Last Saturday, Italian Wine Merchants was thrilled to play host to one of the most revered estates in all of Friuli, La Castellada. The event was put together on the spur of the moment, but sometimes that is how the most memorable events in wine and in our lives happen. A winemaker unexpectedly finds his way to New York City, and an opportunity for our devoted clientele to experience his wines first hand is born.
As I sat across from Stefano, his words swirled around in my head as his 2006 Bianco did the same in my glass and all I could think was, “Mission accomplished.” My apologies if I sound like a broken record, but too often Italian whites are dismissed as light, airy and not to be taken seriously. These are the wines that snap you back into attention and demand that you take notice. Yes, you experience the wide array of tropical fruits on the nose that is so common with Friulano, Ribolla, and the like, but these fruits are set against a firm backdrop, courtesy of La Castellada’s use of oak in the aging of the wine (at least one year for each wine) and the balance given by the gorgeous terroir from which the wine comes.
In an afternoon filled with great wine and fantastic food from IWM’s Chef Kevin Sippel, you’d think it’d be difficult to pick a specific “great” moment. But on this afternoon it was easy. As a surprise to the winemaker and all in attendance, IWM dipped into its own cellar for something exceptional for the occasion—a magnum of La Castellada’s 1996 Bianco della Castellada.
As I placed the Magnum in front of Stefano, a Cheshire-cat-sized grin spread across his face. He was thrilled to share the story of this wine with the attendees. In 1996 sleet had destroyed the crop of all the vineyards in Oslavia (his home town), and nearly destroyed all of their fruit as well. However, there were just a few bunches that survived. It took them three times the usual amount of time to harvest the crop, carefully selecting and locating the grapes that survived and were strong enough to be used. From these grapes, the 1996 Riserva was born. He also shared that he himself only had two or three magnums left of this wine. In a word, the wine was “ethereal,” and any further description would not do it justice.
Moments and events like these sweep me up in the romance of it all and remind me why I love what we do here at IWM. I hope one day soon I will see you all here, and we can share one of these moments…and a glass of wine too.
2007 La Castellada Friulano
2006 La Castellada Ribolla Gialla
2006 La Castellada Bianco della Castellada
2007 La Castellada Pinot Grigio
2004 La Castellada Rosso della Castellada
2000 La Castellada Rosso della Castellada
1996 La Castellada Bianco della Castellada Riserva