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Hello! Welcome to As Drunk by Exotic Wine Travel, a weekly column where we feature interesting wines that we encourage you to seek out. The reviews featured in this series may be written by either one or the both of us. The featured wines can be from obscure or well-known wine regions. We hope that these wine recommendations will keep you gastronomically curious and your palate invigorated.
Castelfeder, Pinot Nero Project
Does terroir really matter?
Terroir is a French term that has no English equivalent. It’s defined by dictionary.com as: the environmental conditions, especially soil and climate, in which grapes are grown and give a wine its unique flavor and aroma.
Terroir is a term that’s sure to spark a conversation among wine geeks. Some people think that terroir means everything in wine while others may argue that it’s all about the producer. When it comes to grape varieties that show off terroir, Pinot Noir is often considered that standard-bearer (which is why red Burgundy is coveted by collectors).
Castelfeder is addressing this topic with their latest release of three single-vineyard wines dubbed the Castelfeder Pinot Nero project. The Pinot Nero project shows off three different sites in Alto Adige, Italy. The three sites (Glen, Mazon, and Buchholz) all vary in their aspect with the sun in addition to elevation. All three sites have clay soils.
We first came across the wines of Castelfeder at the 2018 Modri Les Noirs in Slovenia. During this tasting of Pinot Noirs from around Central and Eastern Europe, the Castelfeder Burgum Novum Pinot Nero Riserva stood out. We finally got the chance to meet Ines Giovanett of Castelfeder winery at the 2019 edition of Modri Les Noirs.
“The quality of wines in Alto Adige is already high and we want to raise the bar,” Ines told me. “Our focus going forward is the production of single-vineyard wines, especially with Pinot Nero.”
The Pinot Nero Project is the debut of this new direction. All three wines are vinified and aged identically. Here’s what we found after tasting the wines.
- Castelfeder, ‘Glen’ Pinot Nero 2018
The Glen vineyard is between 450-790 meters above sea level, south to southwest facing. This wine shows the most development of the three wines, which is surprising because they are all from the same vintage. Notes of mountain berry, tangerine peel, minerals, and a touch of cedar. The fruit is generous here and there is a wonderful citrus peel-acidity. The wine feels more tightly wound than the other two. Score: 90+/100
- Castelfeder, ‘Buchholz’ Pinot Nero 2018
The Buchholz vineyard is 470 meters above sea level and the vineyards are west to northwest facing. This feels brighter and a little more floral than the other two wines. Crushed cherry, raspberry, and a touch of white pepper. This feels a little lighter in body and more delicate than the other two wines. Soft tannins with a flinty finish that screams ‘drink now’. Score: 91/100
- Castelfeder, ‘Mazon’ Pinot Nero 2018
This Mazon vineyard is at 440 meters above sea level and is northwest facing. This is the fullest in body out of the three wines. It shows notes of cherry, strawberry, pepper, fall leaves, and some wood. Out of the three wines, this shows the most wood (although it is well integrated). This wine also has the biggest tannins out of the three. It could be the most long-lived in the cellar. Score: 90/100
You can find out more about our scoring system on the WINE RATING page.
Did Terroir Matter?
Does the Castelfeder Pinot Nero project show off terroir? The three wines do show subtle nuances but the real test will come with time. How the wines develop with time in the bottle will be the real gauge. Regardless, these are three well-made, delicious Pinot Noirs that don’t break the bank.
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Castelfeder provided tasting samples. Please note that the opinions expressed are our own and have not been paid for in any way. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers. On occasion, we extend the option of purchasing the wines we review or/and the products we spotlight. Some of these product links are set up through affiliate programs, which means Exotic Wine Travel gets referral credits if you choose to purchase these items via the links we provide.