Castagna Sauvage Syrah 2007

Castagna is a very highly regarded producer from Beechworth in northern Victoria at an altitude of 500 metres and has garned praise from many in the know and is generally regarded as a rising star.  The vines are grown biodynamically, the vineyard hand pruned, the fruit hand-picked, the yields low.  All things that an ambitious winery might consider being done, are being done.  Now generally I would say a few more words here about how good the wine is, and you might read on for a bit and make up your own mind.  The story here though takes an unfortunate turn.  The wine had a certain unpleasant character that I could not initially put my finger on.  My thoughts “live”:

An aroma of pepper, ooh a quite strong note of tinned green peppercorns and then, no wait, an acrid character.  Really?  Smoke?  No, perhaps it’s earth – give it the benefit of the doubt.  Nope – smoke, and there it is again on the palate, though offset by some baked plummy fruit and supple medium length.  Why would Vue de Monde, one of Melbourne’s finest restaurants, a candidate for the finest, serve it?  Why would Castagna, an up and coming producer, sell it?  I must be wrong, or at least have different tastes.

And then a colleague, sitting at a different table, quietly informed me of his same conclusion carrying an already replaced glass with a 2008 vintage in it (same producer, possibly a different label though).  And then another person.  So, be it smoke, or something else, something was not quite right on the night.  Now, I have searched in vain for further information about the 2007 vintage for Castagna, or a review of this wine.  The best I can do is this: Langtons describes 2007 thus for Beechworth pinot noir:

The earliest harvest on record finishing in late February. It was also a bloody difficult year with the Australian trifecta of frost, drought and fire. A heavy frost on the 25th September caused severe damage. A second frost followed on the 9th of October but caused little further grief. A third frost reduced the harvest even further. This was followed by drought conditions throughout late spring and summer. Mild to hot weather accelerated budburst and ripening, but yields are down. Bush fire smoke damage is a widespread problem, but this will be entirely vineyard specific. Worse, the Pinot crop was very small. Giaconda has brought in fruit from Bannockburn and the Yarra Valley. Savaterre fared better. Many wines were not made. 4/10

Disappointing.  75 points.

Price: $45 (current vintage)

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