Friday, June 8, 2012

Winey Birthday Notes: Castello Di Amorosa's Fantasia For A Son's 20th Birthday

The Winey Son turned 20 yesterday. There was no Thomas The Tank Engine wrapping paper. No Harry Potter gift bags. No Cleveland Indians paper plates. No throng of hungry boys in our backyard. Nope, my 20 year old spent his day on the training fields of West Point, learning to be a soldier and a leader. (And learning that you have to sleep under the stars even when the stars are obscured by rain clouds.)

This is not the first birthday he's been away from us. It started when he was 16 and was an exchange student. At 17, he was at West Point for their Summer Leadership Seminar (think of it as a trial run for those who are VERY interested in West Point). He was with us for 18 - but shortly after that left to begin his West Point career with the infamous Beast Barracks (basic training - along the Hudson River). And ever since then, he's been away on his birthday, thanks to the amazing opportunities West Point gives him. I do not begrudge him (or West Point) any of this, by the way. Ever since I can remember, he has told me that he wants to serve this nation, and who am I to argue THAT?

So why in the heck did I miss him so much yesterday, when I should be used to him not being here? (Let's not even talk about the bitterness of there being one less BUTTERCREAM frosting covered cake opportunity, OK?) I think it's because it was a zero birthday - you know them: the years that end with a zero (or sometimes a 5) that seem to mark big milestones. (The Winey Hubby just had a big zero...but we took the high road here and did NOT drape the house in black. I took him to California on vacation instead.) It was 20 - the end of the teens. The start of adulthood (if not the legal ability to imbibe). MY BABY WAS 20?!! How could that be when I am still 29? (ahem)


So this day passed like any other, with a high school sports physical for the Winey Daughter (still very much a teen) and errands to run and letters to mail and gardens to tend. And then it was after dinner and I found myself with my book club book, on the patio on a night when the temperature was absolutely perfect. The setting just begged for a glass of wine. And since I was feeling a bit nostalgic (OK, and a bit sorry for myself) I decided to open a special bottle. Out came the Castello Di Amorosa Fantasia (2011, 7%, California). We bought the wine on the aforementioned California Birthday trip.


Castello Di Amorosa
(photo by Winey Mom)

Castello Di Amorosa (castle of love) is a winery like no other. In fact, to see it without knowing what it is, you'd swear you had been transported to Europe. Or a fairy tale. That's because it's a castle. A real one. Built by winemaker Dario Sattui (who already had a successful winery nearby, and don't miss his amazing olive oil either) using reclaimed pieces of real, crumbling castles (or extremely accurate replicas when the originals were not to be found). It has 107 rooms (filled with antiques and works of art), 8 levels (four above ground, four below), ramparts and yes....a dungeon (actually a very fun part of the tour). The wines are made in a traditional Italian style (the red grapes are grown on the grounds of the Castle). I had been avoiding Italian wines because I really didn't know that much about them. After touring the winery, though, I can now safely say that I am becoming a fan of Italian whites, not so much the reds, and am totally in love with their sweet wines.

A real castle!
(photo by Winey Mom)
The Winey Couple on
the Castle Ramparts
(photo by friendly Castle guide)









The Winey Mom on the
Castle grounds
(photo credit: Winey Hubby)


Enter Fantasia (Fantasy). To be truthful, this is just barely a wine. It's made by pressing and partially fermenting grape juice and is quite low in alcohol. But not in taste. It's a ruby red wine that actually fizzes in your glass. It smells just like a summer time flowering garden and tastes like you're drinking rose petals and strawberries. (I'm not making this up.) The fizzy-ness keeps the sweetness from becoming cloyingly sweet and makes it very lively in the mouth. There are layers of fruits and flowers and it ends on a juicy strawberry note. Heaven on a patio!

Castello Di Amorosa's wines are sold only at the winery or on line. So you won't be able to run out and find a bottle nearby unless you live in the Napa Valley area. But go ahead and order some Fantasia, and if you do, add in a bottle or two of the Pinot Grigio (4 out of 5 on the Winey Mom rating scale), Chardonnay (another 4), 2011 Gewurztraminer Dolcino (a resounding 5).

I had to practice some Winey restraint and not down the entire bottle - and it wasn't just because I was missing my boy on his birthday - this is such a gorgeous wine!!  I am glad that I opened it and "shared" it in honor of the day I became a mom, and he became a shining light in our lives.

Cheers and Happy Birthday to you Winey Son! We're so very proud of you!

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