanilla cream.
Ingenue – 2006
A fanfare of freshly picked apricot, orange peel spice and submerged below, a hint of soft poached pears and quince. Quite full in the palate with the overall sensation being more about texture than a particular dominant fruit character. The wine has moved beyond primary fruit to be more about mouth feel and weight. The finish is quite rich with the subtle spicy oak notes and acidity dressing the soft poached pear and quince fruits.
Ingenue – 2008
The bouquet is vibrant intense and varietal yet not obvious. Ripe fresh apricots, lime blossom and delicate wood spices are the more pronounced aromas with orange peel spice submerged below. Seamless on the palate, the acidity coaxes the perfectly ripened fruit and creamy textural elements to spill effortlessly onto the back palate. It moves beyond primary fruit to be more about mouth feel and weight. The finish is rich with subtle spicy oak notes and fresh acidity dressing the notes of soft poached pear and quince fruits.
Ingenue – 2010
I love this wine it is both suave and elegant. Rich and forthcoming yet with a wonderful acid balance both comforting and luxurious. It is of the earth having a sense of dried grains, hay that has just been harvested, exotic ginger perhaps tinged with a touch of apple. Truly exotic aromatically with a spicy almost prickly mouth feel – delicious.