Castagna is made in Beechworth, Northeast of Victoria, by Julian and Carolann Castagna. From film making and writing respectively, they found themselves in love with wine and decided to plant a vineyard in Australia. The story goes that with the little money they made from selling their Sydney house they moved to a spot where they could be “pioneers” in planting Syrah (or Shiraz) and be successful. With their caravan, they made their way to Beechworth to make wine. Pretty romantic if you ask me.
Why do we like it?
Since one of my first weeks in Australia, I was introduced to Julian Castagna, not knowing the producer from before, it was all new to me. I sat down at the Lui bar with the previous wine director and the man himself. I was then assistant head sommelier and ready to soak up all information I could get. Learning that Beechworth was making good Syrah, Italian varietals, Gamay, Chardonnay and of course classic sweet Muscats, was intriguing. Certainly Castagna was a great start. The Genesis Syrah is full bodied but elegant, alcohol is very well balanced and integrated, the oak is very well managed and the fruit actually is lively. This is attributed to the fact that the wines are biodynamic. Julian says that he loves the connection to the soils, he loves to work in the vineyards and that produces intense and very good wines. We find this Syrah takes on an Old World fashion, or if you prefer, as a Northern Rhone style, hence the Syrah name, rather than Shiraz from Australia. The fruit is less ripe, alcohol is more balanced, less tannic, but more finesse, delicacy and length on the palate. These wines age very well, do not force yourself into drinking them too early, 5 to 10 years and they hold up very well. We should also mention, it may benefit from decanting.