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Morning Dew Ranch: A Home Run for Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa
Photo Credit: Jim Sullivan

Castello di Amorosa is a full-scale, historically accurate, actual, medieval Tuscan castle in the heart of Napa Valley.  If you’re interested in more history about the castle and it’s construction, I wrote a blog post about that last fall.

In addition to medieval castle construction, Castello di Amorosa makes wine — some pretty terrific wine.

The Morning Dew Ranch Estate Vineyard is the newest vineyard in the Castello di Amorosa portfolio.  The vineyard was purchased in 2015 from Burt Williams, founder of the famed Williams Selyem Winery.  Morning Dew is a 12-acre vineyard, located in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, California (that’s the purple area in the map below).  Mendocino County is a cool microclimate, at an elevation of 617 feet, and Pinot Noir thrives in cool elevation.  The vineyard contains nine blocks of Pinot Noir, specifically DRC, 115, 777, Rochioli, 23, and 828 clones.

In viticulture, a clone is a variety of grape that is selected for specific qualities (like fungal resistance, cold hardiness or a particular color or flavor characteristic), which result from natural mutations.  Pinot Noir is a very old variety of grape, and extremely susceptible to mutation, so there are a ton of Pinot Noir clones out there.  According to UC Davis, there are more clones of Pinot noir than of any other wine grape variety.

These wines mark the first release from this vineyard for Castello di Amorosa:

Le Grotesque

2016 Morning Dew Ranch Pinot Noir
Anderson Valley  ⭐️⭐⭐⭐/94 points

100% Pinot Noir from the 12-acre Morning Dew Ranch vineyard.  Aged for 10 months in French Burgundy oak barrels.  Medium ruby in color.  Wow.  Layers and layers of complexity.  Strawberry, fresh red cherries, cola, vanilla, clove, cocoa, tobacco.  Gorgeous structure — soft yet strong (but not bullying) tannins, and engaging acidity.  I say again, wow.  Sometimes, in my zeal for Burgundy, I forget just how transformative California Pinot Noir can be when it’s made well.  And this one is made very well.  It’s elegant, classy, and thought-provoking.  13.9% ABV.  Retail = $75.  I’d buy a case of this stuff without hesitation.

2016 Morning Dew Ranch Rosato, Anderson Valley ⭐️⭐⭐⭐/91 points

100% Pinot Noir from the same 12-acre estate vineyard as the regular Pinot Noir.  Aged in concrete fermentation eggs (which are really cool, btw).  Pale salmon color.  Beautifully dry.  Strawberry, rhubarb, and rose petals.  Beautiful minerals/wet rocks on the finish.  Light tannins provide structure, balanced by an energetic acidity.  13.2% ABV.  Retail = $39, which is on the high side for a Rosé, but if you’re looking for something with a structure and elegance that’s a departure from easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy Rosé, it’s worth the price tag.

Note on the picture above:  The restrooms at Castello di Amorosa have faucets that look like gargoyles.  The Mr. Armchair Sommelier has a particular fondness for gargoyles and grotesques.  I have gargoyles on my downspouts, and grotesques living in my backyard.  So far, I have been able to keep them out of my bathrooms.  So far.  But, my grotesque did make for a great tie-in for these wines!

Fun Fact:  The word gargoyle comes from the old French gargouille, meaning throat.  The practical purpose of gargoyles was to provide drainage for a church or castle.  The secondary purpose was to scare the bejeezus out of people.  But, a gargoyle can only be a gargoyle if it functions as a water spout.  Otherwise, it’s a grotesque, which is used solely for decoration.


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