Media

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.

Ned Goodwin MW looks at current release

Ned Goodwin MW came to visit recently and we looked across our portfolio together, I think his thoughts are worth a look, even though some of the wines are sold out here so no longer available from us, but of course may still be available in restaurants, retail and in your own cellar.

Grower’s Selection Quasibianco 2018: Resolved and courageous. By this I mean that Julian Castagna has found his mojo with this style: a rich, powerful and intense Riesling that belies its lowish alcohol and balletic precision. 30 days on skins. Orange blossom, apricot pith, rooibos tea and spiced ginger crystals. The acidity, juicy and saline. The finish, pithy, nicely chewy and beautifully detailed, unravelling like an intricate quilt of patterns as flavours and the weave as textures, light and dense all at once. This is a superb Riesling of immense character 96

Adam’s Rib 2017: A Chardonnay and Viognier meld. Leesy and bright, with the exuberance of Viognier’s Orange verbena and apricot compote riding shotgun. Camomile, too. Mid-weighted, fresh and imminently gulpable. An immaculate wine of flavour, intensity and an easygoing drinkability belying substantial depth 93

Grower’s Selection Chardonnay 2018: A powerful, rich, creamy and palate-staining experience. Superb value, here. A melody of stone fruits, vanilla pod oak, brûlée and citrus blossom, lifting the mid-palate and zinging across the long, plush finish. A whiff of match strike pungency, too. A great deal of wine stuffed into the glass 94

Grower’s Selection Savagnin 2018: A big wine. Picked late, to be sure. Rooibos, mandarin, cinnamon, star anise, oatmeal and poached pear, nuts and orange. A marzipan-doused finish, warm, unctuous and rich. This demands food, with a phenolic composure as-if not more-important than the trickle of acidity keeping it on the straight and narrow 93

Ingenue 18: The attack on the cooler side for the variety. Pickle, garden herb and mezcal, segueing to apricot pith and blossom. A fine interplay of herbal freshness and textural intrigue. Not as ripe and exuberant as in past years, but fresher. Arguably Australia’s greatest expression of this capricious variety. Long and luxe and the more I stick my nose into this, the more I intuitively want to accommodate it and explore its eddies in greater detail. I drank the 2010 soon afterwards and given how well that has aged, I expect no less from this 95

Grower’s Selection Roussanne 18: Rooibos, quince paste, pistachio and toasted almond. Expansive and full-weighted, but impeccably placed. Each component in synchronicity. Richly favoured, but a bow of tension defined as much by a pungent mineral undertow as by a granitic precision, serving as a pinion between weight, density and freshness; shades of light and dark. A strident wine across the palate, alluding to the suitability of the variety to the region 95

Adam’s Rib The Red 18: Nebbiolo with a smidgeon of Syrah. Delicious drinking now. The shins and knees of adolescence sitting pretty in an almost Cru Beaujolais-esque gulpable swagger. Sour cherry, sapid notes of clove, briar, anise, garden herb and sandalwood, bound by a squeegee of freshness. Delicious drinking. In the zone. At its very best 93

Barbarossa 2017-18: This is the first time I have enjoyed this cuvée. Perhaps, a project of experimentation and contemplation. Finally! Finally! Absolutely brilliant! Suave tannins of a spindly edginess and diaphanous transparency framing notes of petrichor, campfire, sour cherry, sandalwood and bergamot. Sumptuous Nebbiolo, twisting its way across a ravine of spindly tannin and a rivulet of juicy acidity drawing the flavours long 95

Un Segreto 16: 60%/40% Sangiovese/ Shiraz. Raspberry compote, anise, brush, sandalwood and menthol. Finely tuned alloyed-smooth tannins, curtailing the plush mid-palate. Full-bodied but medium of feel as is the wont at Castagna, as much due to the structural latticework as to the granitic soils and sub-alpine setting. Riper and softer than usual, but no less delicious 94

Un Segreto 17: A very different animal to the 16. Herbal. Sassafras. A carapace of firm twine soused tannins binds the more reclusive fruit to future possibility, rather than imminence. Sour cherry, orange zest, scoops of liquorice all-sorts and cardamon. Mid-weighted despite the higher alcoholic buffering. More savoury and bony over sumptuous in this nascent stage. The 17’s boast a saline core with ferrous edges. Mulch and forestry undertones meld with Sangiovese’s inherent friskiness, serving to mitigate the higher alcohol of the vintage. Ironically, this vintage feel more compact and mid-weight despite the higher alcohol 95

La Chiave 16: Jubey, dark and sour fruited of nature with a core of crème de cassis mitigating the brushstroke of spice and scrub. Highly savoury with a ferrous core of tannin, looser than usual perhaps. But quelle tannins! Attenuated and detailed, they sweep across the mouth in a plume of authority, while conferring an immense core of savoury umami. A thoroughly delicious wine 95

La Chiave 17: A brew of forestry scents of pine, autumnal mulch, mint, anise and porcini broth, warm and nourishing. The tannins, fine boned and long limbed. As yet unresolved. Yet this wine promises the most of the Italianate expressions here. The darker tones of fruit, a backdrop. The oak, an addendum. Long, edgy and fresh. An extremely convincing wine with pedigree and ageability written all over it 96

Genesis 16: Lilac, smoked sweet meats, boysenberry, darker cherry, kirsch, tapenade and iodine. A sweeter, riper year conferring a plush approachability. Peppery, to be sure, while doused with an Indian spice sachet of star anise, clove and cardamon, The tannins, exceptionally fine despite the richer fruit. A more forward expression than usual, backed by a skein of sub-Alpine acidity 94

Genesis 17: A great nose. Superlative before it hits the palate. Tight. Compact. Wonderful tension. The tannins, a benchmark of extraction for others to emulate. Clove, pepper, nori and blueberry. Mid-weighted and beautifully furled, unravelling screw by screw; joint by joint; joinery by joinery; detail by detail, strongly suggesting that this will be a wine of the ages 97

Genesis 06: One of the few older expressions that Julian held back for posterity’s sake. And now it is time. Indelibly Rhône-like, boasting whiffs of cardamon, pepper grind, salumi, iodine and violet, the youthful blue fruit allusions giving way to dried porcini, mace and umami with age. Still electric with life as it crackles through the mouth, this is going to sit pretty for a further five-years at least 97

Allegro 18: Syrah with a dollop of Viognier. Mandarin of hue with onion skin edges. A potpourri of clove, Seville Orange, pink grapefruit, sour cherry and cinnamon stick. A curl of firm tannins transcends the usual structural lattice of a rosé, making for a more sophisticated wine closer in aura to a light red 94

Chenin Blanc 18: Dry, tensile and gently lanolin. Rapier-like of intensity and thrust. Pear granita, nashi apple, lemon drop and honey dew melon. Spice, too. Mid-weighted and highly textural, yet this could use another degree of ripeness, more time on lees and a bit of envelope-pushing. The oak, impeccably nestled. A fine wine at is nascent point of development and ascendancy. After all, everything takes time 92

Sparkling Genesis 2009: A deep mottled garnet segues to scents of spiced liquorice, black cherry, dark berry allusions, sassafras and bracken, all smeared with a marinade of clove, tapenade and pepper grind. Intensely flavoured, yet light on its feet as the fizz imparts refreshment factor, the tannins detail and grit and the acidity an uncanny etherealness. With a mere 6 grams of dosage, this is a lesson to the rest of us on how to keep this most traditional of Australian styles current and meaningful 95

Pet-Nat Allegro 2017: Strawberries and cream-type aromas, with a whiff of fennel and lemon verbena for perk. The fizz-gentle, persistent and attractively frothy-sets a tone of lightness, vibrancy and most importantly, joyousness. This is surely the wine’s MO. The acidity, a juicy linger in the background, serves to tow the melee long. A ‘thrills with a chill’ type of proposition 93

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.

~

Phillip White

Journalist Philip White is undoubtedly Australia’s most literate and erudite wine writer. His blog which is always the must-read blog of wine and wine politics in Australia includes his take on Castagna and is worth a read:

https://drinkster.blogspot.com

A far-ranging visit with Castagna, Beechworth

By Sarah Ahmed

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

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

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON THEWINEDETECTIVE.CO.UK

Julian Castagna : Castagna Wines Beechworth

By Milton Wordley

Whenever we travel overseas, we always take along wine for our family and friends. We usually take Australian sparkling shiraz, as you don’t see it much in other countries. This year we took along Castagna Sparking Genesis Syrah, made by Julian Castagna. It’s one of our favourite sparklers.

Julian had been been involved in the media industry for over 40 years. His journey from filmmaking to the wine business is a fascinating story. And along the way he became increasingly involved in biodynamic viticulture.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON WINETENQUESTIONS.COM.AU

CASTAGNA WINES – CULT WINES & LEGENDS

By Paul Diamond

If you are an Australian wine lover and haven’t heard of Castagna, don’t be surprised. 

Julian Castagna and his family, located just outside the Victorian Alps town of Beechworth, produce a small range of high quality, biodynamic wines that fly well below the radar.

They aren’t in any of the chains and to find them you will have to visit one of the handful of independent wine shops scattered around the country or be sitting in a restaurant looking at one of the few special wine lists that carry them.

There is no cellar door that you can ‘just visit’, you have to make an appointment. And, if you are not on his mailing list or buy directly from his site that often has ‘sold out’ next to his products, you will struggle to find them.

It’s no accident that these wines are not easy to find. A filmmaker earlier on in his life, Julian understands the value of having to dig to search something out, get to understand and eventually cherish it.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON WINESELECTORS.COM.AU